I swear I have a curse on me for pacing the Wasatch 100. Three times I have been signed up to pace and twice my runners have DNF’d (Did Not Finish) earlier in the race and this year my runner DNS’d (Did Not Start).
Since I had a few days’ notice this week that I would not be pacing from Lamb’s Canyon to Brighton, but had already taken the day off work, I sent a message to the Wasatch 100 Race Committee to see if they needed any volunteers. Claude Grant got hold of me last Saturday and provided me with a couple of volunteer jobs. I was to be at the bus loading at 3:20 a.m. this morning to check runners on to the buses and then I would be driving a van the rest of the day until 7 p.m. tonight when the next van driver’s shift started.
I actually started volunteering earlier than planned and had a blast. I just love all the energy around distance races and it was so impressive yesterday to be at the Race Briefing at Sugarhouse Park with all the ambitious men and women set to run 100 miles across the top of the mountains. I stayed afterwards and helped load vehicles with drop bags. 300+ runners with several aid stations with drop bags equals a whole lot of loading.
This morning came way too early, but I made it to the bus loading in time and helped check runners onto the three buses. We then escorted the buses up to Kaysville with one van in the lead and my van at the tail to make sure everyone got to the starting line in time. We had to park down at the bottom of the hill and hike up to the Kaysville Wilderness Park for the start. I turned in the check-in pages and then went about ¼ mile down the trail to cheer the runners on as they went past. Wish I could have taken some pictures of them running in the dark – but that far surpasses my photography skills.
Once the race started, we loaded more drop bags in the other van and that van headed to Soldier Hollow and my van headed back to Salt Lake where I dropped the other van driver off at his apartment. He needed to rest because he was pacing most of the day with another racer.
Hold on for the exiting part here…… Picked up food at Dunkin Donuts. Drove up to Woods Cross to the Kmart parking lot. Crawled in the back of the van and slept for two hours. Read and talked on the phone for another hour or so. Drove up to Farmington and parked at a church. Ran 3 miles. Read for a couple of hours. Basically – I had to be available if I was needed for anything – but wasn’t for a while.
Finally, I got the call that the Francis Peak Aid Station vehicle was coming down. They met me and we transferred all the drop bags from their vehicle to mine and I headed off to Soldier Hollow. I stopped by Lambs Canyon Aid Station on the way up to say hi and see if they needed any help later. Right when I got to Soldier Hollow, Big Mountain Aid Station called in needing 200 pounds of ice, so I quickly off loaded 300+ drop bags (that was an adventure!) and headed back to Jeremy Ranch to pick up ice. After buying 25 bags of ice, the gas station employees were kind enough to help me load the back of the van with ice and I headed back down to Big Mountain (or should I say up?).
Big Mountain was bustling when I got there. We off loaded all the ice and it was really needed. One of the hotter race days and the heat was really hurting the runners. I checked in with the ham radio team and wasn’t needed yet at another location, so told them where I was and ended up helping with food and drink for the next 3.5 hours. The first few hours they were short on volunteers so it was really good to feel needed and I got pretty good at loading up water bottles with ice.
Near the end of my shift we got some ferocious winds up at Big Mountain. We literally were holding down the tents so they would not blow away. Just what the runners needed on top of all the heat.
At 6:30 I headed down from Big Mountain and met the next couple that was taking the van from 7 p.m.to 7 a.m. I was sad to see my volunteer time come to an end, but my foot was sore. It was interesting, because the time I ended was right about when I would have started pacing.
I’m looking forward to going over to the finish line tomorrow and cheering on all these awesome runners one more time.