Burning River 100 Mile Volunteering- Boston Store
All Decked out and ready to help those runners.
Last year I headed up the aid station at Merriman which is 93 miles into the race, we were late in the race and runners were thinned out but we had a fiesta theme and livened up weary runners as they made their way on through the final miles of the course. This year I was put in charge of a busier aid station at Boston Store that runners hit twice. We went with a Luau theme this year but don't worry Pedro was ready to play his part again and even sported a coconut bra!
I lined up more than 30 volunteers to help man the aid station this year and the goal was to have as few drops possible at our station while getting these runners through miles 56 and 60 as quickly as possible while making sure that they hydrate and eat. At miles 56 and 60 as opposed to mile 93 we wouldn't be out there quite as long as last year, but runners would be closer together earlier in the race and we would have many more runners since most of the runners will make it to us before having to throw in the towel.
I decided to get to the course about an hour before the fastest shot at the first runner coming through (or our best guess at it anyways). My first crew of volunteers was set to show up at the same time. Things got a bit chaotic as we set everything up and then finally settled in to wait for our first runner. My volunteers were awesome and really did a great job getting everything set up and ready for runners to come through. (Note to self next year get there 2 hours ahead of time to give yourself one hour where you can go through drop off bins and get everything organized by yourself so you know exactly what is there and where everything is. It was impossible to give tasks to everyone and keep everyone busy during set up and do the things I wanted to do to make sure we were organized. Bring an extra table, the set up here was a bit rough we had to put coolers and stoves on the Boston store porch) We had a brief scare when I realized we only had sheets to check in one mile marker, and not both but thankfully my trusty volunteers found a copier on site and got new sheets all set for our second runner check in.
It wasn't long before we heard the cowbell announcing our first runner was on his way. Tim Clement was in and out in the true fashion of a lead runner. Many of the front runners really don't need much help, they have top notch crews and they know exactly what they want, even 56 and 60 miles into the race. Everyone had assignments ranging from grabbing drop bags, checking in and announcing approaching runners, food upkeep and serving, drink supplies, traffic control and runner handlers doing pretty much anything and everything a runner needs. I had lined up three shifts of volunteers so that no one had to work too long if they didn't want to. We had a little chaos as the first shift led into the next but I tried to keep everyone calm and happy while we got things back in order.
Since I had so many volunteers I was free to help out wherever I was most needed. Totally fits my spastic personality and tendency to bounce from place to place. Next year I need to remember to wear something with pockets. I kept stopping to do something and leaving my cell phone and or camera in that place where I stopped and having to go back and find them. I also need to make sure my notebook has no loose papers in it. I had printed everything I needed during the day including volunteers shift duties, predicted pace charts for Meghan, permits, maps to other stations, etc but finding the exact paper I needed each time I went to the folder proved to be an exercise in frustration. In addition to helping out where needed the captain is in charge of policing crew and pacers. We didn't have too many issues this year thankfully and for the most part crew were very good about staying out of the way. Kids can be hard, especially when the crew loses sight of them. It sure isn't fun having to tell kids that no that food isn't for them its for the runners, but some one's got to do it :) Next year maybe we will set up a game area for kids to play in away from the stations activities.
As the night wore on I started trying to make sure everything was set for Salty to take over if I had to leave to pace Meghan. Depsite being pregnant Salty had graciously offered to take over for me if I had to leave early to pace. We got a call from Chelle around mile 70 and they were lost so we weren't really sure what pace they were on or when to expect a call. My family picked me up a chicken wrap at Applebees so I scarfed that down and tried to hydrate as well as caffeinate so I was ready to roll out.
Chelle ended up wanting to pace longer so I was able to stay at the station until we were all closed down. As it got darker we tried really hard to keep the weary runners going. My dad and one of my volunteers put out glow sticks to help the runners see the path at night. I walked with a few runners out to the start of Pine Lane to make sure they knew the way. We had a bit of a scare where we thought we lost a runner but thankfully he made it to Pine Lane and went on to finish the entire race!
We only had one runner over the cut off and he bowed out graciously with an injured ankle. All in all I think we had 15 total drops at our station. Since we are hit twice we will say 7 to 8 for each time through, considering the miles we were at I think we did very good. Paul offered to give our final drops a ride to the finish and after tearing everything down Salty and I made our way to O'Neil Woods to cheer for Meghan and start my pacing duties for the evening. My dad took my car to the finish so that I would have a way home at the end of the night.
HUGE thank you to all of my volunteers. You were all amazing. And special thanks to my mom and dad, my sister and her friends who drove all the way from Michigan and stayed at the aid station to help all day except for a few hours when I told them to go get dinner. I really am more blessed than I can even fathom.