Monday, March 26, 2012

Buffalo Run Write-up from a Pacer/ volunteer

I had the awesome experience of being on an island all day Saturday to help with and witness some amazing things. Each March there is a great event called the Buffalo Run. There are 4 distances to choose from; 25k, 50k, 50 mile, and 100 mile. I did the 25k in 2010 and the 50k in 2011. This year I wanted to do the 50 mile but due to my tough guy syndrome and ignoring an ailing achilles I decided it was a bad idea. Instead I volunteered to help at an aid station and got the chance to pace Christie, a friend from, during a portion of her first 100 mile attempt/finish.

Today I recieved an email from another DM friend Derrick who had been contacted to do a write up on the event. (He ran the 50K, I beleive.) He emailed me some questions and I got a little verbose in my response and thought that it might be a good idea to include my responses here along with some photos I've stolen from Christie and some that I took myself.

Below you will find Derrick's questions in bold with my responses directly following them. (in case you couldn't figure it out).  I've never been interviewed for a race live or via email before so this was pretty fun. Here goes: (the pictures were not part of the email, but Derrick if you read this you can use them if you want.)


1. First off, I know you by Jeremy H. What is your last name?

My name is Jeremy Haddock. I am 32 and live in Logan, UT.

2. What was your experience pacing for the 100 mile course? Who did you pace for?

A while back I found out a friend from was running the Buffalo Run 100 miler as her first 100 mile race. I thought it would be fun to run with her for a while and help out where I could. She was only going to have 1 pacer and I thought she could use a little more support. I was already signed up to volunteer so my time was limited but I was already planning to be on the island that day. I figured if she didn't want any more company I'd just hit some of the other island trails and then cheer people on but this was way cooler.

This was soon after I joined Christie. We had just left my aid station.
So since I had never met Christie (from Boise, ID) before, I didn't have much of an idea what to expect from her. She seems super bubbly online but you know that people can often be different in real life. Turns out she really is that bubbly and smiley in person. I got up Saturday morning and didn't have much of idea of where on the course she'd be. I got to the start area around 8am. (The 100 mile race began the previous day at noon.) I got out of the car and headed over to the start area and figured I'd see if I could figure out where she was. As soon as I found out who the racers were supposed to check in with, I went and waited to ask if she had checked in. Just then, Christie and her husband walked in and checked her in. I asked if she was Christie and she was confused at first but then remembered that I was coming to run with her for a while.
Christie's husband Wayne taking our picture.
She was crying and apologized for it. I told her not to worry about it and that I was there for her regardless of how she was feeling. I told her she looked great. Apparently by this point she had run somewhere around 70 miles. The last 15 or so with huge painful blisters on each foot. I joined her on the trail and soon her pacer caught up to us. I had not expected to go quite so soon so I was overdressed and didn't have any water with me.  A little over a mile down the trail we passed the aid station that I'd be working later so I dropped a layer there. We continued down the trail not knowing exactly when I'd turn around for my assignment. We had a great chat as we headed down the trail. When we were almost to the next aid station there were several buffalo right near the trail. We were going to go off trail in the opposite direction to give them a wide birth but then another female runner came by and they got further away. So Christie's pacer and I ran ahead to get them off the trail a little more. Christie's husband who had been following along the road with Christie's 5 kids got a great photo of us on the trail with several buffalo in front of us.
We had to scare these guys off the trail for Christie. Pretty nerve wracking.

My view
My view
Looking over my shoulder at Christie @ about mile 77.

Part of the trail I helped pace.
I got the chance to run ahead and behind a few times to grab something for Christie and was happy to do so. I also tried to distract her by pointing out an antelope, several buffalo and an awesome reflection in the lake. It worked sometimes but I could tell she was having a rough time. When we got to the Lower Frary aid station I only had an hour until I was due at my aid station so I gave Christie a hug, told her she could do it and promised to see her at my aid station (mile 94) and started running the 5 miles or so back to my assignment.

