Last Thursday afternoon I headed out to the Pony Express Trail to help volunteer at the Pony Express Trail 50 and 100 mile races. I ran the event last year, but was not in shape to do it this year and wanted to be part of the fun.
As I pulled into the campground, I saw the race directory, Davy Crockett (also known for running incredibly extreme and crazy distances) sitting surrounded by two tents and a bunch of gear. I asked him where his vehicle was and he mentioned it was the van that was broken down on the side of the road about 3 miles back. Apparently some hoses were not fully tightened when maintenance was done on it and the bumpy roads caused the oil to drain out and ruin the engine. Not only did he have that stress added on to all his other duties that weekend, but had to run in to the camp and get friends to help him transport all the race gear.
After setting up my new tent and campsite, I helped Davy with some of the starting chute setup and visited with other runners and race staf as they arrived. When it started getting dark, I went to change out of shorts and into sweatpants and threw my keys up on the dashboard of my Jeep. Imagine my horror as I watched the keyring start sinking into the corner of the dashboard and grabbed futilely to try and save my keys. No luck. Everyone wants to be far away from civilization with no way to start their vehicle – right? Jim Kern (my racing companion from the year before) had some tools and I tried in vain to take apart my dashboard. Jim tried again later and was more persistent than me. Prayers were answered when he finally somehow found the keychain wedged in a metal compartment (they would have never been visible). More prayers were answered when Craig Lloyd was able to get his skinny fingers in there and unwedge the keys.
Of course, my stress level was very high because I had called a neighbor to see if they could find my spare key and he looked in the places I asked him too and could not find them. My sister was willing to help me out by searching and driving me around as needed, but I was glad I did not have to do that. Imagine my chagrin when I got home on Friday night and opened the first drawer I had asked the neighbor to look in and saw the spare key laying out in the open. (Never ask men to look for something – but they are great at being willing to help out).
Friday morning, once the race started, Jim Kern put my dashboard back together (I only have 8 screws missing a home now) and we were taking down the starting area to move the materials further down the race course. Jim tried to start his truck and the battery was dead. It took him quite a bit of work, but he finally was able to get the truck started and he drove off wondering if it would start again when he needed it to.
Final bit of fun – I was driving back and forth on the road and had told myself I would turn around for good when my tank got half empty. (75 miles back to the nearest gas station). My blood pressure was once again challenged when I noticed my gas indicator had dropped from just over half a tank to one quarter tank in a five mile stretch. Did I have a hole in my tank? How was I going to get back to civilization without running out of gas? I drove on to the 50 mile finsh/turnaround to see if I could bum some gas off of anyone and Brad was able to give me a couple of gallons of gas. Of course, it turns out my panic was unneeded because the gas gauge was acting up and the two gallons of gas actually put me back to ¾ of a tank.
Ah – the fun of vehicle problems when you are out in the middle of nowhere….