I saw Ragnar Wasatch Back this year from a different perspective.
Though I had been signed up and set to run for nearly a year, and even had specific routes assigned, I had to pull out about 6 weeks before the event due to an injured hip...an injury that I actually think is due to my 8.2 run up East Canyon last Ragnar. I felt horrible pulling out at such short notice and tried to make it up by offering to be one of our team's 3 required volunteers.
When my long-time teammate and friend, Greg, told me that his son Chance (who ran with us last year) would be taking my place and was extremely excited about the opportunity to run again, I smiled really big. I couldn't think of anyone better to run for me...it went a long ways towards erasing my guilt and sadness.
I manned water station on leg 35...the second to last leg in the entire 2 day race....coming down from the crest of Guardsman Pass. It was a long leg...8 miles. And it was this particular group of runner's 3rd and final leg. So they were tired and sore...but anticipating the exhilarating finish so close and soon to come.
Another girl was assigned to help with the water station along with me. And I immediately could see the difference between us. She had (wonderfully) volunteered to help out a niece who was running but didn't really know much about the race. I had run it 3 times before, knew all the ins and outs of how the whole thing worked, knew how the runners felt and was much more invested. While my volunteer partner wandered around to see the view, played around on her phone and talked to her aunt who she had brought along with her for company, I became the ultimate energizer bunny cheerleader. I waved at every van that came around that corner and drove past us. I cheered, whooped,hollered and encouraged every runner that came by, whether they stopped for water or not.
And I was kind of amazed at the amount of Ragnar love I got in return. Volunteers are hugely appreciated by Ragnar runners. I know this. I've been a runner. But I was still a little stunned at how many runners called out their thanks and expressed their feelings for me as a volunteer. I can't count how many vans cheered for me, went out of their way to roll down their windows to wave back.
* I laughed at countless funny things runners would say as they took their quick water break. Lots of muttered comments about downhill runs and losing toenails, the heat, the sore muscles, the blisters.
* One girl came running up and breathlessly told me, "I just got stung by a bee! On my butt!!" When I expressed concern, she lifted up the leg of her shorts and actually showed me. And yep, right there she had a lovely little welt. I asked if she needed anything and she cheerfully replied, "No. It doesn't hurt anymore. It just really surprised me and I totally screamed! But I'm fine now!" And then off she ran as she gave me a jaunty little wave. I could only laugh.
* Another guy, as he guzzled down some water, asked if I had a cell phone. I whipped it out and he asked if I could text his wife. "I was suppose to call her when I started my last leg," he said. He jogged in place as he gave me the number and told me what to say and then he ran off, calling back to me "You're the best!!!" His wife and I texted back and forth a bit....neither one of us having any clue who the other was but not thinking much about the supposed weirdness of the situation because weird doesn't really have any place in Ragnar.
* We were startled to see a van coming barreling around the corner and screech to a halt on the other side of the road. A few people jumped out, talking with what seemed like a bit of panic. A few seconds later a man came running around the corner....but with a severe limp. He looked like he was in a lot of pain. His teammates called out to him to stop and a younger guy came running across the street to yank the orange slap bracelet off his arm. He ran off as the older man crumpled to the ground just to the side of our water table, breathing heavily. It all happened so fast. We ran over, as did two other ladies. Apparently the man had crashed into some big sign up at the top of the hill. He heard a snap in his ankle, he said. I offered to call for help, but he declined. Being within miles of the finish line, he let his teammates help him back to the van, planning to get his ankle checked out at at the bottom of the hill.
* I saw 3 people I knew go by. Mark from my old Magna neighborhood. Jay, a friend from jr high, high school and college. And funny enough, Sean....also a school friend. But Sean wasn't running. He wasn't part of Ragnar at all. He just happened to be biking up in Park City that weekend. It was fun to see them all.
When my shift ended, they didn't have anyone to take my place. So I offered to stay for an extra hour. Afterwards, I made my way to Park City High.....got myself a late lunch, did some Ragnar swag shopping and more or less just took in the atmosphere and participated in the finish line party. Admittedly, I was a little sad at times to see all those runners and to know what they had accomplished and remember how cool that felt. And part of me wished that I had earned that seriously sweet 10th anniversary Wasatch Back medal. But wow, I tell you what...volunteering was fun! To still be a part of things, even though I couldn't run, and see the awesomeness that is Ragnar from a whole different perspective....I very well may choose to volunteer again next year.