Last weekend three storms hit the San Francisco Bay Area and unfortunately the Northface Endurance Challenge was right in the middle of it. Trails were a total mess and the day before the event a new course was unveiled. No trails past Muir Beach, all in the Headlands, and unlike the marathon and 50k runners, the 50-milers had a course that consisted of two loops which included Muir Beach. The hill that runners use to get to Muir Beach is notorious for being a major pain in the butt in wet conditions, going up or down. Lucky for me that was exactly where I got posted for the majority of my volunteer hours on Saturday.
Jorge Maravilla, playing in the dirt again
Fastfoodie, on pacing duty
Alarm went off at 7 AM on Saturday morning and the first thing I heard was the rain coming down, my first coherent thought was, "wow those 50-milers are getting drenched early". By 9:30 AM or so my buddy John and I were at Muir Beach, he was the aid station captain for the Muir Beach AS - second shift. The first shift was by Dan Brown and Strava. Those poor guys had to be there before sunrise, setting up the aid station before the leaders came through. They were doing an awesome job though. Got to meet up with Larissa Polischuk, who is also on the Strava team, and other folks from our Thursday morning run crew who were tasked to pre-run portions of the course making sure all the markings were up. Despite that I heard 3-4 of the leaders went off course, unfortunate with money on the line. John and Golden Gate Triathlon club took over around 10:30 and it was easy work since Strava had it all set up for us. I was helping jot down runners numbers in the beginning but then got sent out on the course to help direct runners at the intersections. Eventually I found myself at the top of the Muir Beach hill where I had the pleasure to see the downhill bound folks slowly make their way down while also witnessing the shaking of heads and tenuous uphill progress of the folks going up. The rain thankfully had stopped during the middle of the day so. There were a lot of muddy folks as you can imagine, some with mud in their front and backsides. There were however several who looked amazingly clean considering the mess they were running in.
Strava team in action at the Muir Beach AS
It wasn't until 4PM or so when we finally packed it in and headed for the start/finish. Just in time too as it had started to rain again. I felt for those who were finishing their day the way it started, wet and dark but I'm sure it only added to their sense of accomplishment at the finish. Because of the rain we didn't stick around too long, the field was muddy, the food tent dark and most of the runners were not sticking around either. The coziest, warmest looking place was the med tent, ack no! I know you can't catch anything there, all the same I don't want to see runners injured or beat up.
It was a great day to be out. When I volunteer, I'm usually content being on the sidelines but this was one race I actually wished I could have participated in. Watching everyone got me all pumped up, that 5:30AM start for the 50-milers would have been a major pain though, um yeah, actually never mind:) Maybe next year I'll take on the "Dirty Double" again - Quad Dipsea and the Northface 50-mile. That is the only way I've done it. I'd never give the Quad for NF50, it's either both or just the Quad. Too bad they couldn't be at least two weeks apart.
Unfortunately because of more precipitation that came down Saturday night the half-marathon and 10k events scheduled for Sunday were cancelled. A bummer for the runners but a good thing for the trails.
Took more photos but you should check out this link first. These are great images!
Here is the link to my set.