We worked at an Aid Station (affectionately dubbed the Love Shack) and the Love Shacks location allowed us to interact with all athletes running all distances. They were all amazing. But since we saw the 50 milers four times we interacted with them the most and talked with them the most. There were couples doing it together, 50 and 60 year old men and women doing it. A man who was doing this very same race for the 30th consecutive year. A somewhat fabled and well know veteran athlete , who was quite hilarious and fun to talk to. Check out his website: http://runningbadhabits.com . He even has a book, I have not read it but I intend to. I bet it is hilarious. It is called Running and other Bad Habits. We also met a gentleman from Maine who said "he decided to get back into shape so he came to Texas to run the 50 mile distance on Saturday and then the Austin Marathon on Sunday". He finished the 50 miler, and we checked, he finished the marathon the next day in 4:14 (an impressive time as a stand alone, let alone after just completing a 50 mile technical trail). Another athlete I am "loosely" acquainted with through this amazing little Facebook group called Runners Corner, quit several times during the race, only to finish the 50 miler. You can read about his experience by following this link: http://iamsureofthis.com/post/76838126734. I love, love reading his posts. There was a man running the 50 mile distance with his Pomeranian. And, the pomeranian finished right along his masters side. Another man suffered a twisted ankle within the first five or 10 miles. When I saw him on his third pass his ankle had swollen to at least three times it's original size and I swear it was tearing his shoes. But he finished the 50 miler in 2nd or 3rd place I believe.
Now the volunteers. Some of those folks were out there from 6 am to 10 pm. Smiling and encouraging the runners. Phoenix and I were scheduled for 9-5 but stayed until 9, we were really trying to stay until he last runner came through, but we left four on the trail. Some volunteers had ran the half or full marathon, then spent the day volunteering. Runners giving back! It is awesome.
I love the running and triathlon community. There is not a group of people who genuinely support your athletic endeavors whole heartedly. Every one of them was a beginner once, and they love to cheer on and lift up new runners. Many, were overweight or even morbidly obese at one point. There is nothing they love to see is someone who is out there to improve their health. They are all fun, and engaging, and fit, and encouraging, the first to jump in and lend a hand. I love being a part of it. I love that my daughter is discovering it. She ran a portion of the trail Saturday, and had a chance to run along side Mark Henderson for a spell. She thought that was pretty cool.
The opportunity to see these athletes in action and talk to some of them was an experience I loved and wouldn't trade for anything. They braved the dark, and cold, angry raccoons, SOB Hill, Monkey Butt Hill, Stairway to Heaven with pure determination and grit and I cannot even imaging the mental toughness some had to dig for to force them self to finish. Sure I went out there to earn an entry into a future race, but I came back with So.Much.More. All those athletes and volunteers left not only an impression on me, but on my 12 yo. daughter as well. For that, I am thankful.
|50 miles today, Austin Marathon tomorrow. He's "that guy"|
|Phoenix running the trail|
|Me Phoenix and Jennie, another volunteer.|
|Mark Henderson on his last pass through the Love Shack|