My Day As An Aid Station Volunteer

Well Hi there! I have a quick little anecdote for you…

Some friends of mine signed up for the Ray Miller 50/50 race out in Point Mugu State Park about a month ago. I noticed on Facebook the race director was looking for volunteers and since I was going to watch Rocky, I thought ‘why not?’. Working an aid station always seemed like fun to me. Watching all the runners coming in need of food/water and trying to keep their spirits up sounded like alot of fun. SO…I emailed the race director and said I’d like to help out! Fortunately, we were assigned an aid station that was at a major junction on the race course. All runners for all distances would hit our aid station at miles 4, 11 and 16. OOF.

Since our station was early on in the race, we needed to be set up and ready to go around 5:30am.  The 100k race started at 5am and we figured it would take some of the faster people roughly 25-30mins to get to us. So let’s do the math in reverse… 5:30am ready to go. 30 mins of prep. 30 mins to drive to the spot. 1 hr drive from home to get to the gate into the park. 30 mins to wake up and throw back some coffee.

Alarm time set for: 2:30am.

That’s when I had to set my alarm. Luckily, my good friend Jaime was volunteering as well and had a truck to drive through the park. I told him the night before that I was setting my alarm for ‘tonight’. Not, ‘tomorrow morning’. It was so early that I didn’t consider getting up at 2:30am ‘the morning.’

I packed everything I needed the night before. Fall weather is in effect here and we were going to be out by the ocean so I packed layers just in case and some snacks to eat. I am a BIG fan of layering. You never know what the weather is going to throw at you.

Jaime and I drove down the 101 Freeway at 3am en route to the trail head. Believe it or not, there was STILL TRAFFIC. About 10 mins into the drive, we hit traffic. We panicked for like a second thinking we were going to be late but a few minutes later, we found out there was some construction going on. Luckily, we made it there with about 10 minutes to spare. I still don’t think my body had realized how early it was yet. After we loaded the 100+ gallons of water into the vehicles, we were off down a dark fire road. After about a half hour of bumps and turns, we climbed ‘Hell Hill’ (about a mile long) and arrived at the junction.

We had about a half hour to set up the aid station before we would start seeing runners so we needed to MOVE. It was totally dark still so headlamps went on and we were ready to go! I’ve never seen so many gallons of water in my entire life.

Our table was full of anything a runner would want to eat or drink. Water, electrolytes, GUs, Clif Blocks, chips, potatoes, PBJ… you name it!

5:30 am hit and everything was in place. We looked up over the hill and started to see head lamps bobbing in the distance.

It was time.

For the next 7 hours, we were hit with waves of excited/happy/serious/nervous/grateful runners in need of fuel and a high five. We really did get an array of emotions. Most people were really appreciative and thanked us over and over for being out there. Others were in the zone (which is fine) but there were a few that decided to take some emotions out on us (which is….ok). I understand where they’re coming from. Some people are either having a really bad day, took a wrong turn or are just downright cranky. Luckily, there weren’t alot of these people. The aid station team kept smiling and cheering as best we could while refilling hydration packs and sent them on their way.

During all of this, we were able to see all of our fellow Fleet Feet runners in the race. It was nice to hear afterwards that our presence out there made a difference. (Achievement Unlocked!)

Finally, around 1:30pm, the feeling of accomplishment set in along with a flood of exhaustion. I was finally feeling the effect of being up at 2:30am and running around on my feet for 7 hours carrying endless gallons of water. It was time for a nap. Once the last runner was accounted for, we packed up and hit the road.

On the drive back, I had time to reflect on this experience. I thought about how tired I was but what I was feeling probably couldn’t even compare to what the runners were feeling. They had all run 20 miles or more that day. But then, I thought comparing myself to that was silly. I love this community and I love watching my friends and others take on these tough races. They are my inspiration every day and being out there cheering them on is one of my favorite things to do. Working as a volunteer is my way of giving back to the running community. So many people and opportunities have come to me through running. I’d take that feeling of exhaustion any day if it meant I could be out there cheering on all my friends.




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