Monday, December 31, 2007

My Most Memorable Runs of 2007

These are my most memorable runs of 2007:

1. Starting the new year off right with the "Fat Ass" 50K in Wallace State Park on January 1, and watching Caleb Chatfield "smoke" the field and the course without breaking a sweat. I'm promising myself more than 3 hours of sleep for the next time I do this 50K, (tomorrow).

2. Finishing the Rocky Raccoon 100-mile trail run for the 5th time in a row. This one tested my mettle...I was sick and couldn't eat or drink anything for the last 22 miles.

3. Race-directing the Psycho Wyco Run Toto Run. It's inspirational, seeing many runners finishing their first 50K or their first tough trail run. Seeing Kyle and Caleb breaking all records and coming in first and second was awesome. Seeing Caleb with his proud 90-year old grandpa after the race was really cool. Also, seeing "Barefoot" Rick Roeber finish a 10.35-mile loop of this crazy course (on ice and at 15 degrees) just blew me away.

4. Camping-out in the middle of Kansas in unseasonably cold weather (12 degrees) and 6-inches of drifting snow (in April), with my son and Kyle Amos, to run in the Rockin' K Trail Run. We woke up with ice on the inside of our tent and on the outside of our sleeping bags. I opted for the trail marathon. Kyle did the 50-miler. Keep in mind, their are multiple water crossings, with some as deep as 40-inches. Kyle is definitely made of tougher stuff than me.

5. Camping out in Clinton State Park, and race-directing the Free State Trail Run. Seeing Kyle win the 100K, and then go back out to play "course sweep" for our last finisher was really cool. And the volunteer help we got from the Trail Nerds, their families, and Kansas Ultrarunners' Society was truly inspirational.

7. Running in my only paved race for the year, the Corporate Challenge 5K, and garnering 6 points for my company. Age has it's advantages!

6. Running at the Berryman Trail Runs for the 6th straight year. And seeing my friend Pat Perry shepherd 22 newbie marathoners on their first marathon...a hilly and hot trail marathon at that!

7. Attending Western States 100 training camp with my friend Pat, and having a really good time. It's great to have nothing on your agenda but "running in the mountains" for three straight days.

8. Crewing for, and Pacing Pat at the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run. This was probably the high point of my year. Audio version here.

9. Running for 15 miles, and then doing trail maintenance with the Trail Nerds on more than a few 100-plus heat index days. These folks really show their love for the trails!

10. Race-directing the Psycho Psummer 50K, on a very hot and humid day in July. Again, our volunteers made the race a safe and fun event for all. No "Chicago" boondoggles here! Audio Version.

11. Running in the Mount Hood PCT 50-mile trail run for the 2nd year in a row, and finally meeting my blog-buddy Olga Varlamova. I had a faster time this year, despite falling and breaking my nose on mile 45. I love the Northwest, and I love this race! Audio Version.

12. Race-directing and running in the Psycho Night Trail Run. This race is just a really fun time.

13. Running in the really tough Cascade Crest Classic 100-mile trail run, in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. This year, I got to see some old buddies, run with Pat for a while, not puke this time, fall off a cliff, meet a bear face to face, descend 500-feet down a rope, run 2.3-miles through a mountain, and bow-out at mile 60 for hypothermia and "severe mental incompetence." Yep. A pretty good time. Audio Version.

14. Running in the annual Sandrat Trail race in Lawrence. This race is always a good transition into the Fall Season.

15. Setting-up and running the aid station at the Heartland 100-miler, with my buddy Raul Flores. This is the 2nd year in a row that we've done this, and it is one of the most fun things I've ever done to support fellow runners. Also, setting up the course with Shane Jones for the Fall Fell Trail Race. Watching him try to smoke a cigar while running with signs in his hands was a hoot. Report here.

16. Running in the Rock Creek 50K at Lake Perry, Kansas. This was hands-down the most perfect 50K course and race that I've ever ran. And seeing David Wakefield finally catch a break and finish first, was a bonus. Also, watching two fast women that I know do well, was fantastic:
Deanna Stoppler was 3rd overall in the 50K, and Kelley Johnson was 1st overall in the 25K!

