Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Volunteering at PCTR's Skyline to the Sea 50k

Quite chilly at the start. Didn't seem to bother some people.

Jochen, Sarah Spelt of PCTR and myself at the first aid station at Waterman Gap.

Brett Rivers (7th) and Nathan Yanko (3rd) of The Endurables and Trail Run Times, Will Gotthardt (4th), Caitlin Smith (10th and 1st Woman, new female course record holder), Mark Tanaka (14th), while Dan Brown (15th) hangs out catching his breath at the side. Someone donate some of their body fat to Mark Tanaka, he ran with his La Sportiva team jacket the whole time, even when it warmed up. He's fresh off a 2nd place finish at the McNaughton Races, the 150-mile event.

Winner and new course record holder, Leor Pantilat, Brian Wyatt and Caitlin Smith. Brian is a good friend and one of the folks I consistently race against. He's running quite strong this year, following up his 10th place finish at the Mt. Diablo 50-miler last weekend with a 12th place finish here with a 4:21:40.

With The Endurables Larissa Polichuk and Nathan Yanko.

Will G., tireless volunteer, front pack runner and now a t-shirt model. Sporting the shirt for this year's event. Design by another tireless volunteer, Miki Higuchi.

This race which was run for the first time last year in September was moved to April because of problems with yellow jackets. The front pack would get them all riled up and the rest of the field would smack right into them. I think it was Steve Holman who had over a dozen stings last year. Well at least it brought out the best in people. Runners would take the time to dust off the insects from their fellow competitors. They would get stuck in clothing, hair, and sting away. However Spring is quite a busy time in the Bay Area for ultra events. As much as I wanted to I had to bow out. I know my body. It would not be happy about a fast 50k after a tough 50-miler prior to a 100k. The race is mostly downhill and there's just no way I would hold back on a course like that. I live for downhills. I know my body and I know myself so I did the smart thing and stayed in the sidelines.

However there's more than one way to enjoy the race. A friend was running and several of us came down to support her. I figured since I was going to be down there anyway I might as well volunteer. We stopped by at the start, watched them go and then proceeded to the first aid station to help out. From there we headed to the finish where I took charge of heating up the chili and chicken soup. By the time we got there the first 7 finishers had already come in and I got a chance to rub elbows with the speedsters as the rest of the group filtered in. Serving the chili and soup was quite rewarding. Not only was in charge of a hot commodity - hot food, but I got to talk to people about their race. From the leaders to the back of the pack I got the scoop on the course this year. Definitely no yellow jackets and an abundance of water. People were raving about a waterfall and a creek on the course. It was somewhat dry when we came through last year. Met new folks, connected with new internet friends in person and got caught up with old ones.

La Sportiva Mountain Running Team's Leor Pantilat and Caitlin Smith won the day, both setting new course records. I was able to chat with them afterwards and Leor mentioned that he wasn't in peak shape. Caitlin on the other hand felt like she could have run more despite getting lost on the course. Full results here.

Our runner Dana came in with a huge smile in her face, finishing her first 50k. It didn't take too long for her to start limping. She had the "fried quads walk." I checked on her yesterday and she replied, "Quads hurt! I am walking like everystep costs money and I am debating whether I want to spend or save."

For those of you who can relate, smile with me:)

Dana with her gang of supporters and PCTR's Sarah Spelt.

DSCN0192.JPGBig smile!

DSCN0193.JPGSarah and Wendell congratulate her as the rest of us look on.

DSCN0194.JPGShe even got a hug. Sometimes these things just even up being hugfests as the day goes on or is it just Sarah. She doesn't mind hugging sweaty, salty runners.

DSCN0198.JPGAnd finally a chance to sit down with her hound, Mr. Chance E. Pants, her guy Brian and the rest of us.

For the complete photoset, click here.


  1. I wanna live where you live so I can participate in all those PCTR runs in different ways!

  2. Awesome photos! It looks like such a beautiful race. Thanks for the recap!

  3. It was nice to meet you, Rick. Thanks for the soup and see you soon!

  4. the most memorable thing that i experienced when i had my first Bulldog 50K ultra trail run last August last year was not the race itself but the kindness and attention i got from the volunteers from the 3 Aid Stations (along the 25K-loop). At the 1st Aid Station (on my 2nd loop), a volunteer sprayed a cold water on my face/head and body while I was waiting for my water & sports drinks being filled up and it gave me a refreshing feeling. At the 2nd Aid Station, an old lady requested me to untie my bandana and had it submerged in their ice chest for few seconds while i was eating some pretzels. the ice-soaked bandana gave me much relief to reach the last aid station. At the last aid station, I was offered a can of Mountain Dew while another guy filled up my water & sports drinks bottles. These experiences will never be forgotten and I wanted my Bataan 102 staff/volunteers to do the same to the runners once they approach the Aid Stations.

  5. Nice to see the warmth and smile from the people (volunteers as well as runners). They sure make the race a little "light and easier". Nice pictures too.

    Yup, FUN should be the operative word.

  6. Sounds like fun times. Glad to hear the yellowjackets were quiet this time. They were really bad last fall, kinda scared me away. David got a dozen stings, and I had about 6.

    Dana looks very happy. Why couldn't we have had this kind of weather the previous weekend?


  7. Never seen an area with so many great races...wow...you are one fortunate catdaddy!

  8. Those people really made your race a memorable one; I wonder why it's not being applied here, a country known for its hospitality.

    Thank you Rick for those nice pictures and experiences...fantastic view and wonderful people.

  9. I wish I had been there last weekend! (Volunteering OR running, now that there are no yellow jacket issues!)

    And yes, I think it's just Sarah-- she is the finish line queen of hugs.

    Good luck this weekend-- I will definitely see you out there-- I'll probably see you come through Bolinas waiting for Mike and then I'll definitely see you at the end.

  10. "tireless volunteer, front pack runner and now a t-shirt model".You can obviously add 'complete dork' to that list.

    [oh well]

    Thanks for being out there all day Rick.

    Will G.