A few months ago I signed up to volunteer at the Finlayson Arm 25k/50k. I first signed up to help with the pre sweep of the 25k route. The start time was 5:30am and because I am an early bird I thought it would be the perfect position for me to help with. I was then asked in July by the Race Director, Myke if I would hold the liquor license for the event. One of the requirements to obtain the license was to be part of a non profit organization and I sit on the board for the Frontrunners Athletic Club. Before I could apply for the license I had to take an online course of Serving It Right. It gave me the opportunity to learn something new and be able to help in a different way.
Yesterday was race and volunteer day! I was awake at 3:45am even though my alarm was set for 4:00am. I had some coffee and got myself ready to leave at 5:00am. I was riding my bike to Goldstream Park which is about a 15-20 minute ride from my house. The morning was already 14 degrees and so quiet. Everyone was going to have a great day to be outside.
When I arrived at the group camp site I could see a few lights on in the finish line area and I found Myke and David chatting. They were going over what David and I needed to be looking for while on the pre sweep. We were each given a roll of pink flagging tape and away we went. It was neat running the trails in the dark and I was happy not to spot any eyes looking back at me. I am not someone who worries about encountering wildlife while running but I find that when I see the glow of an animals eyes shining from the light of my headlamp it freaks me out a bit. I like the motto “What I don’t know won’t hurt me.” when I am running in the dark.
As we ran along we made sure that the people who marked the course the night before had put enough pink flagging along the course. We also added some extra flagging in places where the path would veer in two directions just so the runners were certain where to go as they moved quickly along the trails. We were about 45 minutes into our run when I decided it was light enough that I could run without my headlamp.
As we made our way down from the Trestle, to go through the tunnel that runs under the highway, we wondered briefly if there would be water running through it. We figured there wouldn’t be due to the lack of rain we have had and that was the case. It was good news for us and the runners running that morning because dry feet for a run is always nice. As we walked through the tunnel and looked up at Mt. Finlayson we both admired the light from the sunrise reflecting on the mountain and how beautiful it was.
We each grabbed a gel and continued up Finlayson Arm Road to get to the base of Mt. Finlayson. The runners were going up and over it and so were we. Mid way up I could see the glow of the sunrise on the mountain. I got excited and said to David that I would have to stop for a picture at the top. Well, I didn’t even get to the top and I was already taking pictures. I had a huge smile on my face and at that moment whatever the day held would be all good because seeing the beautiful sunrise was worth it all.
Once at the top we took a few moments just to take in the view and catch our breath. We were headed down the backside of Mt. Finlayson to the road would continue on to the gate at Caleb Pike. We then back tracked to the back side of Mt. Finlayson again. As we reached the marker that told the runners to go towards Bear Mountain and the finish; David figured that some of the runners from the 50k race would soon be coming by. He was right. We waited about five minutes and about six of them went by only a few minutes apart from one another. I took pictures of the runners but they were moving so fast that they turned out blurry.
As we returned to the trail from Bear Mountain back to Mt. Finlayson we saw Shane. He was the first 25k racer making his way up. He was followed by another guy not too far behind him. It was nice to be able to see some of the runners as we ran part of the course. It isn’t something you get to see when you are running the race yourself. Well, unless you are the first person or the one right after.
I got to run new to me trails when doing the pre sweep and that was exciting for me. I now know some different places that I can run to and different routes that I can take to get to various areas. I love that about running and the trails can take me in a big loop or I have the option of an out and back.
Once back at the group campsite David worked with some of the guys to get the timing figured out for the racers. I helped some of the other volunteers get the food area prepped and ready. I then got the beer area ready and I would be serving two kinds of beer from Driftwood Brewery. They were one of the sponsors for the race. Next I helped out the Patagonia reps stuff bags with a really nice souvenir beer glass that each of the racers would get at the finish. It was a great opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with friends I haven’t seen for awhile and talk with like minded people.
Once the racers started arriving I went to my post to start pouring beer. I got to congratulate the runners and also hear what they thought of the course and the event. Overall everyone said it was tough but they loved it. Warren came around 2:00pm so I could take a break and go home to grab a shower. It felt good to get cleaned up from my morning run. I came back feeling even more ready to continue serving until the last runner came through. The day was amazing from the start until the finish.
Congrats to all runners who took part. You should be proud of what you accomplished and if you don’t feel great about your race find a way to learn from it if that is possible. Next race is a new race and a new day.
I would also like to say a huge congrats to Myke for organizing a wonderful event. I will be back next year to volunteer and perhaps I will even run in the 25k race. Thank you as well to all the volunteers who helped make the race a success.
What has been your favorite part of volunteering? If you have been in a race that didn’t go as you had planned what did you take away from it?