Winter is nature's way of saying, 'Up yours.'
~ Robert Byrne ~
A view from a Psycho aid station
Yesterday I had the pleasure to work the main aid station at the PsychoWyco Run Toto Run trail run put on by the Trail Nerds. We arrived at and began unloading Ben’s newly decorated truck and set up the aid station and chili pots. People began showing up for the start of the 20 miler and 50K. The course is tough in good conditions but today was anything but that with cold temperatures and close to ten inches of slippery, powdery snow. I personally have only run one loop of this trail four different times and these people were getting ready to attempt two or three loops before the day is over.
At the horn sounded, music played and they are off to the challenges that lie ahead of them. Soon after, the 10 mile participants begin to assemble and prepare for their horn and adventure. Today I worked with Scott, Wendy, Kristy and Austin and we would do whatever we could to help these runners through a very tough day along with many others at four other aid stations. We did our best to keep them nourished with pretzels, M&M’s, PBJ wraps and bowls of steaming chili and hydrated with water and Heed and later in the day Coke, Sprite and Ginger Ale. The fluids were freezing in the cups if they sat too long so we could only fill a dozen at a time. It took an hour and forty minutes for the first runner to complete a loop which is flying compared to me but a slower pace for the front runners; this confirmed that it was going to be a rough long day for many. As the runners came through some grabbed a quick snack and we refilled there water and others would grab drop bags and change shirts and make equipment adjustments. You can see the expressions of some who had high hopes of PR’s and finishing strong who now just want to survive and finish before the cut off times. We were pretty lucky to be set up close to the start/finish with the DJ keeping everyone pumped and moving and seeing some of the people who stood at our aid station and questioned whether they should go again or quit. I heard many refer to the course today as being like running in deep sand and one who later posted that it was like running in mashed potatoes.
With a 50K in the back of my mind as a future challenge I watched the runners carefully as they came through. A loop course is difficult when you are struggling so badly because you come back to where it is easiest to quit when you are possibly at your lowest point and have to make the decision to leave this “safe place” and go out again. I witnessed this battle time and again and gained more respect for these people every time. Some for heading back to the trail and others for understanding that today is not the day and they had to listen to their body and not the ego. They have encouraged me to keep this goal in the back of my mind and confirmed that it is possible but it will take everything I have and a lot of support from others along the way.
With a group this size you see many different types of people but what I saw most on this day was a willingness to support and encourage others and I am glad I was there to see and take part in this event. As the final runners made there way off the course and with the aid station packed back in the truck almost eleven hours later I made my way back to my Jeep and peeled a couple of layers off, changed out of my boots and headed for home. It was a very long, cold day but it was well worth it and I am proud to call myself a Trail Nerd.