DNS…In Running Protocol, it means “Did Not Start”! My running injury from my latest Adventure Run on my lower left quads which turned out later to be an injury on my left knee did not heal even if I rested for so many weeks. After my LSD trail run for more than 6 hours at the Wunderlich State Park in Redwood City, California 4 weeks before Race Day, it gave me an assessment that finishing a 100K ultra trail run with a total ascent of more than 10,000 feet will be an impossible feat to accomplish.
Despite such assessment on my part, I tried my best to remedy the situation by taking all the necessary treatment I could gather from the different running resources in the Internet, running books, magazines and personal journals of famous trail/marathon runners. I even went to the extent of soaking my legs regularly on warm water mixed with Epsom Salt; regular massages; and even taking Alaxan FR capsules. I am glad that my cross-training in the gym kept me busy from the lack of more prolonged time of running on the road. One week before Race Day, I made my decision to DNS the race.
Instead of joining the race, I thought of offering my presence on Race Day as one of the Volunteers of the Race to the Race Director, Tia Bodington. After a brief exchange of e-mails with the RD, I was accepted as a Volunteer at the Starting/Assembly Area and at the Aid Station #1 which happen to be at the same location.
The motivation to do a volunteer work for Miwok 100 was due to the following as stated at the event’s Website—Eight hours of volunteer work at Miwok fulfills the Western States 100 service requirement. Eight hours of volunteer work at the Miwok 100K also gets you an extra ticket in the following year’s entry lottery. Hopefully, my injury will heal soon so that I will prepare specifically for the next year’s edition of this race.
DNS…Did (A) Nice Spectating…by Volunteering!
As a Volunteer at the Starting Area/Aid Station #1 @ 7.1 Mile, I was able to witness every minute how the Race was managed by the Race Director.
I arrived at the Assembly Area at the same time with the arrival of the RD who was driving a U-Haul Truck at 3:45 AM last Saturday. Tia Bodington was alone. The beach of Marin Headlands was dark, cold and windy on the early morning and I was prepared for the weather. I immediately approached the RD and introduced myself. The two of us started to bring out the necessary things needed for the processing of the runners from the truck and I even shared my flashlight to her as she was trying to locate some traffic/reflectorized vests and other flashlights needed for the volunteers.
The U-Haul Truck was filled with containers filled with water, timing device, foods, and other stuffs needed for the race to include the “loot” for every finisher of the race which trail runners call “schwag”. I was smiling as I recall myself on the shoes of the RD whenever I start the races for the BDM and PAU Races.
After a few minutes, another runner/volunteer arrived with a casted/bandaged right wrist & hand. The guy, Charlie, was supposed to run the race also but he met an accident (slipped while running along rocky trail) on training and opted also as a volunteer for the race. The guy was given a reflectorized vest and a flashlight and he was asked by the RD to act as the Parking Attendant at the Authorized Parking Area for the Runners. In a few minutes, I was asked also by the RD to act as the Checkpoint at a point that is 200 yards from the Parking Area for the Runners. My job was to ask the drivers/passengers of each vehicle approaching the Assembly Area if they are runners or volunteers. If they are runners, I simply advised them to proceed to the “dirt” Parking Area. If they are volunteers or dropping their passengers for the race, I simply advised them to proceed to the paved Parking Area. Just imagine a Police/Military Personnel/Traffic Enforcer stopping your car/vehicle with a flashlight and the other hand signalling you to stop. Yes, that was my job as a volunteer for almost 2 hours!
As the lone personnel at the Checkpoint, I was able to see the faces of the runners! It is unfortunate that I was not able to glimpse on the faces of Anton Krupicka, Scott Jurek, and Geoff Roes! They opted to DNS, too!
At 5:30 AM, I was approached by Tia telling me that I was doing my job well and she informed me that my volunteer job was done. However, I asked her that I could still be of help in any of the Aid Stations or at the Finish Line as I wanted to see the Front Runners cross the Finish Line. She accepted my offer and I started to observe how the race would start.
The processing of runners was very simple. Each runner simply got his/her race bib from one of the volunteers and that’s it! Ten minutes before the scheduled start time at 5:40 AM, all the runners were led to the beach near the Rodeo Lagoon which is about 300 meters from the Assembly Area. There were no intricate START Arch/Tarpaulins; no sound system; no music; no lights; no invocation/prayer; and no singing of the National Anthem. The RD positioned herself on top of a little mound on the beach while the runners lined up before an invisible starting line listening to the final instructions from her. Tia’s final instructions were about RESPECT. If I can recall them right, she said something like—“Respect the trails”; “Respect the Volunteers & Marshals”; “Respect the other Runners”; “Respect the Race & the Distance”; “Respect your Goal”; and “Respect Yourself”. After a few seconds, the RD simply shouted “GO” and the runners started the race along the sands of Rodeo Lagoon.
