I worked the Heartland 100 Lapland aid station this past weekend. Twice in the past few years, Dana and I have manned this stop set at mile 16 and mile 84 on the out and back jaunt in the Flint Hills in Kansas. This year, however, Dana could not make the trip due to work, and I had recruited trusty volunteers Lynna Gilstrap, David West, and Johna Ellison to help me manage the madness.
Heartland RD Eldon Galano volunteers at Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd so we trade out volunteering at each other's race
It seemed like the entire week I was running behind in preparing for this assignment. Friday morning, I had nothing packed. Most of the basic aid station supplies are furnished by the race, but we ring the special stuff--bacon and mini pancakes, potato soup, and I had also brought taquitos, a pecan pie, and a cheesecake. I like our runners well-fed. Dana had filled my shopping list and there were only a few minor things for me to snag Friday morning until I discovered a bad leak in a water line in my camping trailer. DISASTER--since we really need our trailer fully functional next weekend at Pumpkin Holler. Dana found a dealer who could get right to work on the repair, and I had the hour task of dropping the trailer across town and packing up my tent-camping stuff. So instead of arriving at my weekend post at 5;00 or earlier, it was well after dark.
Even so, there was no rush of things to be done at this point, and after dropping my friend Stormy off at El Dorado at his hotel, I went to Wal Mart for some last reinforcements for the weekend ahead. From the race start in Cassoday, it was 12.5 miles due east of a well-maintained gravel road that just seemed to go on forever and ever--but I instead traveled east of El Dorado for 24 miles and then straight north on Road 31 to our lonely intersection--and this route seemed to be a little quicker.
I played with my new iPhone, looking for spooky settings where things dissolve into the deep black moonless backdrop of night.
Our intersection. Theoretically, I should have been able to have pizza delivered here. But I had no cell signal.
I somehow forgot my tentpoles, so I blew up my air mattress and camped inside the aid station tent--a pretty good solution.
Lynna drove up and was parked and car camping before I managed to get some sleep. David came a little later and car camped as well.
Our morning started with us setting up the food table, getting the water jugs situate and cooking 200 mini pancakes and 5 pounds of bacon. Most of the hotcakes and bacon were consumed. I did my share of tasting.
The arrow marks out home for the weekend. By 11:00--5 hours into the race---we began our downtime. I figured we'd see our first return runner around dark. I made another trip to Wal Mart for stuff to tie the tents down. The race had staked them to the hard rocky ground, but we were getting 40 mph gusts and it was only a matter of time until they took flight.
We decorated both tents with strands of LED lights, which made our aid station visible from space.
Our porta potty had a disco ball inside for lighting. We called this our porta-party.
Our tents never blew away but two other aid stations were as lucky. a strong north wind coupled with sideways sheets of rain sent the tents into orbit. It got into the upper 80s Saturday for a high, and down to the upper 30s Saturday night--maybe colder. Rain with high winds froze many a runner and the drop-out rate was high.
By 4:00 am, most of the clouds had moved on and clear skies let the temperature drop. Our last runner came through at 5;30-ish and race officials came by and picked up the aid station provisions and drop bags It was still over an hour from daylight so we crashed and caught an hour or so of sleep, and then packed up all the stuff I had brought.
I headed east thinking I'd come out in Eureka, where I'd get gas, coffee, and make my way home.