Monday, April 20, 2009
Volunteering al Diablo....
Mt. Diablo Marathon/50 Mile Race
Oh my friends. I have been smitten with a glimpse of a truly handsome devil. He's imposing, strong and can be ruthless, but he is beautiful and delicate in parts as well. And this weekend? He was HOT (that would be the "Mmmm... delicious" as well as the "Where's the shade?" kinds of hot).
'Tis true! I had only seen this giant from a distance, gracing the profile of the East Bay Hills, viewed from vantage points all over the Bay Area. I don't think he even knew I existed. I mean, it's not like we'd ever hung out or anything. People had talked about how he could be really harsh if you didn't know him, so I didn't want this marathon (or 50 miles!) to be our first blind date, but let me tell you-- I have now gotten to hang out with him for a minute or so, and we are SO doing this again! (I left my number with one of the squirrels) Hopefully next time I'll get to know some more of his more hidden parts... er... trails. But I'll be sure protection is involved--at least 45 SPF, because that mountain is BLAZING.
All silliness aside, I really did fall in love with Mt. Diablo. I think seeing the moon setting over the hills started the day off right. I got to the Mitchell Canyon Trailhead to help with check-in at 6:00 am-- there were already runners ready to go!
Once the runners were checked in (where I met Mr. Running and Rambling in person-- thanks for saying hi, Donald!), they were herded up to the starting area and then, faster than I expected, they were off!
After the runners took off, it was a scramble to throw food and supplies into cars heading up to Juniper Aid Station, where I was going to be working with Miki and a couple of other volunteers. This was a fun aid station, because both groups came through twice, so there was lots of action and I got to see people several times. (The 50 milers came through a 3rd time, but I was working the T-shirt handout by then.)
It was on the drive up to Juniper that I realized why everyone had talked so much about Mt. Diablo. The road to Juniper climbs up the mountain and you are treated to views of the entire Bay Area on one side, and poppy-covered hills on the other. I wanted to get out and run right then!
I didn't take too many pics at Juniper because my camera battery flashed as "low" and I wanted it to last the whole day-- but then the battery was fine later on. I think my camera's health was affected by being dropped on asphalt at AR50. Whoops. Anyway, here are two shots-- one of the runners coming up the trail, into the aid station, and another of me with Miki and Marissa, my fellow aid station queens and ultrarunners as well.
After seeing the 50 milers come through a second time, as well as most of the marathoners, it was back down the hill to get ready for T-shirt duty. I like T-shirt duty-- you get to see people at the end of the race and hear how their race went. Some people were ecstatic and others were in a lot of pain. It was a tough, tough day.
I spent the next 6 hours (literally-- that's how spread out all the finishers are for this event!) handing out T-shirts, eating pizza and chatting with runners, volunteers and other PCTR groupies. Good times.
I have to include this last picture because I think this is one of the most radiant smiles I've seen on someone finishing a race-- can you believe this woman just finished a marathon on a ridiculously hard course?
After seeing Rick finish, I had to head home to beat the arrival of some house guests. All in all though, a great day-- and definitely a location I'm coming back to! Otherwise, how will Mt. Diablo and I progress in our obviously written-in-the-stars romance?