Saturday, February 02, 2008

ARR Marathon

I didn't run a marathon today, but I used the down time to volunteer at the Arizona Road Racers' Marathon / Half-Marathon this morning. We had 60 people run the marathon and 170 or so half-marathon. Even though we don't come close to competing with the AZ R&R Marathon in early January or even the Lost Dutchman Marathon in February, I think we put on a fun, low key marathon / half-marathon for a reasonable price. It's an out and back course along the Sun Valley Parkway; the same road we use for the 30K in December. The scenery is nice and the terrain, while not exactly flat, isn't too challenging and the road has a enough curves and hills so you’re never staring down 13 miles of black top.

I got up and out of the house around 4:30AM and headed west for 26 miles to north side of the White Tank Mountains in the far western side of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan area. It was 33F when I got to the staging area at the Start/Finish line and helped set up. I'd volunteered to manage an aide station and got assigned to the station near the 10 & 16 mile markers; so I had plenty of time to help hand out tee-shirts even after the 6AM early starters took off. I was pretty confident that there wasn’t anyone in the 6AM group that would get out past 10 mile before 7 AM.

I finally left the parking lot at 7:05 as the main race started and was immediately filled with a sense of awe. Driving down the road past an endless stream of red cones really drove home just how far we run. Even at 55 MPH, it seem to take forever to get out to my station. How do we do this? For a moment, I just couldn’t comprehend running that far.

Once I got out to my assigned station, I parked the car off to the side of the road, set up a small table, made a couple of gallons of Gatorade (it can’t stomach the stuff when it’s too strong …so I assume everyone likes it a bit weak); rummaged through the first aid kit to see what I had and started pacing up and down the road. There wasn't a sole in sight.

I was 7:40 when first 6AM starter arrived; a woman running with a pretty tan lab. I could see her coming down the road for about a mile and I was happy to finally have something to do. A few more of the 6AM starters came by and then the race leader (starting at 7:05) flashed by waving off any fluids at 8:12. The guy had just covered 10.1 miles in 1:07; a 6:38 pace uphill. I realize this isn’t world class, but I don’t get to see people running that fast very often. He was followed a couple of minutes later by 4 or 5 other fast people. What was amazing about these fast folks was their calf muscles. Just incredible definition.

After the faster guys came by, I started getting clumps of normal runners (I define a normal marathoner as someone like me, the 4 hour crowd). These folks were running in small groups, stopped to take a cup of water and Gatorade, and say a few words before they continued on down the road. This is a low key marathon.

The only person I worried about all day was the last 6 AM starter that came through my station. He was wearing a heavy sweatshirt and was drenched. It had taken him nearly 2:30 to get to me and he wasn’t looking good. I had a dry tee shirt in my car I’d got for volunteering and I insisted that he put it on and tie his sweat shirt around his waist. I had him drink a couple of Gatorades and a water, and gave him a bagel before letting him continue on. I also had him spread out is wet tee-shirts on the bushes in front of my car to dry out. I figured they be plenty dry before he’d cover the 6 miles from this station to the turn around point and back to me. I also knew that the last aide station would get to see him twice before letting him head back to my station at 16 miles. We also had cars driving up and down the course all morning looking for folks having trouble. But still …

In the end, all 60 starters finished … it was a great way to spend a morning.

I have a few pictures (what would a race report be without pictures); however, I didn’t take any of these. Our club's volunteer coordinator ran the marathon in 4:06, stopping every so often to talk with volunteers and take pictures along the way. I added his picture to end of this report as well as a link to his gallary.

The Start Line looking west, just before sun rise

Desert vista, 6 miles into the race

The White Tanks Mountains looking south from my Aide Station

Your's truly at my aide station. Note the ravaged desert behind me. Another "master planned" community in the making. This one is created by DelWeb corp. But they are all the same and are a real blight on our community. They come in, scrape off all vegetation and replace it with golf courses, asphalt and look-alike house with lush lawns. Just what we need on a desert.

Click HEREto see all the pictues

Our Club's Volunteer Coordinator. He's hard to miss and has a heart of gold ... and he is damn fast when he isn't spending time taking pictures.


J~Mom said...

I am so totally bummed that I didn't come out and do this half. Darn, darn, darn!!!

Thank you for volunteering! That is such an awesome thing to do!

DawnB said...

Nice job volunteering Phil, thats for sharing those great pictures.

Josh said...

Thank you for volunteering! It is so great to give something back to the running community.

Sounds like a nice, low-key race!

Gotta Run said...

What a great way to give back!!! I am one that beleives the smaller races are the better ones to take part in.

Giving your shirt to that runner had to make a huge difference in his ability to finish. Good thing you were there!

Love the slideshow. Thanks Phil.

Ewen said...

Did the last bloke make it back to you Phil?

Looks like a great low key event - the top photo reminds me of the scenery of the Alice Springs marathon.

Yes, we were absolutely amazed to see lush green golf courses in the middle of the desert - like the one at Lake Powell. Hardly environmentally friendly. Lucky you've got big mountains/dams and lots of snow.

Deene said...

Aww! so sweet of you to look out for the wet sweatshirt runner. i'll expect you to be a volunteer at my next marathon!

Thomas said...

I think it's really great that you'd spend so much of your time volunteering at a race like that. Well Done!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

yay for volunteers!!!