Friday, July 27, 2007

El Scorcho RD's Report: Part Four

After the runners had taken off on lap one, we had about 15 minutes or so to get our bearings before they made their way back around. I spent about 5-10 minutes being interviewed by a reporter with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about El Scorcho.

And then I received a panicked call on my walkie-talkie.

"We're just about out of water at aid station two!"

A mad scramble ensued where we tried to get in touch with David, our official water volunteer, to ensure that he was on top of it. (The park did not have a good water source, so we had assigned a volunteer to pick up water jugs from the aid stations and take them to my house--a few miles away--to fill them up throughout the night as needed.) Naturally, David was one of the few volunteers without a walkie-talkie. So Jballs got on the cell phone and found David--who was already on top of things.

I spent the next hour and a half running around like a chicken with my head cutoff. More water... toilet paper for the porta-potties... 350 pounds of ice... post-race bbq and pasta.... As things happened, we dealt with them.

Greg Maschal, the 25K winner, crossed the finish line in 1:41:20. Absolutely smoking the course amid humid, sticky conditions. Ten minutes later, Megan Newsom became the first 25K female finisher with a time of 1:51:52. I recall announcing over the PA system that both runners were way too fast.

Around 3 a.m., Jballs and I decided to borrow David's truck and go for a water run. It was strange leaving the park--where so much activity was taking place--and entering the "real" world where most folks had long since retired for the evening.

We filled up 7 water jugs at my place and made our way back to the park just in time to catch the 50K winner, Steven Richard, claim his victory in 3:51:07. Laura Nelson, the female leader, crossed the tape in 4:28:43.

As more and more runners finished, the course began to quiet down. I decided to hop on my bike and ride the route backwards to check on runners and visit some of the volunteers. It was a great decision. Over the next two and half hours, I circled the 3.1 mile loop. I got a completely different sense of the run and what the runners and volunteers were going through. The runners still on the course had been going for more than 5 hours since the midnight start. Fatigue was setting in, but they were gutting it out. It was inspiring. They trudged along throughout the night, gritty and determined.

At the same time, the volunteers were incredible. We had chosen to donate all profits from El Scorcho to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, so Team in Training had gotten on board to provide us race volunteers. (Team In Training is the world's largest endurance sports training program. The program provides training to run or walk a whole or half marathon or participate in a triathlon or century bike ride in honor of blood cancer patients and survivors.) The TNT folks were cheering, excited. I even had one runner ask if we had "liquored up" the volunteers to increase their enthusiasm! Throughout the night, their devotion to the runners never wavered. As the sun was coming up, we decided to let several of the volunteers go home, especially those who were out to help guide runners along the dark course. They all chose to stay until the end.

"We've bonded with these runners," one volunteer told me. "We know each of them as they come by and we're not leaving until they finish."

Fantastic, unbelievable, and inspirational.
The last official runner crossed the line in 7 hours, 43 minutes. The sun was shining. The city was stirring. Runners and bikers, oblivious to our midnight run, were making their way to the park for a morning workout.

As we folded up the aid station tables and loaded up the last of the trash, I took in a deep breath. We'd done it. We'd pulled it off. It felt great.

Just as I was getting into my car to head home, one of the last runners hollered at me from the parking lot, "Hey! When's next year's El Scorcho?"

1 comment:

Addy said...

great event report! Sounds like you guys did a great job out there making it a good one :)


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