As I pulled into the parking lot at Happy Days in the C uyahoga Valley Natiolnal Park Syste, the delivery truck of supplies pulled in right behind me-perfect timing! As soon as t hey unloaded, the NEO Trail Contigency also pulled up and we began unloading and setting our our AS.
Happy Days is at Mile 70.3 of the Burning River 100. Our station is both a drop bag location and a pacer and crew access point, so we do get busy throughout the evening. We started a good system, though, last year, by cordoning off almost entirely our Aid Station to ONLY Runners. No family, crew, pacers hanging out waiting to pace, in our Aid Station. Some family and crew don't like this, and we estimated we probably pissed off about ten people (none of which were the runners.) But an aid station is for the CURRENT Runners (and pacers), not for the coming in runners. An AS is there to serve THE RUNNERS, nobody else. So it's much easier to cater to THE RUNNERS without lots of extra people milling around.
And cater to the runners we did. We had plenty of volunteers, so bottles were being taken from runners, filled with their choice of beverage. Runners were questioned on how they were feeling, drop bags fetched, food ladled out for them, cups of Coke held while they changed socks or wolfed down food.
With a local race, with your friends coming into the AS, sometimes it's hard to kick these people out. After I noticed Jerry still hanging out, I pretty much took him by the arm and led him out of the AS as he continued to talk! (Jerry, you spent 15 minutes at Happy Days!). Also, it seemed like many friends who looked well, bad last year, came through looking strong and happy-Opod, Paul, Mike George, Bruce-good to see you guys looking great! I was bummed to have missed Erie Tom somehow-I must have been in the portopotty or watching a runner on the cot-sorry Tom, but congrats on the finish!!
As the evening wore on, the runners came through and ate food! The cooler temps seemed to bring on an appetite-all good. All of us Aid Station workers kept putting on jackets, but it didn't get really chilly with us.
We had a very good group of workers. We would have 1-3 folks behind the table, ready to ladle up broth, noodles, mac & cheese, volunteers out front filling bottles, helping with drop bags. Someone would bellow out 'noodles and broth' and someone else would spring to get it ready-great teamwork gang!!
Our last five runners came through. One runner decided to end his night there. So our last runners were through our aid station-well before closing! I think they were at least 20 minutes or so before the cut off, so I didn't have to deal with any runners beyond the cut off time. Actually that idea didn't bother me, because I've been a runner whose timed out, so I could certainly understand their position. Our AS was actually dismantled and cleaned up and we were ready to leave by 2am!
Big thanks to all my Aid Station Workers-Jim, Heath, and Eric Harris, Bob & Shames Combs, Mike Keller, Elizabeth, James and Michael Sosan, Maria, Chef Bill Bailey, Moose, Brett and his wife Lesa, my parents, Jo and Jim Love, Cheryl Splain, Zach! Thanks for giving up a whole day out of your busy lives to support some crazy ultra runners-it was very appreciated!