I heard the above words at the check-in area for the Afton Trail Run, this past Saturday. I was there as a volunteer; the speaker was there as a runner. I’ve run this run (the 25k version) once before.
I didn’t agree with him: I’ve found that preparing properly for races is the hard part. Showing up for the race is easy, in comparison – you get dressed, get to the starting line, and go. The factors that will assemble the final challenge are truths, not possibilities. It may sound trite, but, well, you just do it.
Now, having possibly insulted the efforts of nearly 500 runners, I will say that the day was inspiring. I handed runners their t-shirts as they excitedly checked in for the race. The smiles were huge and the anticipation was palpable. A test, and some fun, was coming up for all of them.
A few hours later, I joined the aid crew at mile 12.75 (or 28.25, for the 30 mile/50k runners). There, I cheered runners as they arrived, then helped them get hydration, electrolytes, stomach-settling aid, ice, fuel, conversation, and/or shade, usually for a few brief moments. As each of them set off along the trail, he or she exuded a unique blend of determination, excitement, exhaustion, frustration, elation, and more. This event seems to be so much more about individual goals, struggle and determination, than larger road races I’ve run in. It’s a pleasure and honor to be involved as a volunteer.
Now, about the pancakes. They were my sweet reward (as was a 4 hour nap), later in the weekend, for my efforts. Volunteering is hard work! My husband, the flipper of said pancakes, is awesome. We found an excellent new recipe in the Staff Meals cookbook: “Half-Inch-High Buttermilk Pancakes.”