This past weekend I had the honor of being on the race crew at the amazing Knee Knacker 50K. I jumped at the offer to marshal on the course of one of my race goals. It was so fun to be around all these amazing, determined athletes racing one hell of a course in the stoking hot sun. I definitely felt inspired.
I was part of the LSCR team. We all assembled around 8:30AM and put together one of the most amazing spreads I’ve ever seen at an aid station. We had a red carpet glamour theme, a red carpet stretching up to the station, a velvet rope set up along the trees, stars and balloons.
Everyone hard at work putting together all that amazing fuel and those great decorations.
Water and electrolytes!
As much of the spread as I could get into one photo! Fruits, veggies, cheeses, crackers, cookies, chips, gels, gels and more gels, there was even beer!
Once I took my position, I stood just after the bridge coming off of Rice Lake Road blocking the entrance to the trail to the suspension bridge, pointing everyone “Yes, up the hill” towards the aid station.
Trail to the suspension bridge. Beautiful, but my job was to steer you away.
I LOVE this spot! I was so lucky to be in the shade for most of the morning. I was standing around 22 miles into the 30 mile course - I knew everyone passing me by would either a) be on the 4th or 5th wind of their runner’s high or b) would be wanting to die. I’ve been both of those runners passing a marshal in my races and I can say I’ve had my day made by a smile and cheer either way. Glare or a grin and a thank you, I made sure everyone knew they looked strong and were doing some amazing work out there.
Obligatory race crew selfie… mostly because I had a lot of time to kill earlier in the day.
While I relaxed and took in the scenery first thing in the morning, snapped some photos of the scenery and some fun selfies of my sweet race shirt, I couldn’t believe it when I heard the cheering from the marshal on the other side of the bridge… The first runner.. already? I recognized him right away, Mike Murphy, all banged up but looking strong and in the zone, I later read his race report and felt beast wasn’t strong enough of a word.
Here’s where I started to feel a bit creepy…. over the past year or so, I’ve been reading blogs of local ultra runners and following all the instagrams I can. Some of them I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and even running with, but mostly, I just read about the experiences of those at the level I want to be. I stood in that trail all morning telling people they looked strong, were beasts, were doing great, and food was coming. Seeing so many of my favourite local runners in action was truly something special, and if you ever happen to stumble upon this post: YOU ARE ALL AMAZING, INSPIRING ATHLETES. I can’t wait to race with you one day.
I waited eagerly for runners to cross over this bridge towards me.
Memorable Race Crew Moments/Things That Made Me Smile:
- Aid Station decor! I have to say, I wont soon forget the fun a couple of us had trying to install that “velvet rope” along the trees of the red carpet. You’d think it would be easier to stick bamboo in the ground. Nope! But, we pulled it off!
- Interacting with the families and friends of all the participants. In 6 hours, I did not move, but my scenery was ever changing. I always had dad and the kids, or wife and the dog to sit and chat with. I would ask the kids what colour mom was wearing and we’d get excited together as she came over the bridge.
- The love a dog has for its owner. Ok, this is no secret… but have you ever seen a running buddy dog on the sidelines of a race as their owner runs by? Its amazing. The love and excitement… and even heart break of wishing they could run with them. Beautiful.
- Seeing that even the greatest ones fall and take walking breaks. Seeing the lead man run by me covered in blood, watching as a couple of my biggest inspirations walked passed me and seeing others groan at the hill ahead, was refreshing. We’re all human. This is an amazing, tiring feet. The wall is real and it happens to everyone.
- I’ve been told many stories of ultras and the space that grows between runners, but it really was interesting to see that a 50k really is a race against yourself to finish above all else. The average time I saw between each runner was usually 5 to 10 minutes. Sometimes even longer.
Congrats to everyone who took on the Knee Knacker on the hottest day the event has ever seen. I hope recovery has been good to you.