Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Soup Nazzie - Volunteering @ Ron Herzog


Another race I participated in without putting in a single mile of running. Wanting to be apart of something in some way, I volunteered again at another event - a 50k in Granite Falls, WA (just outside of Everett). The task I agreed to: Manning the Start/Finish aid station, makin' soup. Yeah, I was going to be the Soup Nazzie.

The previous night, despite waking up 5 times in a row - I felt remarkably refreshed. I figured that I'd help out and get some running miles in since I missed a run that week. Hit a Starbucks along the way and got some coffee for everyone (which only a handful of folks actually drank - must get a "Coffee for all" sign next time.) After some scary driving in the darkness that is late autumn, I found the race site. The one thing I've always hated about running these things or helping out at these things is trying to find the places at night. I'm always paranoid that I'll miss a turn or get lost and end up somewhere like in the movie Deliverance.

After finding the site, I saw that things were already underway. Shawn and tc were getting things in order, registering folks and trying to bring order to the chaos that goes along with being in-charge of races. A pretty warm morning, we figured things were going to go well for most folks.

After the first set of runners left for the early start, a few of the faster folks hung around waiting for the regular start. Well, with all this waiting time, people talk...about weird stuff. You stick a bunch of ultrarunners in the same place and you get the most oddest and inappropriate conversations...that I won't get into here and will leave this post relatively PG. Haw-haw! :-P

Once the regular starters went off, we pretty much chilled for a bit. Our other volunteer (Jess Mullen) was going to be running the aid station around mile 8 and since the course forced people to run virtually uphill for the whole way there, she had plenty of time to drive over and setup shop for those runners. But soon, Jess, Shawn, and tc all took off to their respective places and I was alone. Just me and my propane stove...until a green Saturn rolled in fast and out popped Linda Barton with a late start (but still a pretty fast finishing time being tardy!)

Still, there was plenty of time before I had to play Soup Nazzie, so I figured it would be a good time to get a run in of atleast an hour. Ya know, get a feel of the place. That's when the sky opened up and decided to dump on the whole place. Call me a fair-weather runner if you will, but my t-shirt and shorts that I packed in the car were not going to cut it for this amount of wet.

So, with my main plans of running during the downtime being shot, I pre-occupied my time with my new issue of Runner's World with David Goggins on the cover, my Nintendo DS, and checking/readying the supplies for soup. That's when I started to be a dorky nag about things.

When I was done hooking up the propane tanks to the stove and the smaller tanks to the portable heater, I realized what was missing:

- Four D batteries for the heater to operate the fan (but that wasn't too bad to not have since the heater itself worked.)
- No matches or lighter for the stove (yeah, it didn't have any kind of starter built-in).

"Okay, how do I light the burners?", I thought to myself. Then I saw that the heater had a small pilot light that would pop out when you started it up. I used a wooden stirring stick that was provided with the Starbucks coffee I bought earlier and used that as a way to get some fire for the stove.

Now that the stove was working (well, slowly at first), I looked at the soup that was donated. My first thought was, "OMG WTF?" We had 30 runners and we had 6 cans of various chicken soups, 5 cans of various beef veggie soups, two cans of tomatoes, and one can of chicken cream chowder...HUH????? The registration was to bring TWO CANS and $25 for the entry. The point of the cans was to have a really good surplus leftover so we could donate it to a foodbank. We also had vegitarian runners out there and they were going to have the choice of either beef or chicken??? I also knew that we were going to run out of one and people would barely eat from the other if I cooked up both Beef and Chicken soups. I then also noticed something else...no spoons. No bowls. No scoop. Oh boy. Time was ticking by quickly at this point. It was 4 hours since the regular start and people would be showing up wanting warm food, especially after running in the cold rain for 2+ hours.

tc and Shawn showed up just in time and had the rest of the stuff needed for soup. It was the big oops of that day. Then as the first and second runners came in, they had to go without any warm goodies. Both vegitarians...and both guys also failed to bring in cans of soup themselves. (NO SOUP FOR YOU!) Thankfully, a majority of the folks were meat-eaters and slammed down that chicken soup (and some even enjoyed the beef!).

Everyone seemed to be in good spirits. As for me, I originally felt like we weren't as well organized as we were at Baker Lake. Looking back, I think that feeling was more attributed to the fact I didn't have everything I needed at the start at first. Mistakes happen and it wasn't something that would take down the event. I was just my typical anal-retentive self, but I always want to make sure that things go well during these events. I personally think it's my best quality as a volunteer, to care enough to want things to go 100% well and that everyone is taken care of. Hopefully, I didn't alienate myself to my friends in being so anal-retentive.

Now that's over, I wonder what the next race is that I'll lend a hand at? Will I ever RUN any of these races? Only time will tell. :-)

No comments: