With the permission of Zach Adams, we are reprinting this post about how an ultrarunner (usually the one running) takes on the role of aid station captain. For those of you who have manned aid stations, you will be able to identify with Zach. For those of you who are used to aid station workers taking care of you, well … just say “thanks” to your aid station folks next time you’re in a race. Thanks to Zach Adams and Eric Steele of Epic Ultras for letting us post this piece.
At the inaugural Flint Hills Marathon and 40 Miler I got my first taste of running an aid station for the full duration of a race, and HOLY SHIT was it a real eye-opener! Since I started running ultras about 5 years ago, I have been amazingly taken care of at almost every race I have started. I have had workers fill my bottles, give me food, and offer me everything from a sandwich from their own cooler to Tums out of the glove box of their car. I have stumbled, shuffled, and flown through innumerable aid stations, but I have never worked one. I now realize after working at one, that while I was grateful, I was still taking them for granted. Not anymore. Never again. I realize that I am not unique in that I usually run ultras so I am really excited to share some observations from my first experience from behind the aid station table.
1. It is HARD. You have to show up early and stay late. You have to rush around and get stuff ready before runners get there. You have to load and unload everything. You have to clean as you go. You have to clean, inventory, and repack everything once the last runner comes through. It isn’t running, but it is a LOT of work.
2. It is STRESSFUL. The pressure of being able to quickly and efficiently provide for all the needs of the runners while still cheering them on and infusing them with confidence takes a real toll on you. Waiting for a group of runners to come through and making sure you got them all checked in can leave you worried that you missed someone. You will question yourself. Did I do everything I could for them? Did I find the right drop bag? Did I give them the right bottle back?
Continue reading » From runner to Aid Station Captain
Jeff and Dondi Black are ultrarunners in Boise, Idaho. A couple of weeks ago, Jeff ran the River of No Return 100K, and Dondi ran the 50K. This was the inaugural year for the RONR and its first year in the Idaho Trail Ultra Series. If you’re considering an ultra in Idaho, check out the ITUS website for other races. RONR was the 3rd in a series of 8 ultras in 2014. Here is Jeff’s race report entitled “Running the River.”
“This was an inaugural race with a potent name: The River of No Return, or RONR for short. Given its close proximity to the Frank Church Wilderness to north, the main Salmon River to the south, and the towering Lost River Range to the east, the location was promisingly iconic even before arriving in Challis, Idaho where it all began. I strapped in for the long 100k course while Dondi rode the rapids on the 50k.” To read the whole article, go to Jeff’s website: http://jeffattheraces.wordpress.com/.
The Dig Deep weekend has earned its place as one of the most highly anticipated race weekends in the UK trail and ultra-running community, with its comprehensive set of races and activities to suit all abilities. With four main races over the weekend, including the Ultra Tour of the Peak District – a brutal but stunning 60 mile course showcasing the best of Peak District trails – to the Whirlow 10k Trail Challenge.
Sponsorship for 2014 has already been finalised and race organiser Ian loombe announced, “We’re delighted to have Mammut as our principal sponsor, with Injinji and Ultimate Direction heavily involved as well. Clif will once again provide the nutrition for the race and Outside will be providing some great retail opportunities giving us a very respectable sponsor package.”
The 2013 event received great feedback, with the goody bags in particular proving to being very popular! Campers were given an overnight bag, which included earplugs, travel pillows and a Mammut cuddly toy. Over the weekend over £1,000 worth of Clif and Injiji freebies and goodies were given out as spot prizes!
Continue reading » Dig Deep Races – Date set for 2014
In our July/August issue, Meghan Hicks writes an article on “The 10 Best Ultras for First-Timers.” One of the series that she profiles is The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K races. Our friends at TNF races are offering a 10% discount for any race distance for the Wisconsin and Georgia events. Use this coupon code to receive your discount: M&B13 (it is case sensitive).
An ideal course layout for elite speedsters and those taking their first strides in the world of ultra trail running, The Endurance Challenge Wisconsin course is run-able from start to finish, provided that you’ve trained properly. A large portion of the course takes place on the renowned Ice Age Trail located 60 miles southeast of Madison in the southern reaches of the picturesque Kettle Moraine State Park. A hardy test for trail runners of all levels, The North Face® Endurance Challenge at F.D.Roosevelt Park, GA, takes place on the Pine Mountain Ridge on the southern-most edge of the Appalachian Mountain range. The registration fee for these events goes up on July 5, so register now to get your 10% discount! Go to http://www.thenorthface.com/en_US/endurance-challenge/?stop_mobi=yes for more information.
Slammin’: Voices from the Middle of The Pack – Photos and stories of the runners in the 2013 Ultramarathon Grand SlamMarch 4, 2013
Friend/photographer/subscriber of Marathon & Beyond, Michael Lebowitz is documenting the 2013 Ultra Grand Slam in a book called Slammin’: Voices from the Middle of the Pack.
Michael writes: “Many people consider summitting Everest to be one of the most difficult physical accomplishments. Yet, completing a series of 100-mile foot races across North America is perhaps even more challenging. There have been only 266 finishers of the Grand Slam since the event began in 1986 when Tom Green did it for the first time. In that same period 3500+ people have summitted Mt. Everest. Everest is 29,028 feet high, about 5.5 miles. There is a total of nearly 80,000 ft. of elevation gain during the 400 miles of the Slam, nearly two-and-a-half times more than Everest. Climbing Everest requires teams of people, weeks of hiking and climbing, expensive equipment, clothing, extensive training, guides. The Grand Slam is 400 miles and requires long-run training, a very small crew made up of wives/husbands /friends and several pairs of running shoes.
“There will be approximately 18 people on the starting line at Western States 100 mile whose dreams go much farther than 100 miles of this most famous of ultra courses with its 18,000 ft of elevation and legendary conditions. For these athletes, it is only the first step of a very long journey and will be followed, three weeks later, by the Vermont 100, with its 14,000 Ft of elevation gain. Four weeks later is the Leadville Trail 100 at 16,200 ft of gain, followed by the Wasatch Front 100, with an almost unimaginable elevation gain of 26,882 feet. It’s unlikely that more than 10 or 12 will cross the finish line at Wasatch, the Slam in hand. We’re going to be focusing on this group of ordinary people who have it in their hearts that they can and will accomplish this extraordinary thing.”
To learn more about Michael’s extraordinary project, click here.