17. The busy week that nearly killed me: Setting-up the Pilgrim Pacer run on a Friday night, then facilitating the race the next day...and then the day after that, race-directing the Vet's Day run 2-hours prior to flying to Texas for business; then flying back the next Friday and setting up the course and aid station for Nathaniel's 24-hour Run. High points: Seeing the incredible generosity of runners at all three races.

18. Running the "Dude, where's the trail" 50K with Kyle and Pat, and part of it with Trish. This run is really low-key and a lot of fun. Lou's crazy sense of humor makes for interesting signage, while on the course. Photos.

19. Running in Steve Riley's Cross Country Challenge, with ice-cold water crossings in December. What a crazy good time.

20. Race-directing and running in the Alternate Chili Run and (once again) seeing how utterly generous runners are for a good cause.

21. Having the honor of receiving an award from the Kansas Ultrarunners' Society. It's KUS' Ultrarunner Member of the Year award.

22. And the best for last: All of the many, many fun training runs with the Trail Nerds, and all of the great converstations that we have while running. I just love it! On these runs, a lot of ideas come out. All of our races were spawned in this way. For example, on one stormy run with Gary Henry, we came up with the idea for our Pod Trod race.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Perfect Run

Wow. What a run today. The perfect run.

Yesterday, four of us ran at WyCo on the Run Toto Run course. I ran only one 10.35-mile (hilly) loop. The snow was deep and and the surface underneath was soft. The company and conversation were good. I wanted to run longer, but I wanted to save some of myself for Sunday.

Sunday, for some reason, was the "perfect" run. I was the only one to show up at the Clinton Lake North Shore trails. The snow was soft powder on top. The temperature was 20 degrees (F).

The Blue Trail had had some traffic and resultant tracks...but the White Trail only had one person's tracks, so I was busting new snow half the time. I had forgotten my water bottle belt, so I decided to do only 15 miles, instead of 17+. Three hours without water is about as far as I'll push it, and I'll be doing a 50K in two days, anyway.

While I was running, I saw the normal deer here and there, but was also rewarded with the sight of a pair of Bald Eagles flying together. The sun was out, burning-away the ice fog, and the contrast between the white of the snow, the sun, blue sky, and mist (here and there) was unbelievably beautiful.

For some reason, I felt almost euphoric on this run, right from the start. Every step was effortless. My heart rate stayed fairly low for the amount of effort it takes to run on a trail with snow like that...but it didn't even rise more than five beats/min. on the up-hills! I swear that it was almost like I was gliding along on cloud. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. Maybe I was just overcome by the sheer beauty of it all. I didn't want for this run to be over with.

I wish that all runs were like this. I hope you experience the same.

Peace and Happy Trails,
Bad Ben

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

100-Mile Trail Run Training

Training is going well for my sixth (in a row) Rocky Raccoon 100-mile trail run. The list of "who's in" is filling up, and it's been updated and color-coded to show who's run 5 or 10 of these crazy things. I'm number 168 on the list, by the way. Here's the list of veterans, who have finished multiple times at this race.

What's really exciting about this year's Rocky Raccoon, is that at least 5 Trail Nerds will be running in the race. Kyle, Gabe, Gary, John, and me. Also, there will be some Nerds like Rick and Mike pacing. And other good Missouri and Kansas Runners will be there: Tony Clark (who's riding down with me), Dann Fisher (who I've run with before at Rocky), and Bill Niktakis (a SLUG from St Louis). It should be a fun trip, with Gary and Tony in the car with me. I drove alone, last year.

Between now and then, I have a lot of training happening, and several of us will run 50K training runs on the weekends, including the annual Fat Ass Run at Wallace State Park, near Cameron, Missouri, on New Year's Day. I'm going to run "long" this Saturday and Sunday, too, with a break on Monday. I like my highest mileage week to be one month out from the 100-miler.

