When you run an aid station, it’s sometimes a hard call to know whether to take pics to document everyone’s hard work, or to pitch in and help. I managed to get a few shots early on at our storied Lands End aid station, but mostly it was shlepping water jugs and trash, filling water bottles, serving food and snacks, and even providing a little first aid here and there. Injuries were all slight, and the few who needed it pretty much only needed to help themselves from the first-aid kit.
A few of the photos I got follow this narrative. Full race photos will be available at Mile 90 Photography
Our story at Lands End was one of being there to the best of our abilities for amazing athletes battling through the adversities of distance, toothy trails, and brutal weather. Last year, runners faced grinding heat; this year, hours-long drenching rain, though the morning and early afternoon were pleasant. We did what we could, always feeling a bit of a pang as we watched our runners leave the station for the cold, dark and wet.
Lands End started Friday afternoon as Jay Hawks, Mike “Smoky Hills Hawk” Miley and yours truly put up the tent “campus.” Mike ran the marathon next morning, btw, and Jay paced HAWK lap #3 in the hundred for finisher Dena Long.
Saturday 6 am found us trundling the extensive and perfectly planned supplies packed up and transported out to the Lands End parking lot by the RDs Ami “Misfit Hawk” Hyten, Jordan “Oops Hawk” Shrack and Cara Beth “Color Hawk” Combs and their hardy volunteers. From the parking lot, we carried everything down a rough trail about a tenth of a mile to our tents. Of note, Heather “Silver Hawk” Duris, was instrumental in keeping our first wagon-load of water from tipping over as we traversed “the teeth,” a rocky section of the trail leading from parking lot to station, and then from careening wildly down the “slippery slope” at trail’s end.
“Master Chef” Carrie “Joy Hawk” Stevens almost magically produced the aid-station buffet from the stacked up crates we brought down – just in time for the 6 am-start runners completing the first 4.5 miles of their long day (and night) (and morning). Eric Deeter and Justin “Chem Hawk” Douglas rounded out the Lands End “Dawn Patrol” crew. As runner-trackers, they kept account of who came through and when, as well as jumping in to help take care of runners as needed.
Speaking of tracking, our radio communications team, drawn from local radio communication enthusiast groups, also staffed Lands End in shifts, helping, along with Timer Guys, to make the HAWK one of the best events ever for tracking runners throughout the three races. Plenty of families, friends and volunteers wanted to know.
Our “High Nooner” crew relieved the “Dawn Patrol” from noon to 6 pm – Bryan “Cajun Hawk” West, Mary Ann “Squeaky Hawk” Frevert, and Diane “Ginger Hawk” Sudlow took up station operations without missing a beat. All three are experienced aid-station operators, deeply familiar with Lands End from running and volunteering.
“Sundowner” crew-member Dean Russell showed up at 6 pm as reinforcements for Mary Ann, who put on the runner-tracker hat, and yours truly. Our “Master Chef” Diane Sudlow stayed on an extra 90 minutes to help transition to hot-food service, always a trick in the woods. Karen “Hawk Who Walks” Henry delivered the Lands End All-Star Veggie Potato Chili from home where it was kept in cold storage since its concoction Friday, along with other requested supplies such as instant coffee and bungee cords to help secure our tent-sides. As the night approached, marathoners and 50-mile runners gradually left the course.
Children of the Night
By 12 am, the “Children of the Night” crew was in place to keep watch for and take care of the 20-something hundred milers still toughing out the now slick and slippery course through the cold curtains of rain that began falling hours before. Todd “B.A.R. Hawk” Chandler both tracked runners and helped Rachel “Ensiferum Hawk” and yours truly feed, water, and cheer on runners and pacers as they arrived from and departed to the chilly lonely darkness. Eric Deeter also returned to help out for several hours, before heading out about 2 a.m. to assist elsewhere on the course.
Last Chance Salooners
At 6 am, Todd and Rachel took off their “Children of the Night” name tags, and became the 6 a.m.-to-finish crew – the “Last-Chance Salooners.” Marathoner Mike “Smoky Hills Hawk” Miley returned to help Rachel, Todd and yours truly keep things going for the hundred-mile runners still on the course, now beginning to show a sign or two of weariness behind their smiles. Karen “Hawk Who Walks Henry” delivered home-made scrambled-egg burritos to fuel the Salooners. Well before the noon cut-off, our final runner and her pacer blew through, and we began the task of disassembling our tent city to leave Lands End in the pristine state in which we began.
As Mike, Todd, Rachel and I began taking it down, a Herculean task for three tired volunteers, the cavalry arrived to bail us out. Master Chef Carrie “Joy Hawk” Stevens, Justin "Chem Hawk" Douglas, both Dawn Patrol veterans; and marathon-finisher and veteran Golden Hawk Challenger Vanessa “Journey Hawk” West all returned to Lands End to help sort out and pack up and out the ton or so of gear and materials still on hand. RD Ami “Misfit Hawk” Hyten brought the rental truck to take it all away, and pitched in to help with the station breakdown – imho, the hardest task of all aid-station operations.
And though beautiful clear skies were in short supply for part of the night, they returned well in time for the happy conclusion, eventually involving brewskis, of the Land End aid station.
Congratulations to all our runners who started, finished, or simply survived and went home safe. You participated in something truly, deeply special.
To all our fabulous, selfless volunteers at Lands End, West Park Road and Start/Finish, RDs to water-shleppers, it can’t be said loudly or often enough:
See ya next year.