Sunday, September 9, 2012
Superior Sawtooth 2012
So after Ice Age this year, I basically walked away from most things running. I was frustrated, upset, and depressed. I had a hard time being around runners, especially ones I didn't know well. But at the same time, I realized I had taken a lot from the trail running community. I have sucked up a lot of resources and had not given a lot back in return. So I reached out to the Superior Race Director and said I am game for running a big overnight aid station. 4 years ago when I finished the Superior 100, I rolled into the Crosby Manitou aid station (mile 62), and was catered to by Maria and Doug Barton. It was like an oasis. And now, 4 years later, I was getting to be the oasis at Crosby for all of the 100 mile (and 50) runners. But selfishly, I was also looking for something to get me inspired and reverse the 2 year slump I have been in. So fast forward to last Friday, September 7th. I had support from the Lapham Peak Trail Runners Angela, Brad, Paul and a local Twin Cities runner Andrew S. Serious experience and knowledge helping out. It is a lot to ask people to give up an entire weekend, stay up all night, and really have nothing to show for it. But that is what this sport is all about. This aid station is not only far into the race at mile 62, it is kind of remote. It is way off the beatin' path, far from cell service, and precedes one of the toughest 10 mile sections of the course. The really cool part of working these is, you get to talk to the families and/or crew (sometimes both) of the leaders. The father of the eventual winner actually made the campfire at our station, and offered to help on numerous tasks. But the best part is to see people you have known, trained with, run with, crashed and burned with, fought with, cried with, and been yelled at, come through this section in a variety of conditions. Adam Schwartz-Lowe was so focused on his mission, he never heard me cheering him on. I told some of the other crews that Adam knows how to chew up other runners all night long. He did, and came in second with and awesome PR (22 something I think?) I also had the honor to take a runner from "I am dropping" to "Okay, I am heading back out onto the course". It took almost a half hour, giving him a dry shirt, Andrew giving him fresh batteries and a knee strap, some hot food and coffee, but he got up and went. How awesome is that? It felt great because so many people have done that for me. Still not sure who it was and if he finished. I hope to find him so I can tell him that..... get this... he inspired me. But the best part of the weekend started when my buddy Bill P., who has crewed for me three times and seen me at my absolute worst, came to me and said I needed to go pace Todd Rowe on Saturday. I would have said no, but Todd was one of the first guys I trained with out at Afton years ago. This was his first 100. It would mean missing most of the post race party and social hour, but I figured my energy could be better spent. So after packing up the aid station, taking a 1 hour "coma" nap, Andy and I went to find Todd. I was so punchy by then, I had this brilliant idea of taking the cow bell from my aid station and wearing it around my neck. I left the Sawbill aid station and ran backward to find him. So all of this runners heard this cowbell in the distance, and they thought they were at the aid station.... ooops. But I told them "got you fired up.... didn't it? They agreed. What I found out when I finally reached Todd was... he didn't need me. He was rock solid. He was power hiking faster than most people I have seen at that stage of the race. He was picking off 50 milers! He had grouped up with another runner, Jeremy, and there was no question they would make it. When we arrived at the aid station, I took the opportunity to taunt the sweepers (Horns and Maas), telling them there was no chance they would catch us. What I learned in those last 2 sections was not that these 2 needed some help, but there were others out there that needed help. Our train of 3 eventually turned into a train of 8 runners with Todd seriously pushing the pace. The gang behind us said they liked hearing the conversation and stories, so I continued with the boring stories and yapping I am so good at telling. (I talk a lot). We even found a new addition to the MN trail running group, Megan from Burnsville. I could tell this was a serious life event for her, and it was awesome being a part of it. Coming down the final stretch on the dirt road to the finish almost brought me to tears. For me, it brought me back to my first ultra finish ever (Suprior 50k many years ago) and my first 100 mile finish. I ran ahead with that annoying cowbell to get the finish area fired up for these runners. Not long after Todd finished, Misty Schmidt came across for her long awaited Superior finish. She overcame some serious pain as well as threats of timing out, but she brought the mojo home. It was awesome to see. What is next for me? Not sure. I could see working this same aid station for years to come. But I also have some other desires. Special thanks to John and Cheri Storkamp for an incredible race. Thanks to Angela, Andrew, Brad, and Paul for all of the aid station support. And thank you to all of the runners who brought their best.