I made it to CrossFit four times last week, and then spent my weekend helping out at the Vermont 100.
First, we hosted a runner from the Cayman Islands and he turned out to be a very nice gentleman and a great house guest.
On Friday my wife had to work, but I volunteered at the medical check-in. I've been doing this for years - even if I run the race. Mostly, I coordinate the madness a bit, get the runners' weights, and then direct them to a nurse who takes a blood pressure reading and asks a few questions. If runners have questions about the course, I can usually answer them.
After the check-in, I headed home to cook an early dinner for our guest, given how early he would need to get up in the morning. Because our guest had gotten lost returning from the race check-in, and the drive to the start would be in the dark, I volunteered to drive him to the start. We left the house shortly after 2:00 a.m. and I got back to bed just as the skies were starting to lighten, as dawn approached. I got 5 more hours of sleep after returning, which was essential, because I wouldn't be sleeping again for a while.
Around 11:30, my wife and I headed to the Camp 10 Bear aid station, where we would be working until 1:00 a.m. Runners in the 100 mile race pass through this station at approximately mile 48 and again at mile 70. We knew there had been some organizational changes with the station, but to be honest, we found way more chaos than we'd expected. Some of the people there were essentially waiting for me to arrive, given that I'm the longest tenured volunteer at this station. I quickly implemented a few changes such as "when making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a knife used for that purpose cannot be used for anything else, to avoid an accidental peanut exposure for someone with an allergy."
I also discovered that we were woefully low on supplies, especially given that every runner in both the 100 km race and the 100 mile race would go through our aid station twice. The change in leadership had also led to a significant change in the menu at our station - something a number of athletes and crews didn't like.
Given our limited supplies, we also chose to protect the food a bit more than in the past. I know this isn't true at all races, but the VT100 seems to feed crews and spectators in a way I've never seen at other ultras. We needed to limit some items to runners only, to ensure that we would have enough. This always angers a few people, and the crews are notorious for simply taking anything they want, no matter what we ask. If I ever stop volunteering at this race, it will be due to the rudeness of the crews who think our aid station is their personal restaurant. I believe I've written about this before, but for the past few years, it seems that the crews and spectators and even some pacers have simply been getting more and more rude and demanding, and I find this frustrating. But, I digress.
I spent a lot of time going through the supply trucks that passed through our aid station periodically. We needed more bread, turkey, cheese, cookies, ramen noodles, and especially, water and watermelon. We managed to scrounge together enough supplies so that the very last runner had almost the same options as the very first runner. But, it was a struggle. Without the help of my wife and an ultrarunner from NH, I'm afraid the aid station would have been a disaster. Many runners were unhappy that the provided sports drink was not the advertised sports drink. Had I been running, I would have been unhappy too. The drink we were serving does not work well at all for me, while the advertised drink works very well. Hopefully that will be cleared up before next year.
It was great seeing old friends come through the station all day long. Most of them finished the race, one long-time friend near the very end, but they were finishing. And, a few didn't finish, and many chose to drop the second time through our aid station. When the very last runner was accounted for, a little after 1:00 a.m., we headed to the finish line to wait for our house guest to finish. He arrived in just over 23 hours, having run a very steady race. He eats a grain-free, sugar-free diet that is relatively low in carbs. He did use some carbs during the race, but he also used coconut oil for calories as well. That is something that I would certainly consider using if I ever run another ultra.
We got our guest back to our house, and let him get showered and get some sleep. But, after only 4 or so hours of sleep, we woke him up to take him to the awards ceremony.
Sitting at the awards ceremony, watching people get their 5 year and 10 year buckles, I found myself thinking "only 2 more" to get to 5. Hopefully, that feeling will be gone in a week or so.
After the awards, our guest wanted to try some of the great Vermont beers that he'd heard about, so we took him to Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier for a bit. After three beers, he looked like he was ready to fall asleep. So, we took him back to our place, fed him some dinner and let him get some sleep. He had an early flight out of Logan this morning, and we never even heard him as he got dressed and sneaked out early this morning.
All in all, it was a great weekend, spent with new and old friends.
This week, it's back to work and as many CrossFit workouts as I can do this week - hopefully 5.