This past weekend Keith and I volunteered at the Trail Animal Running Club 50 and 100 mile trail races down at the Hale Reservation in Westwood. This is the first ultra that we have volunteered for and had a blast helping out and seeing all the runners as they came thorough.
We drew the early shift (6-10am) on Saturday morning which meant that I had a 5am wake up. 15 minutes later Keith picked me up and we were on our way.
After wandering around the Hale reservation looking for the aid station we were supposed to be at for 25 minutes we finally found it: Grossman camp.
After being politely greeted by the aid station captains: Scott and Mike, the first of the 100 milers had just started to come through so we quickly jumped in to help. The aid station was 9.3 miles into the 25 mile loop. The 100 milers would traverse it 4 times while the 50 milers would do it twice.
The start on the beach
This early into the race, most of the runners were just looking to refill their bottles or hydration packs. Keith kept a pitcher full of water to keep the process going fast and I ensured there was every type of soda and endurance drink available.
Once the runners started to slow a little we started to get to know Mike and Scott better. Keith and I quickly learned that we "beginner" ultra runners compared to these guys, who were obvious veterans of multiple 100+ milers.
After hearing a few stories about altitude sickness during the Leadville Trail 100 and 140 miles covered during a 24 hour ultra, we decided it was time to take a quick break and head out on a 3.5 mile run. The goal was to get back within 35 minutes before the first of the 50 milers would come through.
The trails at Hale are pretty nice. Mixture of single and double track with some rolling hills. Typical NE trails where after running for 5 minutes you have no idea which direction you are even facing.
After following the course for 1.75 miles, we turned and attempted to re-trace our steps. Soon we came to a fork and went the wrong direction. A few minutes later we had runners coming at us and now we were confusing them. Luckily we soon hit the road, and found our way back (Just in time before the first runners arrived).
A typical view of the Hale Reservation Trails
The majority of the 50 milers looked pretty strong and happy to be out there. A few stragglers at the back of the pack looked like they might be in for a long day.
There were a couple of graduate students doing mental health research at our aid station. Runners that had opted in before the race would go through a series of questions with them. Sounded pretty interesting.
Around 9:45 the last of the runners had come through and it was estimated that it would be at least an hour before we saw any of the 100 milers on their second lap. So after cleaning up some, Keith and I took off at 10am and headed home and to get in another 12 more miles of trails.
All and all had a blast at the race and talking to all the other crazy ultra runners. This is the third TARC race I have been too and they put on some good and well organized events.
- Multisport Maniac