Monday, May 18, 2009

Hog's Hunt 2009

A couple years back, Mariela, the fearless leader of our running group asked for volunteers to help out with an aid station at Hogs Hunt, a local 50K/25K trail run at Huntsville State Park. I had run a few trail races at that point, but I'd never volunteered in any capacity & felt it was a good time to start. What an introduction. Mariela and I arrived at the park early that morning to a spectacular thunderstorm - thunder, lightning, and a torrential downpour. Enough to scare off a number of the crossover road runners who traditionally like to give this race a try. But, of course, not the idiot trail runners, who lined up and headed down the trail through the deluge. Mariela and I managed to get things set up in time once the weather broke, and it actually turned out to be a lovely day. Also, it was great fun. Ever since then, I've tried to come back to help out Mariela and HTREX, both at Hogs Hunt and RD Paul Stone's fall counterpart "little" Rocky Raccoon.

A month or two ago Mariela asked if I'd be interested in running the aid station because she would be off conquering the Jemez 50 Mile in & around beautiful Los Alamos, NM. I agreed without hesitation. I immediately contacted my buddy Chris to see if he was interested in co-captaining the aid station. Fortunately, I think he was even more geeked about it than I was. After a mad scramble late Friday to get everything together (tables, coolers, canopy, beer, cutting board, knives, beer, extra munchies, folding chairs, beer) it was off to bed for maybe 5 hours of sleep. Up at 3:00, organize and load up, pick up Chris, and hit the park shortly after 5:30.

My car was already pretty full, so it was nice to run into Jaime (and his big, empty van) at the Lodge. With three sets of hands at this point, set-up goes pretty fast. Lynnor stopped by and dropped off her terrific exchange student, Feli, and shortly thereafter Mary and Denise pull up. With all this help, by 7:00 we were fully stocked and ready to roll. The 2 lead runners came blazing through at about 7:45 (the race started 10-12 minutes late, I think), and then there was a 5-10 minute lull until another group came through (including eventual chick's 50K winner, Meredith Terranova). It's just amazing how fresh all these lead runners look after pushing hard for nearly 13 miles in the Burmese-jungle-heat. Traffic sporadic until maybe 8:15 when the pace of visitors really picked up. I knew from past experience that the runners tend to come in waves and once the fast 25K-ers started mixing in with the slower 50K-ers, we were filling cups and bottles and making PB&J quarters at top speed.

A little later, Chris and I grabbed 5 gallons of water and trekked out to a back-course, unmanned water table Paul had set up about a mile before our aid station. This was our first real taste of warm-day carnage & it didn't disappoint. At least half a dozen people stopped us en route nearly begging for water because "there's no water back there." You don't say. It was indeed fortunate then that Chris and I just happened to be carrying 5 gallons of water on our stroll. When we made it to the table (now with maybe 4.5 gallons of water), it was a little disspiriting to see how many folks had not even attempted to throw their used cups in the easily-accessible garbage bag next to the table. Okay, it was more than a little disspiriting. [Note of trail running etiquette: put your f-ing garbage in the f-ing garbage bag.]

Once back at the aid station, beer-drinking and pain-watching began in earnest, as many runners staggered in as if they'd just crossed the Mojave in July. Appallingly, many of these runners (mostly 25K-ers but some 50K-ers!) weren't carrying any water bottles at all. Hello! It's a week before Memorial Day. In Texas. Might be hot, ya know. Oh well, I'm happy to report that we were prepared for such stupidity, er, oversights and loaded up with lots of ice and extra Coke & Mountain Dew. Needless to say, ice was a popular commodity. As the flow of runners slowed down, many started hanging around the aid station a bit longer before they went out to tackle the final 2.86 miles. As much as I enjoyed providing aid for the "racers" who wasted little time at the aid station, the dawdlers (with whom I share a common bond) are often very entertaining folks. A few took a seat for a few minutes but only a couple dropped.

By 1:45, our job was done and we managed to break everything down and clean up in no time. Dumped the remains of our provisions back at the Lodge with Paul and headed home, exhausted but with a definite feeling of satisfaction. If anyone is considering volunteering at a race, I can't recommend it strongly enough. Not only do you gain a valuable perspective on how much work is involved in making these things happen, but it's also a blast. More pics of The Aid Station That Was Formerly Site 174 (But Is Now Site 142, or something like that) below.


  1. Thanks for volunteering! All you guys rocked!
    btw - Nice Blog!

  2. Thanks for volunteering - you guys ROCKED!
    btw - nice Blog!

  3. Just when the season is kicking off all over the West, it's winding down around here. Summer is just not the time to be racing in Texas. A big hats-off to all finishers this weekend and just one very small piece of advice... when it's 90 degrees and close to 100% humidity, please consider, however briefly, carrying a little water. Seriously though, great runners, great volunteers, and a great race director. Thanks for a really fun day out on the trails!

  4. Huge hats-off to all the finishers! Tough conditions but everyone was pushing hard. And just to very briefly reiterate the above, guys, carry some water out there. Paul Stone, the R.D., and all the volunteers were amazing. Great day on the trails!