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.


Anderson Runner said...

I agree. It was great to be a volunteer at the Chicago Marathon and also to race direct a few races. Makes you much more appreciative and understanding.

Dr. Bill ;-) said...

It has been very interesting to have a Google Alert for Blogs on "Kansas Flint Hills!"
Yours came up today!
We have a 22 county Flint Hills Tourism Coalition promoting visits to the Kansas Flint Hills – this is the website:
Our web site is to promote the Kansas Flint Hills; and we were so happy to be in the 22 page color photo spread in National Geographic's April Issue on the Kansas Flint Hills, as a distinctive landscape.

We would appreciate a link from your site, to ours, if you are willing to do so. THANKS!
Best wishes!

Bill ;-)

Personal Blog:

Journey to a Centum said...

You're one busy guy Ben! Sounds like a couple of very fun weekends. Looks like your trail race is going to grow next year. You may need a trailer for your Element.


Shane"Crash"Jones said...

It's was a pretty fun couple of weeks. Sorry about only having one cigar! The beer was good though.

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Yeah...that was good beer. What a fun night of trail marking. We should consider doing something Thursday (Wyco) night.

Paul DeWitt said...

Hi Bad Ben - I just found your blog and enjoyed the photos from the races you helped with the last few weeks. Thanks for putting up that 95 mile aid station at Heartland; I would have liked to stay longer and had some beer with you!
- paul

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Yeah, but you had some stupid 100-mile race to win and set a record in. Priorities, priorities!

It was nice seeing the little bit of you that we saw in your nano-second aid station stop.

Happy trails,

WynnMan said...

I will second that notion. BadBen you put on a hell of show or should I say shows(S) plural. The Trail Nerds are second to none. I can also attest that your home brewed grog was probably top notch at Heartland.

Sarah said...

The Fall Fell trail run looks delightful! And that looks like my kind of aid station! : ) I agree, volunteering is a lot of fun and provides a great perspective.

"Sherpa" John Lacroix said...

That race looks like a hoot! The Fell one

Coach Tammy said...

nice pics! Looks like yummy beer :)

You'll appreciate my post today... it's not done yet, but I came over to grab your url so I could link you.

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