What can I say? After watching an amazing mix of athletes from aged 13 to 80+ circle Lake Nokomis time after time, in horrible conditions throughout most of yesterday into a chilly June night, I am at a loss for words... I have taken part in a variety of mostly tough races over the past few years but there was something incredible about this event. Watching Mike Henze crush the 24hr course record to hit 147 miles and being a part of John's team as he pushed his way to 80+ miles in 12 hours was sufficient reward for putting in a few volunteer hours throughout the morning and last night.
I had an absolute ball doing the record keeping for the 7-8am hour of short laps this morning. It was awesome watching runner after runner blast up and down the 1/8 mile strip to the sound of many cheering supporters. I have never seen so many tired bodies get a second - or most accurately a tenth - wind as they rounded the cone time and again to make every second count.
Each and every person out there was an inspiration. But a few runners come to mind - Karen Gall smiled even more than Carl which says something! I was blown away by her good mood as the day wore on and right through the night as she ran her way to over 100 miles. Janine Knutson - who just ran her first ultra at Chippewa - ran a super 12hr race to hit something like 55 miles. Wow! Kim Martin never seemed to slow down - I couldn't believe her pace on the short laps - to end with ~121 miles. It was awesome to see so many trail running friends - Julie (glad to hear Topaz is on the mend), Adam (who just made me laugh with his lack of enthusiasm when he stopped by on what was to be his final lap - never before did it seem so okay to not encourage someone to keep going!), Zach (where did you disappear to?!), John Taylor, Joel (way to run those short laps!!), Wayne, Kurt and several other familiar faces including Holly who was at AS 1 with me for a few hours in the middle of the night. And the kids out there were something else - Sue Olson's son John and his friend Nick who are 13 and 14, respectively, and another Nick who is also 13 - these guys ran the 24hr and all hit over 50 miles. I think John was close to 70 by the end. And they were so humble and good natured every time they came by the aid station. Really something.
No question I will be back at FANS next year. To volunteer again? I suspect not. More than once I have said this isn't a race for me but by 8am this morning that attitude was forever changed. A year is a long time but please God I will continue to stay healthy and (relatively) injury free... and find myself toeing the line at 8am. As for when to finish... I guess I have a while to think about that one :)
In the other big race this weekend... HUGE congrats to Matt on his awesome 6th place at Kettle Moraine 100M!! What an achievement. And so very well deserved after a dedicated early season of training. Congrats to Kevin on his first 100 mile finish. To Steve on his second in 2 months!!! To Pierre for... yet another one! And to Wynn on a new 100K CR. Sweet! Looking forward to the race reports.