Monday, December 15, 2008

PCTR Muir Beach 50k

The start of PCTR's Muir Beach 50k 2008.

A volunteer report.

Blogger friend Dave Elliot asks if I'm still around or have gone to winter hibernation. Oh I'm still here just been crazy busy. I just concluded this evening a project that has kept me busy the last three weeks. Having work is good and this one had me working 12-16 hour days. It was a good project and I'm proud of it.

Anyway this past weekend was PCTR's Muir Beach 50k (31 miles) and like most of their 50k events they had options for runners who did not want to cover the full 50k. They offered an 11k, 17k and a 33k race. I've been lagging a bit on the volunteering so it was good to get out and help. Always a fun thing to do, I think so anyway.

Flora came by my place around 6:30AM and after a quick coffee stop we were at the start by 7:15. Already there were two runners ready to check in, anxious buggers. Forecast called for rain but it was nice out and clear skies. It was quite cool no doubt and there was a cold wind blowing in from the Pacific. Soon the start was buzzing with activity; lines for the registration / check in tables and lines for the porta-potties or as they say up in the Pacific Northwest, my all time favorite term for porta-potties, "honey buckets".

Familiar faces came strolling in and it was good to catch up. Some folks like Chuck Wilson, I've seen for the third consecutive weekend. Chuck was the aid station captain for Cardiac Hill for the Quad Dipsea, he ran the Northface 50-miler for his 60th birthday and ran the 50k on Saturday. Fred Ecks came dressed as Santa Claus and he ran in that suit the whole 50k. Good thing the temperatures stayed cool.

The weather was great considering the forecast which called for rain. It only rained once, for about 10 minutes then it was over. The wind stayed cold however and some of the runners mentioned that up on the ridges it got quite cold. The trails on this part of the Marin Headlands are exposed and open, great views but no protection against the wind or driving rain. The rain also had us scrambling to cover the computer equipment, one timing machines bit the dust though, hopefully it starts working again when it dries out. The main timer kept going though.

I was all over the race which was great; set up, registration table, finish line timing, 50k aid station, grocery run and clean up. The majority of my time was spent taking down numbers as runners came in to the finish. Now I'm one of those trail runners who fold down their number as small as possible before pinning it on. I will still do that but from now on I will help the number takers by yelling out my number as I come through aid stations and finish lines. I was going cross eyed looking at moving numbers and those are the ones who had it displayed in the front. Many folks had them behind or under clothing. Had to chase a few even. One runner had his number folded into a tiny package tucked away in a zippered compartment on his waist pack, nice.

Most of the runners I spoke to / saw looked like they had a great time. The 50k runners looked a bit worn with some looking a little wasted but they seemed to enjoy the course too.

We were there all day. Flora swept part of the course at the end of the day and she came in after the sun had gone down - we left shortly after that. She drove back to Berkeley and I caught the train back to San Francisco.

A beautiful well spent day. After coming back to San Francisco I had dinner with my cousin Margie and her husband Adam. I met them in downtown where they were doing their Christmas shopping. We had dinner. I felt dirty, dusty and salty but thankful I didn't spend most of my day shopping and fighting crowds.

Congratulations to all the runners.

A Class Act
A huge big shout out to Will Gotthardt. Will was racing the 50k and was running with the lead pack as he usually does when he noticed that there was some vandalism on the course. Some kids had taken down some of the ribbons and placed them on other trails. This could have waylaid the other 50k runners as well as the 33k runners who were on the same loop had Will not stopped and REMARKED the course. The desire to chase and keep up with the lead pack lost to the sense of duty he felt towards his fellow runners. I'll drink a beer to that, I'm drinking one right now actually. Well done Will!

Fred Ecks as Santa, Beat Jegerlehner and Jochen Horn who is picking up his number.

Scott Dunlap in his snazzy new Inov8 race gear.

Ryan Commons, at the start, pointing to 33k course record holder Andrew Sullivan.

Will Gotthardt warming up at the start.

Go Santa Go!

Adventure racer Brian Schmitz at the conclusion of his 33k race. Brian is also one of the newest members of Marin County Search and Rescue.


  1. "Honey Buckets"? Are you kidding me? OMG
    Scott Dunlap is always such a snazzy dresser. Sounds like you had a good day helping Sarah & Wendell.

  2. Looks like a fun time. Be ready for RR100 !

  3. I was at a trail race in Michigan a few years ago where a prankster rerouted the trail. That kind of stuff causes confusion and makes runners not very happy afterwards. Pretty cool that a lead runner would stop and remark the trail. Hats off to him!

  4. Sounds like you had a good, fun day Rick. Helping out at races is a blast, and I need to get out soon and do that again soon!

    That was a fantastic move by Will, thanks for giving him the props - he deserves it! Ain't the trail/ultra community grand?!?

    Happy Holidays! :-)

  5. Looks like fun!!!

  6. Time well spent, and way to go to Will! You've heard last year at Waldo there was a bad case fo vandalism 9during national 100k with elite runners and money purse to boot), and Meghan A. stopped and remarked the course for following! Then she went on to win the race outright:) That's classic! I mean, for a lead runner to help the rest of the crowd. Gotta love ultra-folks.
    Stop drinking beer!

  7. Will's actions are why I personally have taken a liken to the Trail running community

  8. BTW, I am not going to take any "sight" pictures on my trip - I am not leaving the house unless it's a walk between my sis and my parents. It's winter in Moscow, dude!

  9. Looks like a nice trail out there! Sounds like a fun day.

    I am all registered for the Pemberton 50K...on a relay team. I will do a 25K loop as my for really reals first ultra. I am excited but a leetle nervous about getting lost. I am going to have to find someone my speed and latch on. It's the same course as JJ100 but it doesn't get marked with those little flags. Should be fine. Glad you got your project done. :>)

  10. "Honey Buckets" were one of my favorite things about running Hood to Coast this year. Hee hee.

    Will I see you out there this weekend too?

  11. Nice meeting you at the event Rick (I was one of those wornout looking 50K runners). And thanks for your inspirational comments. You're a real sweetheart for helping out and encouraging us newbies.


  12. Rick,

    Alan Geraldi tagged me and I'm tagging you in turn. The questions are on my blog.

    Happy Holidays to you.


  13. Nice work getting out there and volunteering. I'm not sure why anyone would want to opt for the shorter distance :)

  14. What?!? What is this about Java doing an ultra?!? Oh my word!!

    You're such a sweetie volunteering :-) Sounds like a very cool day!

  15. Thanks Rick (and others above)...I wish I could say the decision to re-mark the vandalized course was done without hesitation, but truth is I first considered just running on through, as I knew the correct trail, and was caught up in the race.

    Ribbons & signs were placed 30yds down into a residential area, 20yds up a dead-end hill, and then close to 100yds down a fireroad...definitely done with intent to effectively place the event in chaos at that point (~7M in).

    It took 4min40sec to remove/re-mark, and as I told PCTR RD Sarah later, I was in fine form, loudly cussing & swearing while then trying to direct the pile up of runners that began about 3min back.

    Got to running again, and had pulled back most of those who had passed by the final long climb of the 33K loop, only to have some trouble with my lower back, so I hobbled the descent and took a DNF.

    I'll repeat myself, but a terrific year for you Rick, fast/strong finishes throughout...congrats.

    Will G.

  16. We came from Colorado, loved the weather, and would also have paid homage to Will if we had run beyond the 17k. That's a good story. Sorry 'bout the lower back.