Last year, this race 'bout killed me. I started the race with a bad cold, and ended up having a tough time from mile 78 to 100. You can read about it here. My time was still under 25 hours, though. (My fastest time at this race is 22-hours and 4 minutes). My strategy is always to "run to survive," and if I'm feeling okay on that particular day, I'll do well.

Why do I do a "Hundred" so early in the year? The main reason: it keeps my training on-track through the Winter months.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

1187 Hunterwasser

Yes, I'm not only a Trail Nerd, but I'm also a "Blade" Nerd. For Christmas, I got the Blade Runner "Final Cut" DVD. My wife also had a wonderful photo of my dog, my grandson and me framed. It was a professional photo that we had taken last year. It holds special significance, because my dog was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Since my grandson was having Christmas morning with his other family members, and my wife was working, I scheduled a Trail Nerd run at 8 a.m. One Newbie Nerd (Janelle) and an out-of-towner-ultrarunner (Rob Newcomer) showed up to run 9 or 10 miles in the crunchy snow. It was a good way to start getting into the Christmas spirit.

I went home, took a hot bath, and took my time cleaning up the house while listening to Blues music, and getting ready for the day. My two grown kids came over at about noon, and started cooking Christmas dinner for us...what a treat! And these kids know how to cook. It was an awesome meal.

My grandson was dropped off at our house at about 5 p.m. We opened presents and of course, he was spoiled rotten by all of us. What a great Christmas! I hope all of you had a good holiday, too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Partying with the Blues Brothers

My company "holiday party" this year was fabulous. Not only did we have great food, and our normal "dressy-up" good times, but Jim Belushi was present with his Blues band, and he put on a fantastic 90-minute show for us. Practically everybody was on the dance floor, and he brought a lot of "our wimmens" up on stage with him, and even danced-on (and almost collapsed) a table! These photos were taken by many folks, and I don't have any idea who to credit them to. What a company I work for!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

More Fun Photos

Here are some more fun photos from our nice little training run on Saturday. Seventeen Trail Nerds started running at 7:20 a.m. Some runners did 10 miles, some 20, and a few did 50K, in the 13-degree F weather, on the "Psycho WyCo" course. Fun stuff, indeed.
Photos by Gary Henry.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Little Rant

The following story just pisses me off. See my comments below.

Yellowstone Gets New Snowmobiling LimitBy BEN NEARY – Nov 20, 2007
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Snowmobile travel in Yellowstone National Park will be restricted to 540 trips per day starting in the winter of 2008-09, the National Park Service decided Tuesday.
Conservationists had wanted a ban on snowmobiling in the park, saying it causes noise and air pollution. In a recent letter, 86 members of Congress — none from states surrounding Yellowstone — asked the National Park Service to phase out snowmobiles due to pollution concerns.
Snowmobiling enthusiasts and some local business owners had wanted the daily limit increased, saying the activity brought income to local economies.
"This decision is fully supported by the science, and I believe it's the best professional judgment of the managers at Yellowstone as well as this region as a way to go forward," said the park service's regional director, Mike Snyder.
Snowmobiling limits this season will remain the same as last year, when 720 commercially guided snowmobiles were allowed in the park per day.
Yellowstone had as many as 1,400 snowmobiles daily during the 1990s, when louder, more polluting two-stroke engines were the norm.
Bill Wade of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees said the decision ignored science and was not good for the park, the park system and the American people.
"It circumvents the conservation emphasis that has guided management of the national parks since the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916," Wade said.
Franz Camenzind, executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, said he could not comment on what options may be available to snowmobile opponents in fighting the decision.
"Ultimately, we would like to see individual snowmobiles phased out of the park," Camenzind said.

This is the sort of the lazy, bullshit side of 'Merican "recreation" that makes Americans look like obese, SUV-loving, flatulent fat jerks, intent on ruining every square inch of anything wild or free. Why do Americans think it's their God-given right to DRIVE their fat asses to every place on earth? Why can't they,, hike, snowshoe, ski, or use some other natural mode to get to the beautiful (and supposedly protected) places on this earth?

