For the fall Superior 100 trail race this year, my wife and I decided to dedicate two days to volunteering with the race. As luck would have it, the race director, John Storkamp, asked my to captain one of the aid stations that has been without a regular captain over the past few years. I was more than happy to help, and he found me a great crew of people to help make everything run smoothly.
My wife and I wanted to make a full weekend out of it, so we started early on Friday and stopped at Banning State Park to get in a little trail running of our own. The trails were wetter and muddier than we had expected, so it took us a bit longer than planned. However, we got a solid 6 miles in and felt ready to tackle the rest of the weekend.
We arrived at the County Road 6 aid station around 2pm (along with the charming Rob the medic) and started getting the tents and canopies set up. My wife started arranging the order of the tables and laying out the supplies, while we got the drop bag area set up and made sure there were cones on the road in the right spots. One of the biggest challenges with County Road 6 is that the trail crosses the highway about a quarter mile apart from where it re-enters the trail. This means that runners are running along side the road for a stretch, and traffic safety becomes a big deal.
I was blessed to have a great group of guys who were willing to take care of handling the road crossing. One of the guys (Bill I believe) saw this great rock at the top of the hill near the crossing, and set himself up on top of it to act as a lookout and flagger for the crossing volunteer. They worked out a system with lights and flags and throughout the entire shift did an amazing job keeping the runners from getting run over. It made my life a LOT easier as I didn’t need to worry about that part of the course.
The other big challenge with County Road 6 is dealing with crew and spectators. I had a guy stationed at the parking lot, reminding people to stay on the shoulder of the road (this is a highway speed, two-lane, road). I then spent some time throughout the night cajoling spectators and crew off the shoulder, into the grass so that no one got hurt. Thankfully, no one gave us a had time about it, and no one got winged by a car.
Soon after opening the lead runners came through looking strong, but warm. The humidity was high, despite pleasant temps. We had a lot of runners coming through with massive cramping going on, as well as throwing up. We ended up with 12 DNFs at our station throughout the night, which seemed high to people, but after looking at last year’s splits, is about average.
We also had a lot of people spend a lot of time at the station before continuing on. My friend Rob Henderson spend quite a while getting his wits about him before rallying to keep going. He ended up finishing really well, and I was really excited to see him leave Country Road 6 with his head back in the game. My wife also helped quite a few runners, including our friend Jeff Miller, with a calf massage and stretching to help get him back on the trail. She was able to workout some of his issues and he left in better shape than when he came in.
As the night went on I got to see many more friends as they moved into the night portion of the race. Jason, Wendi, Jeff, and so many others I’m forgetting right now. Soon though the 10:30pm cut-off approached and we started to get everything broken down. I helped Tim Owata get back on course, right at cut-off, debating with myself if I should have let him go on. I found out later he took a few steps, puked, and felt much better and was able to get to the 51 mile mark before calling it a night.
A few more runners came through and I had to deliver the bad news that their race was over. They all took it in stride and their crew’s took them home to get some rest. We finished packing everything up and by 11pm the aid station was no more. Lisa and I headed back to our hotel to get a few hours of sleep before the next shift at Sawbill began, but that is a story for tomorrow.