So on Saturday morning, I got up bright and early.
|Okay, not so bright. But definitely early.|
There wasn't much traffic on the way there (go figure!), but things were already bustling at the Visitors' Center. John and Cheri Storkamp and an army of volunteers had already been out at Afton for days getting things ready. The trail was marked and checked, tents and equipment were up at the start/finish area, tables were set up for check-in, timing chips and bibs and T-shirts were sorted and ready to go. There was even fresh coffee. Working at registration, I felt like I was jumping into a well choreographed dance.
About 8 of us worked registration, first for the 50Kers, then the 25Kers. I handed out T-shirts. And saw lots of friends from Lebanon Hills, Zumbro, Superior, and the Endless Summer races. So much fun to work in a spot where you can see everyone!
|Way down on the end. Photo by Todd Rowe.|
|Start/finish area. All the runners are out on the course. It got WAY busier later!|
|Finish line area -- the last part of the race is across that prairie.|
Timekeepers, ham radio operators, and race officials working in the tent.
|50K aid station and drop bags. The fastest 50Kers were|
just coming through the first of two loops.
|Two 50-gallon containers of watermelon. That's a LOT of watermelon.|
|Amy was a watermelon-butchering machine. She cut up|
watermelon for HOURS. And it went fast!
|Cooking burgers on the prairie. That's an industrial-strength|
fan on the right, blowing the smoke and heat away.
Mary Beth and I set up the drinks. Water, lemonade, iced tea, and our personal touch, Arnold Palmers (half lemonade, half iced tea).
|The Arnold Palmer went fast.|
Once the runners started getting back in (fastest 25K runner finished in under 1:40! Blazing!), things began to get busy. I appointed myself the master of the drinks, and keeping all the containers full was, for a while, a full-time job. And hauling around those 7-gallon carboys of water was excellent physical therapy for the elbow!
|Time to make the lemonade. Photo by Todd Rowe.|
I also located ice, found chairs, hauled boxes, cheered for finishing runners, and saw lots of friends who were running or volunteering.
By the time I had to leave at noon (gotta get home to the boys), the post-race party was in full swing for many, some of the early finishers were heading home, and the slower 50Kers were still out on the course, some of them for several more hours. The thermometer in my car read 90 degrees, and the sky, which had started out cloudy, was clearing up. You could feel the humidity rising. It wasn't the hottest Afton ever, but it was hot enough. All the runners out there have my respect. It was an epic day to run the Afton trails.
Volunteering at Afton was a great experience. I was really glad to be able to give some time and energy to making such a great race possible. I was really impressed by the incredible amount of work that went into making this day as perfect as possible for the runners, and by the amount of time and energy many of the volunteers (and the race directors) gave to this race.
Trail running really is a pretty special thing. A group of like-minded people come together in a remote place, build an entire, temporary village dedicated to a single purpose, give everything they have to that goal of running 25K or 50K, or beating a personal best, or placing in the top 20... and then pick it all back up, pack it into a truck, and head home till the next one.
Thanks, everyone, for the great day. And congratulations to all the runners! See you next year!