Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pumpking Patch at the Arkansas Traveller 100, 6 -8 Oct 2011

My friends at the Jester Nation reminded me of the importance of volunteer race reports, so here goes:
Oct 2009 was my first experience with the Arkansas Traveller 100 and the Pumpkin Patch Aid Station (mile 22 outbound, mile 93 inbound). 
Chrissy Ferguson, one of the race directors, asked me if I would volunteer at the Pumpkin Patch, Kim Fischer was the aid station captain, I had not met her yet (or anyone else there).

 Kim the morning after a very COLD night, enjoying the first rays of the morning 

Kim's best friend, Tommy, was our ham radio operator (RIP Tommy)

I showed up Saturday afternoon after the outbound runners had come though, I went straight there from work in the Searcy, Walmart Bakery.  After a short nap it was time to make the soup for the night shift.  We have chicken noodle soup and potato soup for the runners thought-out the cold night. 

I was not spiritually prepared for what I was about to behold!  By mile 93, anyone who has the self discipline to train for 100 miles, looks beautiful! spiritually!  I think God granted me a very small glimpse of what He sees, in us, His children.  We all hide behind masks of our own creation to protect us from the dangers in our individual worlds.  At mile 93 that mask is gone, what is left is beyond words beautiful!

My best image to show what it must feel like to finally make it though the night is this image.  I do not know the name of the runner. 

After the experience I was hooked for life!  


2011 I found myself aid station captain for The Pumpkin Patch (mile 22 outbound, mile 93 inbound)

My husband, just because he loves me, came to help.  He isn't particularly social, so this was a true gift of love.  He kept me organized and together so I could make sure things happened and needs were met.  
My lesson from 2011, no dogs allowed!  I'm not going to tell that story!!

Chris was miserable, on the way home he told me to never ask him to do that again.  He found himself making plans for 2012!

Is something wrong with me? (Don't answer that)  I saw the faces of the runners at mile 93 and thought; "I want to do that".  Wow!

 Chris's best friend, Vance, wanted to go again, so that was the hook that got Chris to agree to go again.  I can't do it without him, he keeps me organized.  He, with ease, sets up and breaks down camp.  Chris started looking for cool decorations and ideas to start building Pumpkin Patch year by year.  

This year was special.  I had the best volunteers ever!   A few aren't runners, yet, a few wanted to see what this kind of adventure looked like, a few are working and planning for a future 100 miler of their own.  Some paced or crewed runners and worked at The Pumpkin Patch between times.  One guy dropped from the race and spent the rest of the race at our aid station with his girl friend, who was volunteering.  He helped us put out glow sticks for the night.  

We had a cold year this year, a very cold, rainy miserable day, the first day of the Traveller. 

Kevin King kept the fire roaring!  Thank you Kevin!  This fire was a must for this race.  Kevin kept the runners warm and kept us thawed out.

We normally have soup in the evening for the incoming runners.  We changed that plan this time around, it was so cold we had soup ready to go in the am.  We handed out trash bags to used as rain covers.  One lady wrapped them around her hands for protection.  We started suggesting that as well.  We sure didn't want anyone dropping because of the cold if we could help it.

My hope and dream is to be able to run this race by my 50th birthday.  It was so cold!  The runners were so cold!  The rain was coming down so hard.  I realized if I had entered that race, I couldn't have gone on.  I would have been done by mile 22.  I'm not that tough.  That realization makes me sad.

We took shifts sleeping and nursing runners though-out the night.  Sleep never felt so good than snuggled in a sleeping bag in the car with the heater on.
We have ham radio operators at each aid station.  We don't clear our aid station till the last runner has made it to the next check in point.  This allows us to keep track of every runner, knowing within a few miles where each is.
After this long weekend there is nothing sweeter than the radio guy telling us the last runner made it to the next check in.  Yay, we can go home!
Home means we all went back to race headquarters for the awards ceremony,  then we clean up race headquarters and head for our shower and our bed.
Its funny how the planning for the next year starts before we even get home.

Please share your volunteer experiences. 

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