On the lighter side of things. The Trail Nerds had a great Saturday run in the woods. Some even ran 50-kilometers through the snow and cold temperatures in WyCo Lake Park. What a good time. Photos below.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Busy, Nerdy November

November was a busy month for me. The month actually mentally started for me the week before, on October 25th, when I ran in Willie Lambert's first annual "Rock Creek 50K" at Lake Perry, Kansas.

I had only gotten 3 hours of sleep the night prior to the race, due to some fun family issues. While I was driving the 70-minute drive to the race location, I formulated a plan for my race execution. I would go out like gangbusters for at least the first 25-kilometers, and keep going like that until my "sleep deprivation situation" set-in, and crushed me like a soda-pop can under foot.

Well, the plan worked-out fairly well. I actually cruised and was well-ahead of quite a few faster runners at the 25K point, and kept going like that until about mile 18 or so. Then the postponed sleepiness started to creep in. By mile 25, there was no escape from my "trail torpor," and I slowed significantly. At about that point, Pat Perry cruised by me, along with a couple of other runners. I mustered my fatigued brain back to life, and decided to stay ahead of the couple of guys that kept coming into view behind me, from time to time. I held them off, and finished with a time of just over six hours.

David Wakefield ended up winning the 50K, and Kyle Amos was third male, overall. Deanna Stoppler from St Louis was first female and 2nd, overall. She's a dynamite runner, and did well at my Free State race last April. Trail Nerd, Sarah Sinning was 3rd.

The Trail Nerds did very well in the 25K. Rick and Caleb led the men, while Kelley Johnson took first place female AND first place overall honors! She is one fast Mizuno rep.

I have honestly never run on a more perfect 50K course, in my opinion. There were hills and a few long climbs (for a Midwest run), and just the right ratio of technical trail and fast sections to whet any Trail Nerd's appetite. The aid station help and placement was superb. The finish line food, entertainment, and finisher's schwag was just awesome. This race is a must-do for next year!
On to the next event:
On Saturday, November 10th, Raul & Nancy Flores and I put on a first-time race in Shawnee Mission Park called "Pilgrim Pacer." It had a half-marathon, 10K, and 5K. We did well for a first year event. We collected over 480 lbs of food and $880 for Harvesters Food Bank. This will provide over 2500 meals for the holiday season.

Jason Crosby, our graphic designing Trail Nerd (once again) came up with a fabulous design that we used for the event shirts. I think it had a lot to do with the large turnout. We also had Raul doing chip timing, BJ the DJ doing announcements and music, and gave away cider, hot chocolate, and cobbler at the end of the race.

Setting up for our 3 remote aid stations on Friday night and early Saturday morning was a real trip. I now know that the little wooden bridges on the Streamway Trail will hold the weight of a Honda Element. I also know that said Honda Element can drive up and down the 35% grade of an earthen dam. I honestly don't know what crackpot driver would do that, though...or would I?

The race pretty much went off without a hitch. The weather was perfect, and the Autumn colors were gorgeous. You couldn't ask for a better race day.

The day after Pilgrim Pacer (on Veteran's Day), November 11th, the Trail Nerds hosted a little 4-mile race in Wyandotte County Lake Park. I played race director, and my grandson and dog helped-out. Sixty runners showed up to honor our veterans and to raise money for the Nathan Jones Recovery Fund.

Kyle Amos co-race directed and led the trail marking effort, leading up to the race. Ten Trail Nerds participated in the initial marking on the Thursday prior to the race, (of which I was one). That was a good time...running with three-foot long bamboo sign poles at hyper-velocity on rocky and hilly trails. Once again, no one got injured or put an eye-out.

My Little Helpers.

As the race director's dog, Fester pulls double-duty, designing trail race courses and driving. "You call that driving? Bad dog!"

