We received a thick packet several weeks before the big day and I read through the materials to make sure I knew what was up. Volunteers were supposed to arrive 15 minutes early to be trained before their shift actually started. I arrived 30 minutes early (over anticipated traffic at 4:00am) and called the head volunteer coordinator. She curtly explained that I was early and the shifts didn't start until 5am. They were on their way and I had to wait. Maybe it was because she didn't have her coffee yet, but I thought that was kind of a rude way to respond, especially starting things off. While I was waiting, I walked around and took a few photos, watching the sun rise over Montrose Harbor.
The coordinators arrived and we all checked in and started unloading the semi truck. All of the other volunteers were friendly and most of them were runners which made for a some common ground. After we had unloaded the truck, we stood around for about 20-30 minutes while the coordinators talked amongst themselves to figure out the layout of the finish line party. Maybe it is just me, but if I didn't know how things were going to be laid out, I probably would have tried to get there early to figure it out so we have the volunteers working the whole time. After the layout was decided we put up tents and things started the shape up. I really enjoyed seeing the inflatable finish line go up.
Once everything was up, we were assigned posts. Luckily I was assigned the medals post. We took the medals out of the boxes and their wrapping, and put them on display. If you were part of an ultra team (only 6 people instead of the traditional 12), you got a special medal with an orange lanyard.
It was a scorcher and all of us volunteers were warm, breaking a sweat in the shade. I could only imagine what the runners were going through. My shift was up at 11 but I planned to stick around and meet up with Kate LF for lunch before her shift started at 4. The first teams started to cross the finish line and I started to get excited for the hours to come. We are at the first booth, passing out what everyone wants (other than water of course)... Medals! I was getting FB and text updates from Kate S saying simply that everyone was sick of the heat and just wanted to be done. I continued to pass out medals as Kate's proposed finish time kept getting closer. But their proposed finish time came and went when I received a text that they were way behind schedule due to driving to the wrong exchange (the directions provided by Ragnar were not very clear and they drove themselves versus having a driver), people off from their pace goals, and just a crappy day. I got another update not too much later that one of the team members had to go to the hospital due to dehydration. I felt bad for Kate and told my husband I'd be home later than expected. When I knew they were getting close, I started to walk along the course to try and meet Kate since she was running the last leg. Walking along I was a bit confused because the markings were quite poor. I ended up standing in the same spot for about a 1/2 hour helping tell anyone with a Ragnar bib where to go as many shouted to me "Do you know where we go from here?" After awhile, I moved down the course a little more, looking for Kate until I was about 1 mile out (according to the GPS on my phone). After a little more waiting (and more cheering), Kate called to say they were approaching the finish line, but due to Ragnar changes because of the heat, she wasn't going to be on the trail. (Apparently all ultra teams were encouraged to "double up" runners so that they would run the same amount of legs, but there were 2 runners together at a time because of the conditions. They didn't want anyone running alone.)
I started running back towards the finish line when I heard a runner ask "Do you know the way to the Ragnar finish line?" I told her to follow me as I was heading that way. She seemed grateful as it she was struggling a bit. The last leg is 8 miles and it was over 90 degrees at this point. I led the way and helped clear a path through the pedestrians. Several times the runner said "Thank you so much," and all I could say was "No problem." Us runners have to stick together. She found her team at the finish line as I walked back to the medals tent.
After a little more waiting, I saw the yellow shirts of Team Chicked as they were heading down the finish line. I ran out there to greet them with their ultra medals and congratulate all of them on a job well done. I think they were all happy to just enjoy their post race beer and relax while not in a van. We snapped some photos and then headed home. By this time I had been in the sun for 14 hours and I was ready to head home.
|With Kate LF (left) and Kate S (middle) at the finish line|
I gave Kate S a ride home and heard some more details on the race logistics. Apparently the end wasn't the only part where the course was poorly marked. They appeared to be a problem throughout the entire Ragnar route (not to mention, some kids messing around with the signs leading runners in the wrong direction). Forks in trails were left as a guessing game (with no van to help guide the way), courses through neighborhoods that didn't appear to be very safe, and country roads with 0 shade all made for an interesting 2 days. I'm sure Jess will have a full recap on her blog within the next few days.
In the end, I feel like this is a fun race with a lot of potential to be a great one. However, I think there are many kinks that need to be worked out. With such a gigantic course and the huge number of people running this race, there are bound to be some/many kinks. Hopefully things will get better as time goes on and Ragnar hears more feedback from runners. Who knows, maybe next year I'll be part of a 12 person team. At least, that is the plan! :)