Monday, September 23, 2013

A Year and Thirty Hours

The NorthCoast 24-Hour Endurance Run (NC24) has been my baby from the beginning. Not that this particular baby isn't shared. Several people helped me get it off the ground, and many others have helped along the way. But I've always had my hand in it, and it's gotten deeply into my soul. How's that for mixed-up metaphors?

After three years as sole RD, last year I shared the Race Director duties with John Hnat. This was with the understanding that he would take over as solitary RD this year. John decided to step down, however, and Hugh Patton took over. And then, around the June or July time frame, Hugh left the picture too. Now we were left with, once again, me. I suppose that shows that what goes around really does come around sometimes.

If I was going to be RD, I suppose that it was a good thing to take over in July, rather than have it go all year. This way, it may have taken more of my time during the final couple months than it would have otherwise, but it may have been less work overall. At least it only went on for a couple of months, intense though they were.

Another good thing was that our same team of race organizers was in place. These people are simply the best at what they do, and NC24 could not take place without them. I need to tell you all about them now. Here is the gist of a Facebook post I made the other day:

NC24 would is *nothing* without all the fantastic volunteers and the best organization team on the planet. Let me tell you just a bit about the latter (in no particular order):
Roy Heger gets the power generator, rents the truck, handles tents and other big stuff. You will find Roy out there running the race, as usual.
Shannon Miller Fisher puts the shirt order together, procures the food and supplies, and coordinates all of the stuff throughout the event.
Barbara Gibson Clutter coordinates the volunteers, and also helps coordinate registration.
Larry Orwin is coordinating the Friday dinner. He also runs NC24.
Jan Roe helps Shannon with the coordination of food and supplies throughout the event, and also helps with registration.
Scott Stuetzer procured the awards and medals, and also loads and unloads the supplies from the trucks, day and night.
Charles Elkins times the event and also rents the porta-johns and dumpster and buys the water.
Frank Dwyer manages registration and the finances of the event, keeping us in the black. He also runs NC24 every year.
Debbie Horvath helps to direct the Boy Scout troop in the serving of breakfast.
Me? I don't do a darned thing.

So in the final couple months (which was actually a compressed year), our team put together, as always, one heck of a race. On race day itself, several of us arrived at 6:00 AM to prepare for the 9:00 AM start. There was a nice, steady rain, except that at the time we didn't think it was so nice. We got everything unloaded, the tents erected, and everyone checked in as efficiently as possible.

And then they were off. This is where I get the most satisfaction as RD. Seeing it all unfold. Seeing the volunteers working so hard to please the runners and attend to their needs. And mostly seeing miles of smiles on the runners' faces. It all makes everything we've been doing worthwhile.

The rain tapered off, but we were left with strong wind coming off the lake. This is nothing new, but it never makes it easy. For the first time ever, I managed to get out and do two things that I've never done at a previous NC24 event: I took some pictures, and I got a run in. The run didn't come until 10:00 PM Saturday, but it turned out to be just the right time to do it, as things were settling down somewhat.

On Saturday, several runners and crew members spotted some individuals taking runners' belongings. The park rangers apprehended two of the individuals. I don't believe anything that was extremely valuable was lost. This was an unfortunate situation however, and to have anything at all stolen is terrible. We will take some steps to try to prevent this from happening in the future.

Also on Saturday, we were treated to a wonderful sunset over Lake Erie. The day had turned out to be a pretty one, after all.

Sunday morning came soon enough. There were, as always, some tremendous performances, including those by the top men and women, and also by one Leo Lightner, who apparently (it has yet to be ratified) set US and World age group records. What an inspiration!

And then, just like that, it was over. Breakfast was served, we tabulated the results, and presented the awards. Even though we were all tired, this all went as smoothly as possible. The cleanup was also fairly efficient, thanks to the help of the team of organizers and volunteers. When all was said and done, I'd been working on NC24 for thirty hours.

Thirty hours of ups and downs, laughter, inspiration and being on my feet. It was all great, and as Brian Peacock would say, the best part is, it's over.
At the awards             photo by John McCarroll

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