Yesterday I got to spend some time freezing my buns off and cheering about 100 runners making their way through the trails at the FDR State Park near Pine Mountain, Georgia. I do have to say, volunteering at an ultra run is as much fun as running one (minus the endorphin rush of course). I got a really cool fleece cap, got to eat good quality junk food and awesome chili, got to cheer on some amazing runners, and soaked up as much ultra running information as I could from very experienced people.
There were four of us working the Rocky Point aid station which was the 17.5 and 24.5 mile point for the runners. Our supplies had been delivered earlier, so we just spread out the bounty and then waited for the runners to arrive. My job was to write down the times that runners arrived and to take pictures with my IPhone. While waiting, I got to talk to Mike who has run several 100 mile races. I soaked up as much information as I could and added another "easy" race to my list of possibles for my 100 mile attempt next year. So far the list includes Lean Horse, Heartland, Javelina Jundred, and now Burning River.
Soon the runners started arriving. Since the leaves had fallen already (and were covering the numerous rocks and roots) we could see them approaching from 100 yards away. We gave them welcoming whoops, then saw to their needs and sent them on their way. Most looked great, but there were a lot of bloody knees and more than one twisted ankle, but all them continued through our station. Apparently there were some stream crossings on the loop that went out to the TV tower and returned seven miles later. The first couple runners complained about the 4 stream crossings, but that increased every time someone came through, I think we reached a high of 20 stream crossing by the time the last runner returned. Kind of amazing what ultra running does to math skills.
Another thing I noticed was that no matter how bad someone looks, there is no telling when they will get a second wind. We had one dude come through that looked like death warmed over, just a few minutes ahead of cutoff. But, his spirits were good and he was quickly on his way. Later after we shut down the aid station and headed for the finish line, we got to see him finish well ahead of the cutoff and with a smile on his face. Another gal came into the station talking like she wanted to drop. She looked great and we were able to talk her out of it and she also finished under 10 hours.
I got to see some familiar faces, DavidRay, Susan, and Rob, and also got to meet some new people. This race looked like so much fun, I may have to run it next year. That is getting to be a problem, so many fun races, so little time, a wonderful problem to have.