Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bridal Trails Volunteer

For the past few years the Bridal Trails 50K has been a slush and mudfest. Last year several dedicated ultra runners threw in the towel due to drenching rain mixed with Snow and temperatures in the low 30's. The run is held at Bridal Trails State Park in Kirkland WA. The course is mostly single track trail that loops for 5 miles around the park. One aid station in the park provided food and drink for the runners. The course is marked with survey tape and glow sticks. The reason for the glow sticks is that the 50K run starts at 3:10 PM and the last runners came in around 10:30 PM.

I've actually never run this particular race but I've heard stories of mud/water coming up to mid-calf as the trail is massaged by the runners when they complete their laps. This year mud was not a problem. The temperature at 2:00 PM when I arrived was around 27 degrees F. and it was snowing lightly. The trails were covered with about 3 inches of snow that eventually became solid packed ice. Many of the runners told tales of three to four foot slips and slides as they worked their way down some of the hills on the course. The trail was "chunky" in some of the former mud holes which provided some hard to see ankle turners.

Scott McCoubrey, owner of Seattle Running Company allowed me to volunteer at this race to complete my 8 hours of volunteer service for the Western States 100. I helped with setup of the finish area, unloaded the aid station supplies, and prepared bagels, bananas, pb&j, and a number of other aid station essentials for the runners. The park has a kitchen with lights, a stove, microwave and even a little heater. A big sliding window on the front of the kitchen slid open like a concession stand and this served as the aid station. I didn't mention that the race also a 5 mile run, and a 10 mile run. These two races had almost 200 participants with 60 50K runners. Included in the 50K numbers were some adult and youth relay teams. I was on my own for the most part supporting the supplies for the 5 and 10 mile runners who started with staggered starts at 3:00 and 3:05. Once the shorter distance runners were in I had a number of volunteers join me in the aid station to support the distance runners. We had boiled red potatoes, hot chocolate, and Top Ramen chicken soup in addition to the other foods we had provided for the 5 & 10 milers. We ran out of hot water once and experienced about a 10 min delay with the soup during the race but those were the only real glitches.
During the event James Varner and Scott McCoubrey convinced me to switch from the Hagg Lake 50K to the Orcas Island 50K. Scott has run the WS100 before and felt that Orcas would provide a much better training run for WS than the Mud Fest at Hagg Lake.

One of my new ultra running friends scared me when they came into the aid station after finishing the 50K with some cardiac distress. The runner had been affected by tachycardia which put the persons pulse at about 215 - 220. I got the camelbak off of the runner and had the person lay down. I elevated the legs and started talking. This was not the first episode the runner has had and they expected the heart rate to decrease in a few minutes. The runner suggested placing an ice bag on their neck to try to shock the body back to a normal rhythm. It took about eight minutes before the heart rate dropped instantly to around 80 BPM. As soon as the heart rate dropped the person was no longer in distress and they got up and felt as good as a person can after running 50K on a frozen undulating single track trail.

While I was tending to my friend with the tachycardia the last two runners began their last lap for the 50K. As a part of my duties as a volunteer I was given sweep duties. I headed out with a backpack and started plucking the survey tape and light sticks from the course. I caught up with the last runner at about mile 3.5 and was able to chat and run him in as I cleaned up the course. We finished around 10:15 PM and I was able to finish some clean up and leave around 10:30 PM.

This day started with a nice 14 mile run with Rob at 6:00 AM and ended with a secluded 5 mile night run on single track trial. I'm truly living the good life!



Backofpack said...

You forgot to mention the time between the runs spent with your beautiful wife - which is surely the best part of the good life!

olga said...

"I'm truly living the good life!"

You truly do. Including a comment above:)

Good call on Orcas Isl 50k. Though I haven't run it, I do think it's a better start on the overview for what you have to work on next few month. Mud will not be a problem at WS for sure.

Good deal volunttering and helping that person with heart thing, as well as the last runner.

Darrell said...

I've found working the other side fo the race to be a lot of fun. It sounds like you enjoyed it too.

The pics on the Orcas Island site are spectacular. Are you going to get Rob to join you on that one?

robtherunner said...

I saw that on Karen's comments in her race results. Scary incident. That would certainly make me nervous about running long distance.

Good call on switching to Orcas Island 50k. I might try to join you, but not sure if I can swing it. I'll plow up Mt. Peak tomorrow for ya. Have a safe trip.

Thomas said...

So, that's what tachycardia is. Something similar happened to me in September. I didn't tell anyone about it back then, but I might be jolted into writing an entry about it now.

Sarah said...

Sounds like you were the energizer volunteer...doing a little bit of everything...including emergency medic!

Anonymous said...

In order to do the Western States 100, they require you to do some volunteer hours? Interesting. What's the reasoning behind that, do you know? (Great idea, I'm just curious.)

mtnrunR said...

Annette, Volunteering gives back to the sport. Trails can't maintain themselves. Many hours are needed each year to maintain trails. Heck, Where's Waldo 100k has as much as 200 trees each year that fall accross the trail (last year for example.)

I ran Hagg last year before the race and trail maintanence could be done and I counted over 30 trees in the 14 mile trail. Not counting all the blackberry bushes that grow out onto the trail. All of this was gone on race day.

It took over a year to clear the trail to open up Duncan Canyon at Western States and about $20,000 to open up the 5-6 mile section to bring the course back to the original, or close to the original course.

Eric, Yes Orcas is a far better choice than Hagg. Remember the course is a little long, carry extra fluids. Being long, just means you will have more fun!

tom riley

Journey to a Centum said...


Thanks Tom for the great answer to Annette's question.

It's the Western States contribution to trail running. They do it because they can. We would ride a 2000 pound bull named "Taking Care of Business" for 8 seconds if that's what it took to get an opportunity to participate in this event!


angie's pink fuzzy said...

that's awesome! well, not the runner in distress part, but everything else. isn't volunteering great?!

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