>This past weekend I was in Charlottesville (well, Waynesboro), Virginia for the Bel Monte 50M/50K/25K races. This is one of my favorite eventsof the year, despite the fast that all 3 years I have attended the raceI haven’t run it. My first year there I was a course sweeper, meaning I followed the last runner and picked up the trail markers behind them. Last year I worked at the start/finish area, which was fun because it was the first year for the 50 mile. This year I got a promotion to oneof the most “popular” aid stations in the race. It is at the 17.4 milemark for the 50 Mile and 50K runners, and then the 50 milers also come through again at 22.2 and 32.2 miles.
Francesca, Gill and I woke up at 3:15 am on Saturday morning and headed down to Sherando Lake. Slowly the runners trickled in, and I got to see all of their faces as they checked in for the races. Some nervous, some cocky, some looking really scared. For someone who has little-to-no maternal instinct in her, it’s weird because I begin to think of these people as sort of my children for the rest of the day. I know what they are feeling, and I know what they are about to experience. I want each and every one of them to be successful in their race.
I place my bets about who will win, as well as who will lose. I wonder how many this year will have to be pulled from the course due to time cutoffs. But there’s not much time for that, as my friend Rebecca and I leave shortly after the race begins to head into the mountains to set up our station. Driving the Jeep roads takes longer than it does to run them, but they are in surprisingly good condition despite the morning showers. Watching Rebecca and I set up is similar to a Troop Beverly Hills experience. This leads me to my first main awesome story of the post – my latest invention. We began expecting the first runners and were getting a little antsy because we still had some things to do, like make the soup. So I started making the soup as we chatted away, catching up on life. The soup was Campbell’s Chicken Noodle condensed soup. Being condensed, I was going back and forth to the water cooler to get cans of water to add to it. Or so I thought. After watching me dump the cans in, Rebecca burst out laughing and remarked that I was actually pouring Gatorade into the pan. Oops. At this point I decided that we had no choice but to heat it up and try it, and if it was acceptable we would still serve it. Now that we were out in the moutains, there was no way to access a store easily and quickly, and wasting that soup could have been a huge mistake (I was right about that). I tried it, and it was good! Except for the lemony smell, that is. Anyway, the first group of runners came through and not surprisingly were not interested in soup. However, as the back of the packers came through, I offered some of my “special” soup. A few people jumped at it, and much to my delight, RAVED about it, and even stayed for seconds. It was so popular, I am hereby using this blogpost as my public declaration of a copyright for Noodleade (expected on the shelves in 2010).
The runners kept us busy, coming from all directions and in all sorts of mental and physical conditions. We filled hand bottles and camel packs, and each and every runner was so grateful for the help you would have thought that we were doing something way nicer than what we were. But in a race like that, it does end up being the little things that make the difference. One such instance was when the 2nd place female was about 20 yards out from the station when she dropped her orange slice on the ground. Seeing that she looked about ready to burst into tears I ran a new one out to her and peeled it for her as we continued moving on the course. You would have thought I handed her the Holy Grail she was so happy. Then there was the extrememly hot dude I probably would have given anything to, but after mentioning he dropped his only GU a mile into the race, I dug into my purse in the car and found a replacement for him. He ended up doing really well and so I take credit for his success.
My second awesome story of the weekend comes from a little tidbit that Dave, our HAM radio helper told me. After watching us fill a bunch of camel packs, he waves me over and points to one, asking what we call it. A camel pack, I reply. Wanna know what we call it? he asks me. Giggling already, I say yes. A douchebag! he says. Needless to say, I will never look at a camel pack the same again.
It really was a great day, from getting to watch the course record on the 50 mile beat by over an hour on the mens side, to being there ready with a hug for the last finisher coming in just under the 13 hour time cutoff. Even though I didn’t run a step all weekend, I am coming back from the days refreshed and inspired. I take it forgranted all too often in a race that I am often done with the race, home and showered before many people even finish. Being able to spend the whole day out there with the runners is something that everyone should try and do if they have the chance. As small a gesture as it may be, not only is it appreciated tenfold by the runners, but it helps you appreciate what you have and what you can do a million times more than ever.