About Nathan Jones: He is a third grader from Gardner, KS. He had extensive surgery recently after his optometrist discovered a large white mass that was later determined to be a brain tumor. Nathan is presently experiencing paralysis on the right side of his body and his prognosis remains unknown. Nathan continues to make improvements but it could be a very long and expensive process during his stay in the hospital. His father is taking an unpaid leave from his job to be with Nathan but still needs to pay his monthly insurance premiums. Proceeds from this race went toward off-setting the cost of the insurance premiums.TRAIL RUNNERS ARE GENEROUS! We raised $609 dollars for Nathan's cause.

More information and photos are here.

Immediately after the Vet's Day Race, I spent a week in Texas training for my job. The moment I got back, I went to the storage unit to get supplies to set up Nathaniel's Run, a 24, 12, and 6-Hour Solo & Relay run. A few Nerds participated, also.

It was a Trail / Cross Country Run that began on Friday, November 16th at 6pm. The course was a 1.3-mile loop course in Shawnee Mission Park on grassy, rooty, easy to moderate difficulty with some hills in mainly open, slightly wooded area.

Proceeds from Nathaniel's Run Ultramarathon benefitted the Flint Hills Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. (FHTRC). The center is dedicated to improving the quality of life for anyone with a physical, mental or emotional disability through therapeutic riding and hippotherapy. Hippotherapy requires licensed and trained physical, occupational or speech therapists using the horse to influence the client’s movement, and combines therapeutic riding with formal therapy exercises that help clients improve confidence, strength, flexibility and balance.
This race was a joy to work, and I even ran a few laps and got to know some folks a lot better, because of it.

You can see more here.

On Sunday, November 25th, a few Trail Nerds participated in Lou Joline's and the Blue Springs Runners' "Dude, Where's the Trail?" run. This run is a "fun run," and not a race. It's suggested by Lou that you carry a cell phone, a compass and the maps, and go in a group. You leave with your team in wave start, and have to follow 4 pages of instructions and maps for the not-so-well-marked course. In this fun endeavor, there's a lot of bushwhacking involved (with no trail). Last year, my little group put in an additional 4 or 5 miles from a wrong turn. We did better, this year.

One big Elk.

Our team this year consisted of Kyle Amos, Patrick Perry, Trish Williams (for 18 miles of it), and me. Rick Mayo, Gabe Bevan, and several other Nerds were also in attendance. Lou had marked the course somewhat better than in past years, so we only lost our bearings a few times. The weather was almost perfect, and there was no mud on the course.

We had a really decent and enjoyable run, and Kyle got to know Pat a lot better. I got to test a new race food strategy, and see how my 100-mile training was progressing.

Note to self: Don't let Kyle Amos lead me for most of ANY 50K run. I'm not making excuses, but I had run the day before, so I wasn't completely fresh. But Kyle is a top-3 finisher in almost every event he does up to 100-miles, and he's also 18 years younger than me. I was really "feeling it" those last 6 miles or so. But it was still a great experience.
All in all, November was a busy, but rewarding time for me. It couldn't have been any more fun.

Come out and join us for a trail training run, sometime. The Trail Nerds have up to eight scheduled runs per week!

Happy trails,

Bad Ben
My photos of the "Dude, Where's the Trail" run are here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

KUS Award & Other News

I haven't posted to Blog Land for a while...I've been very busy.

I recently had the honor of receiving a very nice award from KUS, the Kansas Ultrarunners' Society. It's KUS' Ultrarunner Member of the Year award. It's a traveling award, and here it is.

Phil and Stacy Sheridan (of KUS) posted this about the award:

Ever play the 20 questions game?? See how fast you can figure out who the member of the year is?? If you were at the meeting you already know the answer... here goes.

