This weekend was an experience.
We left Seattle early afternoon and made it to Randle by the evening. We met up with some of our aid station volunteers at the headquarters to pick up gear. I’m so glad there were four vehicles, or we wouldn’t have gotten all the gear there. And then we headed out. It took us an hour and a half to go about 38 miles to our very remote site. Perseus (our Subaru Crosstrek) got his first real taste of gnarly roads! We got there just before sunset and set up our camp, and I set up the Lug-a-Loo. Good to go! We ate dinner and looked up at the millions of stars we could see without the city light pollution. Lovely!
The next morning we woke up with the sun, so some folks went out for a hike and the rest of us set up. We weren’t expecting our first runner until noon, so we had loads of time. But it was nice to get organized. And then noon came and went. No runners. A few hours go by and we see no one. We had a satellite phone, but it wasn’t working, so we had no clue as to what was going on. We waited, and waited… and nobody came. Eventually I bit the bullet, and called the HQ on the satellite phone, which was supposed to be a big no-no, but it was 6:30 and we hadn’t seen/heard anyone or anything. They told us to expect runners later. Basically, the runners were taking longer on the sections ahead of us. We didn’t get our first runner until 11:15pm. Eleven hours later. As it was an inaugural race, it was a learning experience, but yikes.
Once our runners started rolling in it got a lot more interesting. It was never a frantic pace, but we rarely went 15 minutes without a runner coming in. Our volunteers were fantastic!
We all got 4 hours of sleep on our shifts, and then Megan, Adam and I were up until 4am on Monday. Our sweeper and last runner came in at 1:30am (our original cutoff time), but then they moved our cutoff time to 4:30am. Only one runner needed it, and it was because she sat at our aid station for 3 hours. She was a mess, and I honestly didn’t think she should continue. Eventually, she did (but dropped 2 stations later, I think). We only had 2 drops overall, and only one of them we drove out with us Monday morning (he slept on the cot we had.) The other drop left with crew, but he had a fever and had run the Colorado 200 just a few weeks prior. Yikes. And really, with the race, they had a 75% finishing rate (59 of 78), which is crazy!
The first runners that came in looked remarkably good for 130 miles, with still 70 to go. The section of trail just before us was the hardest and longest bit, so I expected some pretty gnarly carnage. But really, I was impressed with the runners. We had a variety of foods, but what struck me (and it shouldn’t have been surprising) is that hardly anyone touched the “normal” aid station food like fruit, chips, candy, etc. Everyone came into our station wanting REAL food, and nothing sweet. So we made breakfast sandwiches with eggs, cheese, avocado, quesadillas, grilled ham and cheese, and later mashed potatoes/hash browns with lentil soup poured over it like gravy. The bacon disappeared instantly (and then we had tasty smelling bacon grease in the backcountry – I’m sure no animal was interested in that, lol!)