Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 Miwok 100k - Volunteering

May 03, 2014 had been circled on my calendar for quite sometime.  The Miwok 100k race was one of the first ultra-marathons I had heard of and became an immediate "bucket list" item for me, if for no other reason, because of the excellent play on words used for it's original name: "What Mi-Wok?".  Of course, there are many more things than the fun word-play making this a desirable race.  The course is drop-dead gorgeous, extremely challenging (this year's course boasted 12,500 feet of climbing), and draws a strong field of experienced ultra-runners.

Having finally been drawn in the lottery, I was filled to the brim with excitement and was really looking forward to testing myself on this course and qualifying for my 3rd straight Western States 100 M lottery.  Alas, it was not to be this year.  May 03, 2014 had arrived and my ankle had in no way healed to a point where starting this race was feasible, particularly considering that I will be traveling to South Africa on May 24, to run Comrades on June 1st.

I decided to do what I could to experience the race without running it, so I contacted the race director, Tia and offered to volunteer.  Tia replied to my inquiry, offering up the most coveted of volunteer duties.  Directing people into the Stinson Beach parking lot at 3:30 AM.

I stayed in Mill Valley, roughly 30 minutes from the Miwok start.  After a few hours of sleep, my alarm sounded at 2:30 AM and I was off to Stinson Beach, where I would stand in the dark for ~1.5 hours, wielding a small flashlight and an orange vest and flag.  I pointed.  Just before 5 AM, I headed over to the community center just as the race was starting.  Once the runners were off, I met Tia, enjoyed some nice chat as we headed over to the local coffee shop for lattes and americanos.  At 6:30 AM or so, I loaded my truck up with runners drop bags and toted them over to the Tennessee Valley aid station, where I would spend my day encouraging runners, helping them find their drop bags, food, beverages, band aides, or whatever else they might  need.  I urged them to go on, to run the race that I was unable to start.  I really enjoyed the day, it was great to see so many friends who were either volunteering, crewing, or running.

At ~6:30 PM, I headed back to Stinson Beach and cheered for the finishers, all the way until the 9:30 PM cutoff.  The finish line was a beautiful and emotional place, there were too many great stories and inspirations to list.  The last runner finished and focus shifted to clearing out the finish area and the community center.  I helped out, packing trash, stacking chairs and tables, and bringing food to runners, until there was no more work to do.  At 12:00 AM, my day was complete and I headed back to Mill Valley.

I witnessed countless inspirational feats, met some amazing people, and really enjoyed the day!

Some pics:

Packed up the truck, heading for Tennesee Valley

I can't believe all that fit!

Gary Gellin at mile 36, Tennessee Valley, en route to a win and "modern course" record.
Photo featured on trailrunnermag.com

Brendan Trimboli 2nd overall

Jean Pommier 3rd overall

Gary Gellin's second trip through Tennessee Valley, mile ~48

Pal Jeff Le

Bruce Falzarano

Pal Charley Jones



Tia, "Rocket" Errol Jones, and I at the finish.

Lucy did not make the trip. :(

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