Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hanging out at Heartland

It's been a busy month. Two weeks ago, I ran FlatRock 50K, last weekend I made it 58 miles at Arkansas Traveller, next weekend, it's set up, RD duties, and tear down of the 3rd annual Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd. This weekend was not a weekend off as Dana and I ran an aid station at the Heartland 100. And being the predictable blogger I am, I have a report to spin. We worked the Lapland aid station which was at mile 16, and again at mile 84 for the 100 milers, and mile 16 and 34 for the 50 milers. My view of the race was all from this intersection of H and 576 Roads. I saw no runners in action anywhere during the race other than a 1/4 mile to the south, and a half mile to the east--other than the fact that you could see LEDs to the north and east for ~5 miles during the night. My picture collection in the post below is what I took before runners started coming through, and after we had things all packed up and ready to go. For my purposes of patting backs, I have borrowed a few pics from Melissa Bruce, and Russell Bennett.

But first the drama before the trip. We were packing our camper Friday morning when I noticed one of the tires was flat. And, I also figured out that although the camping trailer has a spare, it does not have a jack. So, I buzzed by QT and bought a can of tire sealant for 5 bucks and change which hardly inflated it. So another QT trip and 8 bucks and change for the BIG can brought the tire to 50%--maybe. Packed and ready to roll, we towed it to Discount Tire and got in line for a flat repair. Discount Tire is right next door to a new Panda Express, and we hadn't ate a plate of lemon pepper chicken, orange chicken, curry chicken, fried rice, and a token 3 stalks of green beans later, our flat was fixed and our invoice was $00.00. Thank you, Discount Tire.

We made the 228 mile trip to Cassoday and were narrowly in time for a quick grab or roast beef, potato casserole, corn, and rolls prepared by some local church ladies. Great home cooking for sure. RD Tony Clark had a few errands to tend to, and we agreed to meet at the start/finish so he could lead us out to where our aid station was gonna be so we could set up camp. Dana and I sat in the truck and waited for 30 minutes or so, read email and Facebook while we had a signal. When Tony got back, I got behind his SUV to follow, and discovered that I had NO BRAKES! I could mash on the brake pedal, and heard a hissing sound, and had maybe 2% of the normal braking power by mashing down super hard. Looking under the hood and truck like a complete novice, I saw no brake fluid leaking from the brake lines or master cylinder. What to do? What to do? Things like this often happen at the most difficult times. We HAD to get to our aid station location, and being away from home, after hours on a Friday night, there was no chance of getting anything done until maybe Saturday. So, with great caution, we followed Tony 15 miles down hilly gravel roads to our aid station. We went slow, and used the gears to slow down, and only braked when we were rolling to a stop. We set up camp, unhitched, leveled, and settled in for the night. While this was not a conventional camping spot, it was still cool. The stars were amazing. It was quiet, other than a gentle breeze, and the remnants of an electrical storm lit up the eastern night sky.

Tony and crew were back promptly at 7:00 am to set up a heavy duty carport-like tent made with steel piping, bolts and nuts, and a heavy tarp cover and back wall. Aid supplies dropped off, tables in place--we were set. The race started at 6:00 am, and we expected to see the speedy runners by 8:30. A caravan of cars were right behind Tony when he drove up. This was a crew access aid station, and we had company for most of the morning. A few of the crew members waiting for the runners pitched in and helped Dana (which was greatly appreciated), and I manned the clip board and checked off runners. One near disaster--a moderate wind/breeze kicked up around 9:00 am, and the heavy duty carport/tent became a large box kite. Russell and I were hanging on and it nearly lifted us off the ground. Had we not held on, it would have lifted off and flown to Oklahoma. We walked it back around 40 feet to a fence and telephone pole and lashed it down. We also untied the back wall, taking away the "lift" force. The tent did no good for the morning runners, but I had a plan for the night.

We saw the last runner around 10:30, and then I had the task of trying to get my brakes fixed. I had to drive around 10 miles to even get a cell phone signal, and used a slow moving Google to find a Ford dealership. I also called the dealer I bought the truck from. I thought it was still was under the original factory warranty, plus I had bought an extended warranty--something I rarely do. My dealership recommended a Ford place in nearby El Dorado, which had a disconnected phone number. Google listed another place which was also non-existent. I Googled another place in Augusta which had a service department that was open until 1:00. All of these towns were on the way to Wichita on narrow 2-lane highways. I was doing ok being careful, and gearing down to stop. So far so good. The ford place that closed at 1:00 should have mentioned that they close the garage doors before 12:30, and will not even acknowledge that they have potential customers knocking on the window 30 minutes before their posted closing time. Next was Wichita dealers, and I picked the biggest one judging by their multiple web listings, and it was also the closest. They were nice, and recognized my dilemma, but were booked solid, and said it was doubtful that they could even look at it. They recommended another place much further west through Wichita, which meant driving through town on a sometimes expressway, sometimes service road route. My slow cautious stopping annoyed some zippy obnoxious Wichita drivers, and one zoomed around me and cut right in front of me as I approached a red light. I do not know how I managed to get it stopped without bumping her. It was stupid to try to drive without brakes, I know. But paying a tow truck to tow it from place to place did not sound good either. I finally made it to Hambelton Ford with Siri trying to send me down the wrong way on a one way service road, but I got there. A service tech by the name of Scott was awesome. He tried to get it in the quick lane because they do brake work there. (I doubted they would do anything other than easy brake pad jobs.) He then told me he was gonna make an exception and pencil me in to the list for the main service dept. I sat down in the lounge area and enjoyed a couple of free hot dogs, a bag of chips, and a $2:00 Coke, and watched Texas whip OU. Scott got back with me pretty quick, and told me that with my VIN, he could verify that my extended warranty was good and in place, and it was the power boosted that had went out. This part was not in stock anywhere in Wichita, and would have to be shipped from Kansas City and would not be here until Tuesday, or Monday if he could pull some strings. He also jumped through hoops to get me a rental car, and assured me that it would be covered. So far, I am very happy with their service.