1. Is this person female? No
2. Does this person live in Kansas? Yes
3. Is this person retired? No
4. Does this person have a dog? Yes, (and the dog designs single-track trails)
5. Is this person single? No
6. Does this person have children? Yes (and a grandson)
7. Does this person wear glasses? Yes (sometimes)
8. Does this person still have hair on his head? Yes
9. Does this person drive an SUV to haul gear to races? Yes - (a Honda Element)
10. Was this person born in Kansas? No
11. Has this person been featured in a magazine article about running and races? Yes
12. Has this person finished a 100 mile race? Yes (many)
13. Has this person paced another runner in a 100 mile race? Yes
14. Does this person enjoy running on trails? Yes
15. Has this person formed a running club? Yes
16. Is this person a race director? Yes
17. Does this person have a wacky sense of humor? You bet!
18. Has this person ever driven his SUV around with running shoes hanging on the front? Yes

19. Has this person ever buried a whiner in a shallow grave in the woods? No (We hope not)

20. Does this person brew his own beer with such names as: Sherpa Porter, Noggin Splitter, and Bitch Slap Black Ale? Yes!
...Anyway, this was quite an honor and quite unexpected.

In other news:

My son recently was promoted to manager of his own Starbucks Store. It opened this past Monday near one of the busiest intersections in the Metro area. (It's also a drive-through). In addition to setting up the new store and ordering regular shipments of stuff, etcetera, he had to interview, hire, and train 6 shift supervisors and 20 baristas. I'm proud of him, of course. Here he is during his first day of opening madness:

He was nervous for about the first two hours, until he realized that his awesome crew was handling everything just fine...validating his training methodology.

Pretty cool!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Trail and Ultra Running From "The Other Side"

I've had a really busy couple of weekends. What else is new?

I'll start with this past weekend:
I went to work on Saturday morning for a couple of hours for an "all hands on deck" meeting with "my guys." Then I volunteered for "The Pumpkin Patch" to raise money for a local school; a charity event that my son was in charge of. My job: I got to play Barista for the Starbucks booth, and not charge anyone a thing. During the event, the Kansas City Marathon was streaming by on the adjacent street. It made for a festive, if not familiar atmosphere for a runner like me. I helped my son break down the booth and hauled it away in my car.

Then I got all of my race stuff together to put on our Fall Fell 7-Mile Trail Run, on Sunday morning. I drove home, and had enough time to ride around the neighborhood with my grandson on my bike and pedal-trailer rig.

At 5 p.m. I met Shane Jones at the race location to run the course and mark it with signs on bamboo poles and orange engineer's tape. Shane is a character. I've never known a guy that could keep a cigar lit while running on a rocky trail with his hands full, carrying a load of signs on poles.

About our event:
This was the first-ever (official) off-pavement event at Kill Creek Park. It was a low-key FUN trail race, like many of our smaller events. The Kill Creek Trail system is fairly technical, and has roots, rocks and two stream crossings on the course. It's a beautiful park. Course Map

We run in this park all of the time on training runs. It's always a "wonderfully good time" on these trails. We were excited when we finally got permission to put on an event in the Park.

The weather was great on race day, the trail conditions were perfect, and everything went-off without a hitch. We raised $214 for ERTA for the park's trail maintenance, despite our low $8 entry fee and just 36 entrants. Many entrants gave more than $8, and we kept expenses low. We gave away hydration belts and a pair of Vasque trailrunning shoes. We even had coffee and Krispey Kreme donuts for the runners.

I love these low-key, small events. I can fit all of the race gear into the back of my Element, and still have room for my bike. About my bike. I had a little accident. I've got a safety tip...if you're riding a bike to take down trail markings and signs, don't carry 30 signs tucked-under your left arm while cradling a cellphone with your right shoulder. Multi-tasking is bad news on a bike, and I've got the wounds and goose-eggs to prove it! My old martial arts instructor would be proud of my landing, though. I didn't even shatter my new helmet.

I give the Pre-race "Talk"

Stuart Johnson being chased by Gabe Bevan and another runner.

Many thanks to the volunteers, and to Shane Jones for helping me mark the course the night before.

By every measure, our little race was a success. And we introduced quite a few "trail newbies" to the wonders of off-pavement racing, and everyone went home with a great story to tell.

After the race, I drove home, mowed the lawn and did yard work, and then settled-in to watch some NFL while I tallied and posted the race results.

