Many on the Genny–RD Perspective

28 Jun

I could write a small novel about the work that went into this race, but no one wants to read that.  While we’ve been RD-ing for 5 years, this race was the biggest race we’ve ever taken on…by about 26 miles.  No loops meant way more marking than ever before, ultra meant much bigger aid stations than ever before, and the school year ending exactly at the same time as race week didn’t help either.  To say there was stress going into this race is an understatement.

 

There was blood, sweat and tears (literally) put into this race.  For years.  We have been dreaming and scheming to try to make the most beautiful, most sensible, most challenging and most scenic course that we could make.  Trying to find ways to include as much of the beautiful and varied trails as we could, from the incredible single track of trail 20, to the wide grassy trails of 11 and 13, to the shale-filled climbs and descents of 15 and 13, to the ridgelines and overlooks of trail 1, to the gorgeous waterfalls of the FLT.  We had spent countless hours in the park, scouting it all out, debating where to put aid stations, thinking about what we would want to see as runners, meeting to get permission from all of the groups (the State Park, the police, the Army Corps of Engineers, the FLTC).  And when that much time and effort has gone into something, there’s obviously a lot of nerves that things won’t work out the way you have envisioned.  We had big hopes and dreams for this race.

 

Wednesday through Friday of race week are a blur to me.  We spent so many hours on the trails, purchasing all the food, packing everything up, marking course, and yes, even arguing, that I almost didn’t have time to be nervous.  Each night, we’d fall into bed and I’d sleep soundly until my cursed alarm.  Friday night we didn’t even get back to the finish line and our “home base” for the night until midnight.  After a brief 2 hour-ish nap, we were up and at ’em at 3. It was go time and there was no turning back.  I was worried people would get lost, worried animals would have gotten into our aid station supplies overnight, worried we had forgotten something, worried the shuttles would not show up…anything that might go wrong had me worried.

 

But at 6 AM, as Eric yelled go and runners took off, I felt a lot of the stress lift as I reasoned with my worried brain–people were out…they had maps…the course runs between the road and the river, so if anyone gets lost, it won’t be for long (haha)…most people carry their own stuff anyway…there are plenty of bathrooms along the way for the first 20 miles, so worst case scenario people could fill water there until we could get to a store and deliver bottles (if someone shot up our water jugs or stole them or some other crazy thing that my mind was trying to make me panic about) or food (if the animals had indeed managed to find a way into our stuff).

 

Race day is mostly a blur, too. As soon as runners had looped around the first 2 miles, I checked in with aid station 2, (Lisa had Aid 1 under control, I knew), found that food was ok, knew we were fine for at least the first half of the course for food and water, and headed around to finish marking the course–we had run out of time the night before.  I quickly ran/hiked trail 9, realized I should add the extra half mile and go check that the turn to the FLT was still marked and no one had touched anything, it was (of course it was), then backtracked to the car.  I spent a little time at the road crossing, hanging with my dad and brothers.  Seeing people running, smiling, high fiving me….I relaxed even more.  This was it.  The dream was happening.

 

By the time I had checked in with all the aid stations and made my way back around to the finish line, it was late…people had already finished…I still had a couple of errands to run to drop off additional supplies (water) for the aid stations.  But luckily we had the most incredible group of aid station-ers ever assembled.  Truly I never had to worry (or at least I shouldn’t have worried haha)–our cell reception on the first half of the course was spotty, but I knew my aid station captains and crew would handle any problems effectively.  The second half of the course required aid stations to haul supplies down horrible, mud-filled trails.  I got there, though, and they were so happy and full of energy and ready to go.  Some of them were out there for 9 hours on race day…others had set some things up the night before.  Not one of them looked annoyed or regretful of the job they had volunteered to do. They were amazing and absolutely instrumental to having a successful race.

 

I was so tired by dinnertime-ish.  I knew I should go back out to the aid stations to help out.  But I texted Jonathan (the only aid station still open) and he said it was all good there.  So I started to try cleaning up the finish line area (and even sat down for a minute or two) instead.

 

As I was cleaning things up, I looked around and advice we’d gotten at our wedding echoed in my head.  “The day is going to be crazy and busy and you won’t remember a lot of it.  So stop for a second.  Look around and take it all in.  Know that all these people are here because of you, to support you, to be with you.”  And I lost it.  I was crying and had to walk away to compose myself.  After that, every finisher…every smiling, cheering, happiness-filled finisher…had me choked up.  I could not believe this many people were here, loving the trails, loving the park, spending the day outside in the woods…because of us.  My heart was overflowing with gratitude and pride and happiness.

 

The rest of the afternoon and evening, I heard so many lovely compliments.  “I’d never seen that in the park and can’t wait to come back to explore.” “I’m not from here and I’ve never seen such a friendly group of people.  I can’t wait to bring friends back.”  “Your aid stations were the absolute best ever.”  “I had so much fun today.”  “This is one of my favorite races ever.” They went on and on.  Everywhere I looked, there were smiles and friends hanging out in the sunshine, eating pizza (so. much. pizza.) and drinking delicious home brew (thanks, Joe!).

 

When the last couple finishers made it across the line, I was so happy.  Until I realized how much work we still had to do.  We should’ve just planned to stay there, as the drive home that night was pretty sketchy…exhaustion was finally kicking in.  At 10, as we were getting ready to leave to go home, we remembered the stupid water drop coolers.  Josh and I drove over to grab them and the hike down was one of the most surreal.  I was so tired, stumbling around the trails to find the water coolers and drag them back up to the car.  When we finally made it home, I didn’t even say anything to Josh or Eric…I literally left everything in the car, climbed the stairs, put on a clean t-shirt and shorts and climbed into bed, completely unconcerned about my dirtiness…the sheets needed to be washed anyway.

 

There are not enough words to express to you all, the runners, their families and the volunteers, how thankful we are to have your support.  It’s still pretty surreal to think that this weekend happened.  Everyone all day kept thanking us, but the reality is that we owe you guys the thanks.  Without each and every one of you, this would just be Eric and I, sitting around a printed out map of Letchworth dreaming up a stupid race idea.  Without you guys signing on, trusting us to get it right, this wouldn’t have happened.  But somehow every time we scheme up something new, people sign on and get behind us, and that is the best gift anyone could ever give us.  So the thanks goes to all of  you.  You rock.  We love you.  We are humbled and so incredibly proud of everyone’s achievements.  And we can’t wait to see you all next year!

 

 

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3 Responses to “Many on the Genny–RD Perspective”

  1. nomeatbarefeet June 28, 2017 at 9:16 pm #

    This sounds…epic—both the race and your experience. You and Eric are two incredible people, and I am so happy that this all came together for you. We need to get back and see you two! Take moment; breath; do something that doesn’t require forethought…or much thought; and enjoy some time together.

    • shmeruns June 28, 2017 at 11:47 pm #

      Thanks! Hope you guys are doing well and the baby is keeping you busy! Come visit any time–and we keep talking about Vermont and never make it out there…but soon I hope!

      • nomeatbarefeet June 29, 2017 at 12:04 am #

        It is crazy how big she is now. I think she’s going to be a trail runner because she loves to be out in the woods and she loves to run. You are always welcome to stay with us if you make the trip up. Lots to explore up here!

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