I stopped at Lowe's on the way back and bought a 3 lb hammer, and 8 12" nails. Driving these nails through a hole in the bottom of the steel tubing, and a couple of others in the ground about 4 feet out anchored the frame and gave me a way to secure the top. As hard as the ground was, I doubted they would be able to even get these nails out, but it turns out, someone had a big nail bar and pried them out with ease. Even with a bit of wind during the night, the tent never moved. I bragged that I had built a tornado shelter.

I predicted that we would start seeing runners around 7:30, but I was about an hour off. A 100 miler made it back--84 miles--around 8:30 pm. The 50 mile runners started their race at 6:00 pm, and we had runners coming in from both directions for a while. It was never super busy, but was steady for most of the night. It got colder, and a lot of runners came in out shelter and sat for a while, covering up with blankets. We did not have a heater, but got by alright. Getting comfy in a chair with a blankie is often the death of a 100 milers race. There were quite a few runners who did not "beware of the chair," and ended up dropping.

The last runner came by around 6:30, and Tony and crew showed up right on their heels to tear down the aid station. Dana and I picked up some of our outside stuff, and climbed into the camper and slept until about 11:00. Four hours sleep, and a shower made me feel like a new man!! Tony arranged for one of his crew to come back and pull our trailer back to a safe location in Cassoday, and we'll leave it there until I come back to get my truck. I guess this is as good of a scenario as I could hope for. A hotshot out and back to Wichita is in my near future.

Now, the race results. TATUR Racing timed this event, and the results are already posted here.

100 milers Richard Stigall duked it out with Kenn Moon, winning by a mere 6 minutes 17:55 to 18:01. Amy Ewing took the ladies 100 mile crown with 18:19,and Candi Paulin taking 2nd with 21:55.

Adam Beecher ran a 7:59:59 to win the 50 mile race just a blink under 8 hours!! Chris Perry taking 2nd with a 8:48. Lauren Lie was third overall and first female running a 10:25, while Krystle Dalke was 2nd with 12:25.

Kathy Hoover ran her 2nd 100 miler in as many weeks, finishing in 27:38 after roughing out the Arkansas Traveller last week.

She is running Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd next week, and if she finishes, she will be the only runner in Oklahoma to run three 100 milers in three weeks.

Arnold Begay got back on the winning track with a good finish here. Like me, he bailed at Traveller last week, but stepped up and took care of business this week.

Russell did the crew-dude thing this year, following and helping Kathy, and posting updates on hers and Arnold's progress.

My Kansas friends all did well.
Candi, as I mentioned earlier, ran her first 100 like she has been doing them for years. She ran smart, and seeing her at mile 16 and 84, she looked like she was out for a leisurely Saturday morning 20 miler.

Justin Chockley was at Prairie Spirit last mach during the blizzard. Since then, it seemed he never lost his focus and hunger for a finish. He seemed to have his head in the game at all times. Of course, I saw him at mile 16 and 84, but he was upbeat and did great for his first finish.

Adam Monaghan stayed the course and finished his 19th 100 miler. That's more than most runners can even dream about doing, and who knows--he may end up doing 40 more.

Here's another first time 100 miler--Jason Dinkel. Jason was hurting when he came through our aid station at mile 84. Dana did some blister work on his feet, and Vaselined them up. I know that each step had to be painful, and that short 16.5 miles left seemed like 50. But he never stopped and has his first 100 mile buckle to show for it. Hi is with Melissa Bruce, who should get some MVP votes for all she did. She posted Facebook updates and pictures (of which I borrowed a few) throughout the day and night, paced Jason Dinkel from Matfield Green to the out and back, and then back. She then picked up Adam Monaghan at Lapland and ran the final 16.5 with him and got in nearly 32 miles. She is ripe for a 100 mile race. She has all that it takes to finish one.

Finally, it was good to see my friend Larry Kelley get a 100 mile finish. Larry was hurting, but was determined to get to the finish line. He had a great support crew, but I new he was bearing down when he only took a couple of drinks of beer at out station.

Seeing all my friends, I wished I was running. But it is enjoyable to be on the other side of the aid station table. Tony Clark puts on a very well organised race, and it's a great one to add to your list.

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