I’m sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Sacramento scribbling on one of those tiny hotel notepads while my phone charges. Formula One is on the TV and the housekeeping staff is vacuuming and cleaning up the continental breakfast fixings. I’m feeling a bit wrecked after crewing at Western States yesterday, but I am chock full of stories. Here’s the one I’d start off with if I wasn’t wearing an immobilization boot and we were running together:
Brian, Chris and I met the friend we were crewing for at the Green Gate aid station, at mile 80. The shuttle from the Calgary Chapel Church parking lot dropped us about a mile uphill from the station and we hiked the rest of the way down towards the American River. (The podiatrist will be pleased to know the immobilization boot can handle some pretty steep grades.) We looked like a group of disorganized sherpas loaded down with shoulder bags, an ice-filled cooler, a folding chair, and a jug of water. Nonetheless, we outpaced other crew teams to the bottom — even with a mid-hill porta-potty stop. We’re good. (Well, Brian and Chris are good. The schlep confirmed that I need to start doing some bicep curls.)
We found some level ground, dropped the baggage, and then Chris and Brian headed down to the river to meet our runner. I puttered around organizing things for a speedy transition. Then the mosquitos and I sat down to spend some time with one another. I have not been surrounded by so many mosquitos since I worked in the Alaskan wilderness. Mosquitos usually bite the people around me and leave me alone (sour blood), but these one treated me like a tasty dessert. I would gone into hypovolemic shock if I hadn’t thought to stuff a windbreaker and a pair of pants into one of the bags we were carrying. (And, no, it is not easy to put on a pair of pants over an immobilization boot while you’re standing in your underwear in the bushes — just out of sight of the runners going by — especially if the boot gets stuck in the pant’s leg for thirty seconds.)
After I’d gotten my armor on, I had fun watching the crew to my left down beer after beer. It seemed questionable they’d be able to stand when their runner finally arrived.
I also watched the parents of another runner get ready for her arrival. The dad marked down each female runner’s time on a metal clipboard as she went by. He and his wife wore great matching crew shirts. Our runner’s parents also wore matching shirts — with a picture of their son from elementary school on the front. He was wearing medals he’d won in a race around his neck. (Yes Asa, your father and I plan to make matching t-shirts for some future competition of yours. We’ll use that picture of you walking around naked with a big blue bucket over your head.)
I did a lot of people-watching yesterday between brief stints of frenzied crewing. It was great fun to see the lead runners speed by, but the runners’ families were an even grander show.
Let me know if you have any questions about the race. We got to see a lot of the women’s race — everything except the sprint finish after the bear encounter.
Gotta get on a plane now and get home to my sweet family.
And welcome home brother in-law!!
Some race reports