RESULTS, including "1st Knitter" and "1st Guy with a Cool Name"

Here are
Dick Ross' photos

Shane Jones

Fall Fell 7-Mile Trail Run
10/21/2007 (Sun)
Shelter #1, Kill Creek Park
Olathe, KS
Race web site

Some comments from participants:

What a great park and a great run. Even though it wasn't my best run ever, I had tons of fun. And I'm quite proud to be 1st Knitter (thanks, Ben). It doesn't get any better than this. Running in the woods, through creeks, over rocks and roots, under low handing branches, between trees, up the dry creek bed and then back again. Zippety doo dah!
- Cheri Sutton

Thanks to everyone who put on this race. It was a great event. The course was excellent, challenging, and well-marked. The water (meaning, the 30-foot wide gushing stream through which we passed not once but twice) was highly refreshing. The post-race donuts sealed the deal.
Thanks again
J. Erik Hartel





Now for my other weekend, (one week ago).

Raul Flores and I were going to drive down to the Heartland 50 and 100-mile trail run, and set-up our Mile 95 "Mirage" aid station, once again. We both had our hands full on Saturday morning, so we didn't leave town until about noon. He was supposed to time a race, but it got cancelled due to "severe weather and lightning." There was also a lot of flooding going on in town due to 5 or 6 inches of rain.

Last year, we set up the aid station in a place that had previously had an un-staffed aid station. It was a big hit. That year, we had also run in the 50-mile race, prior to setting up our station. We probably over-did it, energy-wise, and were really tired the next day for the 3-hour drive back to town.

This year, we had a different itenerary. We decided to drive around on the course and take a few photos of participants during the 50 and 100-mile race instead, and then set up the station. This was a much better plan.

The weather in this part of Kansas' Flint Hills was much better (and drier) than the weather we had left at home. We drove straight to a major aid station, just in time to see fellow Trail Nerd, Cody Jones run by on his first 100-mile attempt, with his brother Shane pacing him.
Young Trail Nerd, Cody Jones.

We snapped a few shots on the course, and then headed to the start/finish line. We checked-in with the race directors, and hung around to cheer-on some of the 50-mile finishers coming in.
A supportive husband giving his wife a Feet Fixin'

Right before sundown, we drove to our aid station location and began to set up. Shortly after setting-up, we had our first suprise visitor - Paul DeWitt on his way to a course 100-mile record of 14-hours, 28-minutes. He grabbed a squirt of water in his water bottle, and was gone. The only photos I got of him were some rapidly receding shots of his hind-end. It would be a full 3-hour wait until the next runner ran through: course veteran Mark Henderson (of Texas).
Paul DeWitt flies through our station.

To pass the time, we had some DVDs to watch. Raul hadn't yet seen "Run Lola Run" or "Sin City," so those were my video offerings. He had brought the Nicholas Cage flick "Next," and the astronaut movie, "The Right Stuff." Between the videos, our music, and the Crazy Ultrarunners, we were set for entertainment for the long night and following morning. We also made a serious dent in my keg of homebrewed "Harvest IPA," and once again had hot chicken noodle soup for us (and the runners).
Raul, at our video station/computer.
We can take care of whatever "ales" you.

The runners appreciated the food, the attention, and the unexpected shelter that was brightly-lit with Christmas lights. It really did look like a "Mirage" to the runners, as they crested a hill over a mile away.
Front view of aid staion.

A New Zealand 100-mile participant enjoys a couple of my brews. "Best beer in the States," he said.

Some of the high-points of my night was watching severe lightning storms to the north (on the horizon), and seeing a "real" night sky with many of the stars of the Milky Way nakedly visible.

If you ever get the chance, try to see a race or two from "the other side," by volunteering. You can't believe how much fun it can be.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Eric Steele drops by.

Paul Schoenlaub, volunteering after a tough Summer of racing, (finishing his Mountain Slam of four 100-mile races).

Raul and I toast to a job well done, with some "breakfast beer!"

All of my photos are HERE.
Heartland race information is HERE.