Race #5 of 2013
I got onto Facebook on a early, Saturday morning to discover the race director for this event was asking for helpers in sweeping the course. I was immediately interested and asked for more details. He replied back with a few instructions of what it required to sweep a course and I knew instantly I wanted to do this. I just had to ask my hubby, but I knew what his answer would be. He loves to get out of town just as much as me and so this was a no-brainer. He's such a good guy!
There would also be another sweeper working along side me because the RD likes there to be two people out there working together. I'll admit I was a bit nervous about this because I'm not the fastest runner, and I just knew this was going to be some young, slender, fast, little gal. Sure enough! She was all that. But more than that she was just as sweet and wonderful as could be. Her name was Erin and she came all the way up from Flagstaff, Arizona. The thing that worked so well was that we had to stay at the very tail end and couldn't pass the slowest runners out there. Or basically we would be taking down their trail markings and then they would be lost wandering in the wilderness.
The assignment was simple. Be at the very end of the pack, don't pass the last runners, and clean all the plastic flagging off of the trees, bushes, rocks, dead wood etc. and deposit it at the next aid station. I would get to enjoy the beauty of an organized trail run, complete with aid stations and other people out there running too. To me there's nothing worse than running alone in unknown territory, or even known territory. I much prefer to run with others. I just plainly feel more safe.
Getting to aid station #2 had so many rewarding views. The climbs were a little challenging but it just felt so great being outside running again. I have been cooped up indoors on the treadmill all Winter up North where I am. I loved being South in Moab and enjoying the sunshine, blue skies, and perfect weather!! (about 50 degrees)
It was cool to look down and see where we had come from though.
The sun was heading down in the Western sky and I was starting to get a little bit nervous about getting to the finish line before dark. Aid station #3 was mile 15 and we still had 5 miles to go. I just didn't see how this guy was going to go 5 more miles in his condition. We had to keep encouraging him to pick up the speed and that we weren't going to make it before dark. He didn't act concerned and kept saying, "I'm glad there's not a closing course time" Well, we finally had to tell him there was and that we didn't have lights and we needed to hurry. This race was supposed to be over at 6:00 p.m.
You can see the sun in my glasses is on the horizon and once it goes down I knew we only had a little over a half hour until we were in the dark. The RD told us that if we get near the end and there are stragglers then we could just pass them and finish. So Erin and I felt like we needed to just continue without this guy. He was only walking now and showed no interest in running at all. We told him goodbye and he said "Please don't send any jeeps up here after me, I want to finish". We had to give him credit for his determination. So we left and continued taking flagging down. There were a few times I felt a little nervous leaving him out there to find his way and so Erin was so good to run back to find him and he would just be sitting down on a rock resting!! What??? Didn't he realize the predicament he was putting us and him in?? Gahhh!!! By now we were so frustrated. She made him come with her and caught back up to where I was waiting and we continued trying to hurry him along. Finally with about 2 miles left we knew he would be ok and that we were nearing the end. It was at this point that I pulled out the radio they had supplied us with at aid station #1 and I tried to use it to get some advice or help with what to do with this guy. I talked and talked into that thing but got no response. I doubt I was even using it correctly. What a lot of good that did to haul all over a mountain for 22 miles and not even know how to use it huh? We were just so nervous about leaving him alone and being in the dark with no lights. He kept insisting that he would be alright and that we could go on. He said he had done 5 ultras and that this one was by far the hardest. He still insisted on finishing and not getting any help, so on we went.
We could look way down from a high mesa we were on and see the finish line area and even a couple of people were coming up the trail. The sun was completely down and it was definitely dusky outside. We crossed the finish line area about 6:10 p.m. and when I looked up the results on the webpage I learned that the guy we left behind finished around 6:25 p.m. I was pretty worn out and didn't wait to see him come through. There were plenty of people at the finish line to do that. I'm just grateful he made it down off that mountain.
So, you may ask, did I love this assignment of sweeping the course? Most definitely! I would do this in a heartbeat again. I felt bad for that poor sick runner, but clearly, he should have called it quits at the last aid station. It was just an odd predicament he put us in trying to make a decision of getting off the mountain before dark and leaving him alone, or staying with him and being completely in the dark and possibly getting lost ourselves. It all worked out in the end and I had a superb time regardless.
Because I did this assignment of sweeping the course the RD is now giving me a free race of my choice. He has a few different events throughout the year but this Red Hot Run is looking the most appealing right now. You just may see me back here again in 2014 running the full 55K!