A few basics about this aid station for those of you new to this:
- It's the best. Always gets great Yelp reviews.
- It's mile 43.3 - just long enough for the runners to get good and warmed up.
- It's the aid station before Deadwood Canyon and Devil's Thumb. If a runner has not warmed up, this will do the trick. (Or totally break that runner.)
- We have no crew access and no pacers at this point. As volunteers, we have the runner's full attention.
- Since part of the course is the "road" to Last Chance, you have to either get there Friday night (recommended since you get to run part of the trail if you'd like!) or by 9AM on Saturday. And you can't leave until the aid station closes, around 5:30.
- But if you leave before 6:00 or so, you can get to the finish line in time to see the winner come in. (Unless the winner sets a course record.)
This year, Bonnie and I hauled about 1200 pounds of ice to the aid station. This was way more than in previous years, but Superstar Lon at the WSER warehouse insisted we take more than we thought we needed, just to make sure. (He was wise - we went through almost all of it, and it was great to be super generous to the runners, who continue to find more places to shove ice.)
|Breaking in the new minivan - I'm sleeping in style tonight!|
|600 pounds of ice in there, with room for a lot more!|
|An amazingly large trailer for a relatively small 125 gallon water tank.|
|The trail of signs.|
|This is a lie. The dragons don't help at all with the mosquitos.|
Sleeping in the minivan was great, and left me fresh for race day.
|Most of the Last Chance volunteers. It's amazing how many people come out to this remote location to spend a day helping the runners.|
And, in case you missed it, Last Chance is the best aid station of them all.
|Eventual winner with an amazing record setting time, Jim takes his shirt off to soak it good.|
|"Make me an ice burrito!"|
|Lucy smiling because her hat's full of ice.|
|Speedgoat trying for an interesting tan.|
|Lon rocking the crop top and Popeye arms!|
|Brazen Sam getting the works.|
|Cory, true to his "Nowhere Near First" book, being nowhere near first, but looking strong.|
- Record pace: 11:17 (this will be updated next year)
- 24 hour pace: 2:05
- 30 hour pace: 4:20
- Aid station cutoff: 5:25
The race cutoff is 30 hours, so it might seem odd to keep the aid station open for a bit over an hour longer than that projected 30 hour pace, but a lot can happen in that last 57 miles, so it's wise to let more runners through than the historical projections predict will finish.
Cory Reese was a poster child for that. He came in at nearly 5:00 - well off the 30 hour pace and seemingly doomed. But Cory has great 100M skills. He didn't panic, got iced up and cooled off, then headed off to the canyon. (A number of other runners coming in at a similar time were a bit panicked, and didn't feel they could take the time to get iced and cooled off - I suspect most if not all of these didn't finish.)
Here's some stats:
- Runners in between 4:00-4:19 - 24, of which 18 finished (14 in the final hour).
- Runners in between 4:20-4:44 - 22, of which 14 finished (13 in the final hour).
- Runners in between 4:45-4:59 - 29, of which only 9 finished.
- Runners in between 5:00-closing - 11, of which none finished.
We had five runners drop at our aid station, most due to missing the cutoff.
Once the aid station was closed and packed up, I headed down to the finish line in Auburn, but was too late to see Jim finish. My intent was to hang out until the race was over at 11:00 on Sunday morning, but I was kind of a mess. I think the heat really beat me up at the aid station, plus a couple of friends that I wanted to see finish ended up missing cutoffs and had to drop. In the end, I took a bit of a nap, saw a few friends finish, then headed home early.
|"There's a guy in a crop top on the track!" Lon makes it look good though.|
|Mandie was the official Last Chance runner (each aid station is given a race entry), and got her second finish in a row!|
Looking back at the Last Chance stats, Cory was one of the nine in that 4:45-4:59 group that finished. With over four minutes to spare (YIKES)! He was the last runner to leave Last Chance to get a finish, and only one runner finished after him. That's truly impressive!
Volunteering at Last Chance is a lot of work, but it's so cool to get to interact with both the elites and the mortals, to play a small part in their races as they all try to score a buckle.
Or at least Popeye arms.
That's it - move along…
PS: One of the most horrifying things that can happen at an aid station is for a runner to leave something behind. But it happens, especially when we get really busy. We try hard to avoid that, but we did have a few times where we had to chase down a runner to get them their sunglasses or a water bottle. We only ended up with one item that we couldn't get to the runner because he was long gone - an ice buff that was likely sorely missed. That's the first time in my eight years there that I remember this happening, but I suspect it's a bit more common than that. I really hope that runner made it and was able to use a backup.
PPS: Here are links to more of my pictures: The Signs and The General Shots.