3. How was volunteering? can you describe your experience?

Volunteering was awesome! When I first got there we were almost out of water.  I ran a little over a mile to the start to make sure more was on the way (plus I wanted to get my car/food). They had already sent more but sent me to try to find a place to fill more water jugs. I failed. I brought the empties back and headed to my aid station (Mountain view aid station). I found out that we had indeed run out of water and several runners were upset about it, but by the time I got back we had more water.
This guy thought it was ok to just stroll on through. He ate less than any of the runners.
There were two other guys working the station with me. Jay, who was obviously a seasoned 100 mile runner, and Malcolm, the high school senior son of a friend of the race director who was running the 100 mile race. It was getting hot so Malcolm and I put up a shade but I was apparently already fried. I felt awkward at first because I had no idea what I was doing (my first time volunteering). I noticed that Jay would run down the trail to approaching runners (now moving fairly slow) he would get their bottle and run back and have it filled before they got to the aid station. Then he could focus on their other needs. I know he was trying to get some miles in but it seemed like a fun way to offer exceptional service so I put my shoes back on and started to do the same thing. Malcolm also joined in the fun. It made it a lot more entertaining and you could tell that the runners were appreciative of the effort we were putting in. 
Moving on to meet his buddies
We joked that we guaranteed that ours was the best aid station and offered anyone who felt otherwise could run back to us and complain. No one did so we must have been awesome.
Most of the runners coming through looked very tired (they were either at 44 or 94 miles at this point) but we only had one or two that we were worried about. One girl came in shivering. she was wearing black pants and a black jacket and was still cold. We had her sit down and helped her take in some salt and fluids and made sure she was feeling better before we allowed her to leave.
They aren't quite as scary when they're on the other side of a fence. Although I was told they can run over it.
I got to see another dailymile friend, Matt, who was running the 50 miler and later I got to be the one who ran out to find Christie coming in with her pacer. She had been so worried that she wouldn't finish on time but I assured her she could still make it. We let her sit down for a couple of minutes, gave her some calories, liquid and encouragement and sent her on her way. I was so proud of her.

4. Why did you decide to help out at the race?

Originally I wanted to run the 50 mile race this year. I had completed the 25k in 2010 and the 50k in 2011 and figured it was the logical next step. However, when I was getting ready to start training I realized that the achilles issues that I had been ignoring for 8 months were not getting better. I thought about trying another distance but wasn't sure what I'd be able to do.

Later I was contacted via facebook by Britta Trepp about volunteering. I had heard how great it was but the idea of a discount towards next year's race and permission from the wife sealed the deal for me.
After closing down the station, I was left alone to wait for a truck to come pick up all the crap. I got some nice relaxation in. I was so glad for the cloudcover.
 5. What is your experience in trail running/ultra racing?

I first started trail running in high school in Colorado for cross country. I preferred the trail races to the golf course or road races. In 2002 I ran my first marathon. I got married soon after and stopped running consistently. After gaining more weight that I wanted, I started running again in 2008 and worked my way up to doing marathons and a half ironman but I longed for the dirt. I did most of my longer runs in Logan canyon on the trails. In 2009 Jim Skaggs offered a free Hill climb race on Antelope Island and it was a blast even though only 6 people showed up. As mentioned above I ran the 25k and 50k distances at the buffalo run. But my first race over the 26.2 was the 2010 Logan Peak Trail run (28 miles, 7200' elevation). I was amazed that I recovered so much quicker than the marathons I had run. That combined with more enjoyable scenery and a more laidback culture was a major reason I love trail running.

Last fall I spontaneously helped pace another DM friend for 16 miles of the Bear 100, only meeting him the day before. It was a great experience too.

6. Is there anything else that really impacted you or you found interesting about the race Saturday?

I had heard it before, but it has really started to sink in since Saturday that a 100 mile race is an excellent analogy for life. At times it is fun, other times hard, sometimes you feel alone, sometimes you have great friends to help you through the rough patches but no one can do it for you. We all have to put one foot in front of the other for ourselves as we head down the path of life. Small things repeated enough make a huge difference in the outcome. Its not as much about speed as it is about a consistent push to move forward. There are some beautiful view and memories to take in, and in the end you want your family and loved ones there to cheer you home. 
Christie's family at the finish. Congrats again Christie!