Monday, June 01, 2009

Volunteering at Ohlone 50k

The Ohlone Wilderness 50k Run. I like how that sounds. Long climbs, big downhills with exposed trails. It can get hot and a favorite with the crowd training for Western States. When I did it in 06 it was foggy and drizzly. Last year I came back to volunteer and I enjoyed myself so much I was back again this year.

Helen and Samantha picked me up a little after 6am Sunday and we headed East to the race Start. We got there early and I was able to greet a bunch of friends. Helen and I wished Sammy good luck on her run and we raced to our aid station. Helen and I can't be in a car together anymore, we kept getting lost, although the worst one can be blamed on Google maps. The directions sent us on a single lane road that climbed and twisted for a couple of miles before we encountered a sign that said "no outlet". We got to the parking lot 45 minutes late and we still had a 3.35 mile hike ahead of us to reach our aid station. We ran and got there sweating buckets but we made it. Thankfully there were enough volunteers. Ann and Carl run a tight aid station and everything was in order.

So here's something that has never come up in a run I've volunteered for. One of the elite runners, who will remain unnamed, came through our aid station declaring she was runner 91. I was angling to take her picture and noticed that her number was pinned on backwards. I didn't think nothing of it until our radio guy, cell phones don't work reliably out there, told us that there were two "no.16s" and they were trying to figure out who was who. I remembered and cleared up the confusion. The lesson of the story and this is right up there with making sure you have your number pinned and visible to make the job of tracking you easier for volunteers and photographers, make sure your number is pinned the right way unless of course you are runner no. 11:)

What was new this year was that we had to enforce a cut-off time. Ann was the first to declare she didn't want anything to do with that duty. Carl was not too psyched about it either so the responsibility came down to another volunteer, Floyd. When he blew on it, it sounded like an old locomotive. We were around mile 13 on the course and our cut off time was 11:30. As 11:30 approached we argued as to whose watch we should go on, wanting to choose the slowest one. Inevitably 11:30 came and we had to cut-off two runners, only two but it was still a hard job. The first runner we cut off was Ken Michal, a member of the Endurables running group, a group I've gotten to know a little bit this past year. To ease the pain of a dnf I gave him Floyd's can of Spam as an award for being the first one to be cut off. I'm not sure why Floyd brought it but now Ken has his first running award. Minutes later I wanted to steal it back. We love that stuff in Hawaii. Ann thought it may be a good tradition for the future, well I don't know about that. It only works if the runner is as gracious as Ken.

Helen and I drove to the finish and gave Ken a ride. Two more friends arrived and we waited for Sam to finish. I spent the time catching up with people and asking them how their race went. La Sportiva Mountain Running Team took the top spots again. Leor Pantilat won the race and Caitlin Smith was first for the women, both set new course records. Those two are so fast and so were the racers right behind them. On the way down to the finish I had bought two 6-packs of beer for Samantha, to drink and share. By the time she finished there was exactly one beer left, haha. What I didn't drink it all, I shared it too! The race finishes in park complete with a lake. Some runners went in for a dip. Most of us just lounged in the picnic tables and the grass. The post-race food is one of the best. A large tree snapped in two while we were out there, far from the picnic area, which resulted in oohs and ahhs and some clapping.

Another good day on the trails and no mishaps on the trail like last year. Seeing those guys race has given me some extra inspiration going into next week's race.

Samantha, Helen and myself at the start.

Brian Wyatt heading out.

Lem Oandasan and Janet Thomson head up the trail. Big climb ahead.

Ken Michal, his SPAM award and Ann Trason.

Minutes later I wanted to steal it back. I lived in Hawaii for 10 years. We love that stuff! Spam Musubi's anyone? In WWII, fresh meat was scarce in Hawaii so people loaded up on the stuff which was brought over by the military. These days, supposedly, people from the state of Hawaii and the territories of Guam consume the most Spam. I believe it.

We ran into one of the locals on the hike back to the car. It was a long one. Evan this shot is for you, I know how much you love them. I'll take the snakes over the bears in your run.

Clare Abram and her 2nd place age group award with Jeff Barbier and Jon Kroll.

Rubbing elbows with women's winner and new course record holder Caitlin Smith. I'm hoping some of her speed will rub off on me. Always smiling, easy to talk to and very, very fast.

Sammy finishing. Is that a look of relief or joy, maybe both.

For the photoset, click here.


  1. Rick, great pics...great stories...especially about the numbers being pinned on upsidedown...good grace next weekend in SD

  2. What a cool race shirt ... who designed it?

    Looks like a great day. Kudos to you for volunteering so much lately.

  3. Just another FUN FILLED Weekend by Mr. Rick G :-) way to go !!

    Kick Ass this weekend Bro, remember to GO FAST and hard early - HAHA

    Will be following along online!

  4. Sounds fun. Wish I'd been there too!

    Good luck with your race. I'm sure you'll do great!


  5. Thanks so much for coming out there-- it always helps to see familiar faces at aid stations. Good luck this weekend!

  6. Hey, Rick is that Ann Trason as in THE ANN TRASON?

    Goodluck during your race!


  7. I designed the race logo that is used on the shirts - Rob Byrne chooses the colors. The design is adapted from traditional Ohlone basket motifs and depicts runners going over the three main peaks on the course. The motif is also rendered in big fat pixels (basket weaving can be thought of in pixels), a reference to the modern people running this land today.
    Thomas Hamel

  8. as always, nice story and pictures. good luck and more power at SD 100 this weekend.

  9. Great pics!! Exept the one with the snake.=)