The 3rd annual Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 Mile Race starts at 9 pm at Camp Pioneer, just outside Beverly, West Virginia. The race is a 'lollipop stick' meaning you go out 12 miles, then run a big loop, then run back the same 12 miles.
This being the case, Aid Station 2/7 is right at the start of the loop. And the trail!!! The first 12 miles of the race is road, mostly dirt/gravel...and mostly up. And up. It's a 12 mile climb up Cheat Mountain.
I was AS Captain along with fellow WVMTR member Mike. We also had Lori D, a newer runner and new trail lover, and Lora, a veteran AS worker (Liberty grad/Horton race worker). Lora had brought along 3 very amusing college students who were using the AS experience as their community service hours. Hey, nothing like build a campfire, sleeping in a car, and lying to people (" you look great, it's all downhill...." etc) for your community service hours! We also had the "sweeps" working our AS until their sweep job began. We got along great with the sweeps when I mentioned beer for the AS workers...
Most runners were in a good mood and relieved to be at the start of their trail running. Some didn't know what a gnarly trail they were embarking on (see previous post for photos.) One woman was complaining vociferously..not a good sign 12 miles into your race...but most were good to go.
We had runners from around 1030 pm to midnight. We still had a few folks unaccounted for. Lora hopped in her vehicle and drove back to the last AS, and came back. Nope, everyone was through. Then the sweeps work began, and they left us. Their job is to stay behind the last runner, so no one is left out on the trail. They were also picking up the trail markers from the race.
I went and got in my sleeping bag in the tent I had set up. I don't think I actually slept, just relaxed and listened to the college kids playing a word game. It seemed like about 20 minutes had gone by and a vehicle pulls up horn blowing. It's Adam Casseday, Race Director, letting us know the first runner, Jeremy Ramsay, will be blowing through our AS anytime.
Sure enough, Jeremy comes through just about two minutes later. About ten minutes after him, the other front men appear. Now the folks are trickling through, usually in pairs. I turn my chair so I can see the runners appear around the corner.
Due to the great diligence of our college workers, we have a roaring fire all night. I was snug in my coat and chair. It seemed like every time I turned off my head and got more comfortable in my chair to nap, another runner would appear!
Everyone seemed in good spirits too. We even commented on a few folks that had been a little ill on their first trip through our AS were feeling much better. One group of three were in particular loud spirits-a pacer herding her two very young runners through. The young guys were tired and just saying gibberish (pretty common this late in a race). The female with them still looked fresh. At the finish line, I found out this was their first 50 miler, their longest run.
Before long, the sun came up, and the sleepiness and fatigue fell away on cue. We started to get things cleaned up and packed away. Looking at our list of runners, we had most checked off. However, without any form of communication working, we had no way of knowing if these runners were still in the race or had dropped somewhere.
The sweeps came through, and we knew we were released! As we descended off the mountain, the fog came up and it was colder down in the valley. We passed all the remaining runners on the dirt road, and I tried to yell at each one and give them a thumbs up as we passed.
I got the vehicle unloaded of the AS stuff and hung out for a little while, then decided to drive home before it got too late. I made it about 1.5 hours before I stopped for a little power nap. More caffeinated beverages and a phone call got me the rest of the way home. I then took another 2 hour nap before I tackled unpacking from the trip.
It was much fun working the Aid Station. I encourage you, if you've never been on that side of the table, to put some hours in. Runners are very appreciative of having some food, beverage, and encouragement out in the middle of the forest-and in the case of CMMM-the middle of the night!!!