Today I volunteered at the TARC Spring Classic Trail Run in Weston, MA. It was a great opportunity to see the struggles and emotions people go through in completing an ultramarathon. I played witness to pure joy, pain like you've never seen and sheer determination displayed by all the competitors today.
My day started off with my alarm at 4am and a quick breakfast. A coffee stop was necessary and a 5:30 arrival in weston. I was put right to work with the mass production of pb and j's. After about 30 sandwiches, I filled some water jugs and mixed some gu brew. Next was some signage on the leading trail into the woods. We put the TARC logo and some footprints to lead the way. My next mission was the direction police at an interesting/difficult intersection about .5 miles from the start. This is where I stayed from 8 to 12.
I was told to stay till the 10K people went through on their finishing loop, but many people were having trouble finding there way. There was four races in total, the 10k, half, full and 50k. I didn't feel right leaving the intersection at all. Many of the 50k people were still confused after 3 loops (6.2 miles per loop). Another volunteer came about noon to tell me to come back to the start/finish. When there I told the RD's that it was a difficult intersection and that someone should man it. We'll, I grabbed a banana and headed back. The rain really started to pick up know and I was getting extremely cold and wet. It was 2pm when the RD came to relieve me. I told him I had to head in to get some warm clothes on. I couldn't feel my hands and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably.
While standing at this intersection, numerous people would run by and I'd say "nice job" or "looking good". We exchanged funny comments at times to keep the mood light and all. Many even used me as a target point. "I just need to get to the guy in the woods and I have 1.5 miles left to the finish" some would say. One woman said she "loved me" and that she was so happy to see me she would kiss me. Other people said I'll see you in a hour when I return on the loop. So going back to the start/finish was hard because I was leaving about 20 people out there that had relied on me (not really, but mentally maybe).
After getting warmed up, I ate a cookie and brownie (I know, real healthy). By this time the last people were coming close to finishing. I then headed back out with Kevin Z (another vol) to take down the course markings. It was nice to get a run in and stay warm.
All in all this was a great experience. An experience that I think every person should try once in their lives. Not just ultrarunners. You learn so much about people when they are really stripped down due to the mental and physicall pain. The RD's, Bob Crowley and Josh Katzman put on a first class race. They are also really cool people that I hope to race/volunteer again with. The TARC series is a legit series of races right here in MA, which is a great thing. It got me thinking, how about a race in cmass? They have the wapack in north central ma, the spring and fall classics towards boston as with the fells, why not cmass? Maybe I might just step up to the plate...