Sunday, February 9, 2014

Getting my frost on at Fort Ord

It's rare there's a weekend in the Bay Area where there aren't multiple choices for trail races, but the first weekend of February had only one choice - the Inside Trail Racing Fort Ord and Ordnance 100K races down by Laguna Seca Raceway. Mrs Notthat was otherwise occupied so I was on my own, and I had decided that there was no way I was driving for an hour and a half to run a race without her.

And then there was a call for volunteers - especially for the afternoon and evening (the 100K started at 5AM and ended at 10PM - not having to be there for the start made this a lot more attractive). While I wouldn't drive that far to run the race, I had no problem driving that far to volunteer for about 10 hours.

Naw (not his real name) showing how to properly hydrate.
I was at the Toro aid station, which was notable for a number of reasons:

  • All runners, except 10K, would come through here. (100K runners would come through twice.)
  • It was the last aid station, which meant it would be open the latest.
  • The trail from us to the finish was some of the hardest on the whole course; a couple of big climbs and 6.4 miles. Very few were looking forward to this stretch.

I showed up at about 1PM, which was after all the Half runners and most of the 30K runners had already come through. So I saw mostly 50K and 100K runners.

It was not particularly warm out - maybe 64 or so - but the course is mostly exposed and the sun was persistent, which meant we had runners coming in needing ice and LOTS of hydration.

Xela (not his real name) stylishly rehydrating.
We had one runner drop at our aid station due to heat and cramping, but most were able to keep going.

Slobber Ball!
Local runner Dduj (not his real name) ran the 50K (fifth overall!) then came out to help us at the aid station. A great bonus was that he brought along his yellow lab, Lezah (not her real name either), who kept us entertained during our lulls, tirelessly playing fetch with a tennis ball that had a lot of, um, character.

Kram (not his real name) with only 6.4 more miles to go (and a 10th overall finish). And a handy toilet in the background.
As afternoon changed to evening, the sun no longer kept anyone warm and it started to get dark. We lit a lantern and Kcnarf's son (not his real name).

These are the lights that Mrs Notthat wore for her night 10K a few months ago. It was cool (and a bit trippy) to see him waving around as runners came in.

Eventually it was completely dark with no moon, but some dazzling stars. Our aid station was popular with the runner crews (you see one to the left in this picture) since it was easy to access and we had soup and hot tea. The temperature was about 35 at this point.

A side-note about crews: They are awesome. We had one runner come in that was ready to drop. He was frustrated by the bonus mileage and it was now quite cold and there was a big climb coming up. His crew wasn't having any of it - they gave him soup and kept talking about how great he was doing. I was convinced he was stopping, but then suddenly he was up and heading out.

In another case, a wife and their young son were there to meet dad. The kid was awesome and kept telling his dad how great he was doing - I can't imagine a better way to get your spirits lifted than that!

Note the frost on the propane bottle!
Xela (on the right) is back for his final time. Sadly, his headlamp would die on the way to the finish and he ended up off course.
Picture by Kram, who drove back out to our aid station after finishing his race. That's Kcnarf on the left (his day started at 4AM at this race!), Dduj in the middle (ticking off all the Cal Bear fans), and me on the right.
Our aid station had a cutoff of 8:15, and we were told that it was a firm cutoff. Enforcing a cutoff is never fun, but we didn't have many runners left that hadn't already made it to us.

The last runner to show up before the cutoff was Yelhsa (not her real name, the one in pink behind her pacer). She arrived at about 8:14. And really wanted a cup of hot broth and tea. When she found out she had about 20 seconds to get out of our aid station or she would be pulled, she said a bad word, smiled, and said she would get her soup at the finish. And took off.

There was one last runner that came in about 15 minutes after the cutoff, but he was ready to drop and we did not have to try to wrestle him to the ground to make him stop.

We took everything down, loaded up the cars, and headed back to the finish area.

It was great to see some of the last runners finish. Including Yelhsa, who ended up passing several others to get here. (She said the cutoff thing had been the perfect inspiration and gave it credit for her quicker than expected finish.)

Tnek (not his real name), who was watching the kids while waiting for Aynwat (not her real name) to finish sweeping, showed some talent at creating two foot high flames while cooking a couple of Boca burgers.
This was the second year for the Fort Ord race and the first for the Ordnance 100K. It wasn't without a few glitches and a number of runners ended up with some bonus mileage. But almost everyone had a great time (although many could not think of a nice word to say about some of the sandy bits they had to deal with). The course is pretty, but deceptively challenging, especially with the final stretch requiring so much climbing.

Volunteering at night presents some bonus challenges, but it also provides some bonus appreciation - the runners, pacers, and crews were especially happy to see us and thrilled at the hot options we had for them. All in all, it was a great way to spend a Saturday.

Especially since I wasn't really in the mood for a Boca burger, "blackened" or not.

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here and here. You can see the pictures Kcnarf took here.

1 comment:

mary ann said...

so nice of you and I love Hazel, her real name I betcha