Monday, April 28, 2014

FlatRock 101K from an aid station assistants point of view

This could very well be a continuation of the previous post. Dana and I worked an aid station at the FlatRock 101K--touted as the toughest mile-for-mile course in Mid-America. I can attest to the difficulty of the course, and while I did really want to run this year, I saw the pain and heat exhaustion the runners faced, and was actually happy to be on the other side--helping Dana. We woke up before the sun came up and pulled our trailer to the trail head at Oak Ridge, and then sped back to the starting line just in time to say hi to a few friends and see the runners off. Then, we loaded up drop bags, food, and a good supply of water and headed to our post to set up shop. A ginormous box truck followed and dropped off tables and a cook stove, and my job, as assistant cook at Dana's Aid Station, was to fix pancakes and bacon. I cooked around 20 lbs of crispy bacon, and ate fully 20% of it myself.

49 runners had signed up, but only 37 showed up--it thundered and stormed an hour before race time, and the forecast for the day was pretty iffy. 37 runners get pretty spread out over 15.5 miles of rugged trail, and we had quite a bit of down time. Still, the faster runners were coming back through while the zombie-paced one trickled through. We never had time to catch a nap.

I did get a little antsy, and took a short run down an old abandoned road that dead-ended into the lake--or at least a finger of the lake. As many times as I've ran here, I had never been to this part.

Did I mention that Jake was with us? This was a new thing. Jake has camped with us, and enjoys running with a group of runners. But being at a race--guarding his home turf while runners barged through and took food from his table--well, he did growl a time or two. We had a talk and he decided all was cool. And he loved the swim breaks--we took several.

I tried to find the least muddy entry/exit points, but when a wet dog--clean or dirty--lays down in a gravel parking lot, he is dirty no matter how clean his swimming hole is.

I did not take a ton of pictures of the runners as when they were there, Dana and I were filling bottles and hydration packs, getting drop bags, and talking them into eating, and checking on how they felt. But for a TON of race pictures, Mile 90 Photography took hundreds of awesome pictures.

A quick plug for another awesome race coming up. Thanks to Eric for letting us promote our Oklahoma races while here.

By nightfall, most of the runners were on their last leg of the race--the return trip of their second 50K. And many of then had succumbed to the heat, to nausea and fatigue. of the 37 started, 15 dropped. We had figured to see our last runners by 2:00 or so. The cutoff was 2:00 am, and every runner still in the race made it by the cutoff. Dana made sure they all ate a little before going on. The next aid station was 6 miles away, and since most of the group by this point were moistly walking, it could have easily been 2 or more hours before they'd see more food. Dana had a huge pot of potato soup that really hit the spot--and probably was the very fuel needed for a finish. Despite not running, I had several helpings myself.

Dana had put a few decorations out on the course. She had planned on making it a Hawaiian themed course, but the fierce winds (25-35 MPH all day and all night) made the fake palm trees and tiki lights a bad idea. We did hang a few Japanese lanterns in the trees. I vetoes wearing a grass skirt and coconut bra. My boobs are too sensitive for scratchy coconut shells!!

I was so proud to see my friend Melissa Bruce tough out the 101K. She has ran more miles on this course than probably anyone in the race, having lived in nearby Elk City for years. Her race report is entertaining. Read it here.

Results of the 22 finishers can be viewed HERE.

Mr Eric "EPIC" Steele puts on a great race, and I hope this race is always on the calendar. Next year, I'll be one of the grouchy back-of-the-pack finishers here.

CLICK HERE for my FlatRock 101K race report. More grizzly pics and a ghost sighting!!

CLICK HERE for the Inaugural FlatRock 100K race report--where I battled hard and finished 3rd!!

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