Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Big Sur Marathon

A couple Sundays ago I had the opportunity to volunteer for the 22nd presentation of the Big Sur Marathon. It was a fantastic preview and a "behind the scenes" look at what it takes to fully support those crazy brave souls who are actually running the 26.2 mile course. I was excited to join the team working the mile 23 water stop, offering water, gatorade, oranges, bananas, lots of encouragement, and Free Hugs! We started at 6:15 am, filling cups, cutting fruit, waiting for runners to help, and didn't stop till nearly 1 pm.

Here's a quick smattering of what I saw in those seven short hours:

*Bleeding Nipples. Many pairs. (I will leave it at that. Ask a male distance runner should you really need more details.)

*Barefoot (yes, you read that correctly), I repeat Barefoot runners. (Yes. Plural.)

*Both the men's and women's marathon winners. AMAZING. FAST. When the men's winner (a local! From Santa Cruz!) passed by, we were all in awe.. he didn't even look like he'd broken a sweat, and at 23 miles in, he was SEVEN minutes ahead of the next runner.

*An old friend from college. A lovely girl (lives in TEXAS) that I have not seen or spoken to in at least five years... she happened to be running Big Sur (her first marathon! Go Rebecca!) and had her wits about her (after 23 miles!) enough to a) recognize me, b) stop to say hello, and c) give me her email address. What a small world we live in.

*Thousands of truly grateful marathoners. I got so many "thanks for being here", "thank you for volunteering", when we were really there to support them. I swear, if I'm physically able, I'll thank every water stop volunteer who hands me something.

*Inspiration everywhere you turned. Determined men and women, of every age, every weight, and every shape pushing themselves towards their goal, up and down those Big Sur Hills. My fellow volunteers (and TnT teammates) often looked at each other and said: "They can all do this. We can totally do this."

After seeing the amount of work that it took for just ONE waterstop at the marathon - the amount of effort that must go into putting on a large city marathon - like San Diego - is just mind-boggling. And so much of that effort is truly volunteer. Runners helping runners. My big day is just three weeks away.... watching 4,000 people take on such a challenging course has raised the excitement level for me... one more long run to go tomorrow, and then it's time to taper!

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