Sunday, August 23, 2009

A behind the scenes take on Racing

The wonderful Hobblecreek Half Marathon was yesterday. Unfortunately for me 13 days out of the boot is not enough to run 13 miles, so I volunteered, spectated, and cheered for friends. My family has helped to run this race for the last 4 years (my extended family has made this race happen for the last 15 years), but I've always been an athlete in the race, so haven't seen all of the action. After going through it all again this year, I can confirm that I really have no desire to be a race director. They have so much on their plate! There are many aspects of the race they have to let out of their control to other people and sometimes people don't come through. There were many people who did come through though. Orem High School x-country athletes worked 2 of the large aid stations and did a great job. The handful of other volunteers working at the finish line made the race happen. There were people moving runners through the chute, managing the back up timing, my own daughter handed out the flowers to all the female finishers. There were brave souls at the T-shirt table, my husbands Grandparents and Aunt and Uncle prepared and served all of the post race food, and then we all spent 2-3 hours packing and cleaning up after the race was over.
I really encourage everyone to volunteer for a race. It really leaves you with an appreciation for the race directors who most often make $1-$2/hour if anything at all for all the time and work they put in after everything is paid for . It also reminds me that this is supposed to be fun, I need to come prepared and calm so that it can be.

I worked packet pickup for 6 hours on friday. It's so fun seeing people's excitement about the upcoming race, being able to answer questions and calm new runners fears and concerns. Of course I had my share of angry people that I couldn't help because they weren't following the protocol given in the emails and race website. Everyone please remember to bring your photo ID and don't expect to pick up others packets without a copy of their ID (if your race allows that). People really have and do try to pick up a strangers race number to use for themselves on big races like this that sell out. Sad, I know, but it happens.

So on to the night before the race, the bus company called to let us know that they will not be sending 3 of the busses we ordered. So we would now be given 17, not the 21 we paid for and ordered 5 months ago.
Well guess why the race got started 30 minutes late?
Because there were 3 bus loads of people waiting at the pickup for the buses having to return from the top of the canyon. I know it sucks to be waiting up there forever, we were going crazy trying to rush things and get those last people up.

Anyway, so we're ready to start the race and guess who isn't a the top? The race photographers. So the RD's notice I have a fancy camera (Heidi's) with me so toss me and my bike into the clothing trailer where I got to take pictures of the leaders for the first few miles until we flew down the canyon a few miles at like 40mph trying to gain enough lead to get me and the bike out and ready to ride down. It was fun riding down, a quiet canyon, observing the scenery, stopping to take pics of the leaders here and there. Then I got to see my friends pass all looking good about mile 7. I had to ride up the course some to find the last friend, and knew I didn't have much time to get to my friend Heidi before she finished, so I hauled my butt down the course cheering others on, to find Heidi at 12.My friends Becky (who has 3 month old) with husband Vince, the elusive Heidi, 17 min PR Jamie, and myself, flower in my hair courtesy of my favorite 5 year old.

Afterward I was glad to hear there weren't any mobs or riots on the volunteers at the shirt table. I know runners and their race shirts, it's not something you mess with! Unfortunately the printing company decided not to keep their contract finish dates and all of the size M and L shirts are still in California somewhere. Oh man, you should have seen the fear on the race directors faces trying to figure out what we were going to tell the racers, Luckily I think most everyone dealt with the "blow" fairly well. They will get their shirts either at the store next week or mailed to their house
(a big added expense for the RD's).

Oh and I'm sorry for my friends who didn't expect the trail part of the course, I feel bad, lesson to be learned though: always look at the course map online.

Anyway, I had a good time, saw some excellent running....but
I have 'watched' my last race! Cool


jamieschip said...

I love hearing about the race with a behind-the-scenes perspective. It really does make you appreciate the whole process a lot more. Great job helping, but let's make sure you're never a spectator again! We need you back with us, so get that foot healed up! Thanks again for being our cheerleader!

jamieschip said...
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Nurse Heidi said...

I learned after being the program director at scout camp for a season that I am not fond of being in charge of stuff, and that I always have a lot of patience for people that ARE in charge of stuff if things aren't going well. Weird stuff always happens at the end, and the mark of a good race director is one that can still smile when they don't have a t-shirt to hand you! I loved how much community feel there was to this race, and I had a lot of fun. Kudos to the Harpers and everyone else who jumped in to make it happen!

Jill said...

Hi Leslie...
An excellent article of the race, thanks for sharing!

I love your pink blog; it's similar in color to my own:
How funny!
I will add you to my list of watched blogs... I ran't wait to read more. You're an amazing athlete!