After the race had started, Rick Gaston and I were able to talk while the rest of the volunteers and spectators went back to the Assembly Area. This is where all the volunteers (to include myself) helped in loading the “drop bags” of the runners to be transported to the Finish Line which is about 3 kilometers away. After this job, I was able to engage more conversation with Tia and had a chance to give her a copy of the frontRunner Magazine. It was a good chance for me to have a picture with her.
While waiting for the lead runners to pass at the Aid Station #1, I was introduced by Rick to Brett Rivers who is also an elite ultrarunner, got to talk to Mark Gilligan of UltraSignUp, and the rest of his ultrarunning friends whom I could not recall their names. Finally, I was able to back-up my e-mail messages to Matt for the possible inclusion of the BDM Races to UltraSignUp through a longer conversation and personal interaction. We had a longer discussion about the matter/issue when we had a chance to meet again at the Starbucks at Mill Valley.
At the Aid Station #1, Rick and I became instant volunteers for Mark Gilligan’s Live Update in his Website by posting each runner’s split time. We were requested by Mark to shout to him the Race Bib Number of each of the runner approaching our place. It was a good chance to stretch my vocal chords! After the last runner had passed our station, I found out from Matt that there were 345 starters out of the 416 accepted/registered runners.
At the Pantoll Aid Station (Mile #20 & 41)
Rick brought me to Pantoll Aid Station to observe and spectate to the runners passing. The top runners just passed the area when we were looking for a parking space. It was nice to observe the other fast runners on how they re-supply themselves with their hydration packs; how and what they eat at the Aid Station; and how lively the cheerers to the incoming runners.
Later, I positioned myself about 30 meters along the trail before runners would reach the Aid Station. The trail is called Old Mine Trail. As the runners would approach my position, I would shout encouraging words while clapping my hands. The words, “Looking Good”; “Good Job”; “You Can Make It” and other positive ones shouted to the approaching runners would boost the runners to jog at a faster pace. As a response, the runners would say, “Thank you for being here” with a smile on their faces!
This is where I was able to meet Geraline Harvey, a Filipina runner from Ontario, Canada who greeted me with the words “Kumusta kayo?” After a few seconds, Carmela Layson and her group approached me as I was cheering them! At last, Carmela and I met in person. Actually, if ever I decided to push through with this race, it was my strategy in this race to stick to her all the way to the finish line. Carmela had been a veteran of Miwok 100! If ever I would have a chance to run in this race in the future, my race strategy would remain the same, I’ll stick on her tail. Carmela had been an active contributor of my Project Donate-A-Shoe! (Congrats, Carmela & Geraline for a successful finish!)
Finish Line @ YMCA Point Bonita
From this point, it was time to go to the Finish Area and try to help the other volunteers. I was able to meet Jorge and Rich (with ages in their late 20s) who are also ultra runners planning to earn their entry through the lottery for next year’s edition of the race. There was another lady runner who was supposed to run but due to stress fracture on her legs, she opted also to volunteer. We helped in organizing the different “schwag” for the runners and preparing for the BBQ Party venue after the race for all the finishers. It was worth the fun and time to be working and volunteering with the rest of the other senior and younger ultra runners.
At 1:30 PM when the lead runner was a few miles away from the Finish Area, all the schwag were properly organized and packed. The job was done and the next job for me was to watch each of the lead runners cross the Finish Line. The plan was to wait for the arrival of Ian Sharman who was running the whole race as ELVIS before leaving San Francisco in order to catch up with the Pacquiao-Mosley Boxing Fight in Las Vegas!
While waiting for ELVIS to cross the finish line, I was able to talk to the Front Runners/Top Finishers of the Race. It was nice talking to these wonderful guys in ultra trail running which ended with a brief pose with them.
After about 10 hours of volunteer work at the 2011 Miwok 100K Ultra Trail Race, I really enjoyed and had fun for being a part of the race as one of the volunteers. As an spectator, I was able to interact with the top runners in ultra trail running in the United States which I could not have a chance to do such if I finished the race in 15-16 hours. For sure, they are already sleeping in their houses as I cross the Finish Line!
Before I left the Finish Line area, I talked and thanked Tia for being a part of the Volunteer Group for the event and told her about my early departure to catch a flight to watch the Pacquiao-Mosley Fight in Las Vegas. In return, she thanked me also for being a part of the Volunteer Group for the event . She assured me also that I will be coming back to run the 2012 Miwok 100!
The results of the 2011 Miwok 100 are published here.