Sunday, March 29, 2015

Paying our dues

My little camp in Kuwait offers about a race a week. I generally do all of them because they’re free and good chance to experiment with training. Until about a week before the race I was strongly thinking about doing the shadow of the Bataan Death March. At our camp this was to be done in uniform, with boots and a 35 lb (or heavier) pack. But the 5k I had run a few days earlier seemed to indicate to me that my legs were still recovering from my marathon effort. After discussing the matter with my running club, the Kuwait Running Mafia, we decided that we would instead volunteer at a water stop. We would put on THE water stop.

I have always tried to remember to thank volunteers when I run a race. I am very grateful for the time they spend setting up and standing out there. I recognize that the races I love could not happen without them. The idea of doing a running club water stop appealed to me as a fun way to pay our dues back – at least a little bit.

But if we were going to be standing out there for nine hours (this was 26.2 mile ruck march, not a run) we decided we were at least going to have fun as well. We acquired some Gatorade packets, one of the team igloo coolers, a cooler full of near beer, decorations, and a corn-hole set. The idea of a kiddie pool came up, but was abandoned since the water was at least notionally supposed to be for the runners.

Tom cuts the bananas
The Morale, Welfare and Recreation folks use the Red Cross to run their volunteer efforts. Three of our team members, Sam, Kelly and Tom, went to the volunteer gathering at 3 am and claimed us a water stop on the far corner of post – with plenty of space for our corn hole. The red cross provided a table, water and a trash bag. I brought the rest of the club supplies and met Sam, Kelly and Tom at the water stop. By the 4am race start we were playing our first game of corn-hole while we waited for the first ruckers to reach us.

At some point while waiting we decided that the marchers could use some fruit so a few of us made a fruit run to the dining facility which graciously (if unknowingly) donated asmuch fruit as we could fit into our to-go plates, pockets, hoods and arms.

We were at about mile 8 which meant that the marchers were somewhat strung out by the time they arrived. In the meantime we also got a nice surge of club members who for some reason felt like sleeping in until 6 am or so. I made a few runs for more fruit or in one case to take a marcher to the clinic for a badly sprained ankle.

A little rain comes through

Of course an engineer takes the first near beer
A little after noon the marchers (and club members) tapered off until it was just Sam and I. As expected the 300-or-so marchers had gone through our fruit, snacks and Gatorade like locusts. I had been surprised by just how much water we had needed. By some rough back-of-the-envelope calculations we might have given out 70 gallons of water (and Gatorade). I cannot really guess how many bananas, pop-tarts and other snacks that we gave away but it was also pretty substantial. My one regret was that we did not bring a second trash bag from the club to separate out the water bottle and we should have brought a lot more cups for the Gatorade.

When the last marcher came by around 1 pm, Sam and I packed up and went to the finish to survey the carnage. As expected, marchers were strung out across the field basking in their accomplishment. We said hello to a few friends and parted ways back to our rooms to pass out ourselves.

Sam, Chief and me

Engineers work hard, rest hard

While I will probably have to volunteer many more hours to even break even on the kindness I have received at races, it was nice to make a small down-payment.

Doc fixes up a foot

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