Monday, September 10, 2012

Susquehanna Super Hike - Volunteer Edition

As it would go, I ran my race last week of 45 miles so there was no way I would be able to run again this weekend. Especially not 28.4 miles on the Mason-Dixon and Conestoga Trails! No way! So Rik decided he was going to run and I would volunteer. It ended up that I ho-hummed around at registering to volunteer when I saw my good friend Leon at the race the week before and he said he could use some help at his Aid Station that he was manning with Backcountry Edge. I was in!

The Super Hike is a point to point race that starts on the York side of the Susquehanna River at Otter Creek Campground. Follows the Mason-Dixon Trail down to Holtwood Dam and crosses Norman Wood Bridge and then follows the Conestoga trail north to Pequea Campground. It draws a good mix of trail runners and hikers with a max of 500 people.

We have camped at Otter Creek several times so we opted to stay at Pequea campground this weekend. Got there Friday early evening and was pleasantly surprised to see so many other people that were setting up for the weekend. Since this is the finish for the race, it is also where people would be parking Saturday morning to be bused over to the start. So there were many people in a group parking area that seemed to be just sleeping in their cars and trucks for the night. There was a very cool vibe in the campground because of this!

We headed to bed at a decent hour but the alarm went off at 4:30...way to early! Got ready and made our way over to Otter Creek before 6am. It was so awesome to see so many people catching the buses for the ride over but glad I wasnt one of them!

Rik got signed in and we met up with a bunch of friends that were all running that day. There were predicted storms for the day and this morning it was indeed very overcast, humid and just generally ominous looking.
The crowd at the start.
Fast guys up front.
They got started right on time at 7am! The race starts with about a 5mile loop on trails around the campground. Here is Rik and Brian finishing up the first loop.
Still smiling!
After that I headed down to Lock 12 to where I would be volunteering. This is also Checkpoint 2 and about 15.5 miles into the race. I got down there before 8:30 and we werent expecting runners until after 9 so I helped set up the tents and get things ready. Then I set up my chair since my job for the day was to check in runners as they passed.

Sure enough, not much past 9 and the first runner comes in! No surprise it was my friend Jesse who was the favorite to win this day. He refilled and quickly moved on his way. The next runner to come through was another friend and favorite of the day, Josh. He was about 12 mins behind the leader and looked great too.

I checked a couple of more runners through that I knew...Scott, Chad, etc. And then came Rik along with Brian and Paul! There were two girls running together who were doing pretty good but cant remember if they were before or after Rik. Either way, they were doing pretty awesome! My friend Cassie was the third female to come through...and she even ran 50 miles in the race last weekend with me! Badass chick!!

Once those front runners came through things started to get busy! With 400 runners coming through our check point it got quite busy at times! It was most busy when they came in groups which made it difficult to make sure we were able to get all their correct numbers before quickly sending them on their way. Thank goodness a guy named Adam came over to chat and ended up staying with me for hours and helping check people in! I would have been in trouble without his help. As time went on we started fielding DNFs. And alot of family members asking if so and so came through yet. We even had the HAM (?) radio guys there who we were working with and communicating to other points throughout the race. It was all very well organized.
Busy Aid Station/Check point 2
The forecast was different then expected in that many people were worried about rain and storms during the day and instead they were dealing with a very humid day. The skies began to clear and the sun came out. It heated up even more and the people coming in were looking more ragged. Many continued on but many decided to call it a day here at the 15.5 mile mark.

Our cut off for this check point was 1:30. And by 1:30 I realized that I was extremely hungry and thirsty. There was no shade left where I had been stationed...we kept moving to find more until there was none left. Until I was done I couldnt see straight from looking at so many numbers! I could only imagine how those runners and hikers were feeling. By the time I left, there were over 19 people waiting for rides back to the finish area to their cars.

I headed back to the finish area to find Rik. When I got there I was surprised to find out that Jesse was hurting and dropped which left Josh to take home the win for the day. Josh, Scott, Chad and Rik were all standing together when they told me that they (all York guys that often run together) had taken the top 4 spots!!!

I didnt stick around long. I head up to the campsite to grab something to eat. I came back down just as the rain started. It cleared out alot of people. Good thing the pavilion was pretty big and had garage doors on the side because it stormed pretty hard. Yes, there were still people out on the trails and coming in to the finish! In fact, by the time it started storming and raining, I believe less then 50 people had finished. Which means there were alot of people out in that storm. We cheered even louder for them as they came running in!   Many of them said that the rain was a nice relief from the heat of the day.

Overall it was a great day. Things seemed to go well for the race and the runners. The heat and humidity seemed to be the worse and there was just one area that runners were saying that they really could have used another water stop.

After party the runners got to enjoy fruit smoothies and iced coffee drinks from the Sheetz truck as well as hot dogs, hamburgers, kale & bean soup, macaroni salad, brownies, drinks from Turkey Hill, etc. They seemed happy :-)

Since it was still raining and it was getting crowded in the pavilion we headed up to the campsite and a couple of friends came back for a bit for a couple of cold drinks and to share stories about the race.
Rik, Gary & Greg- proud finishers!!
If you are thinking about doing this it! It is tough but the rewards of saying that you did it are just awesome! You could just see the sense of accomplishment on every persons face that crossed the finish line. You have a whole 12 hours to do it. You can do it. I hope to join in the fun next year!

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