longtime readers will recall i watched last year’s beach to bay next to the guys from pack 11. it was a lot of fun, and i’m too lazy to go anywhere else (they’re next to our abode), so i was back this year for Round 2.
this is pack 11. the three tall guys in back apparently are really, really bad at tying knots and unable to graduate to the big kid Boy Scouts. or they may have been dads. hard to tell; i wasn’t wearing my glasses.
i got there about an hour before the first runner. it’s my favorite time. the guys are always looking up the road, searching endlessly for the first runner on the horizon. even when seeing a runner at that point would be 1:45 marathon pace. 8-year-olds aren’t that big on splits. they just want to splash people.
long before the first runners came by, the guys assumed their places. the trick with the aid station is that the dads make them keep one foot on the curb (or not get caught. yes, i’m talking to you two in the front.) this results in 45 degree angles that they hold for hours. i’m guessing they suffer a lot more than the runners.
if you follow beach to bay (and i’m guessing you do not), the one certainty is that the first runner will be wearing a Fleet Feet Elite singlet. so i was amazed when the first guy through was sporting Core colors. i think i read somewhere that their one goal was to beat fleet feet. mission accomplished. best part about leading: you get your choice of water cups.
the guys make it look easy, but working the aid station is tricky business. if not handled properly, the net used for catching used water cups can be treacherous.
it’s fun to watch the guys develop their handoff technique as the race progresses. as a runner, you appreciate a cup held in such a way that you never have to break stride. it takes a few tries, but soon they’re ready for the Olympics. sadly, the Olympics don’t allow handing off water. rules, rules, rules.
in 1961, the Amateur Athletic Union banned women from all U.S. road races because of concerns they were too frail.
in 2016, i watched this girls kicking the butt of pretty much the entire men’s field.
2016 is way more fun.
running one leg in a relay marathon in 120 percent humidity is amazing. running ALL of them is nuts. this was one of the runners taking part in the first solo edition of rhe race. perks: no need to tote baton, and the aid station had a secret gatorade stash for them. “you just saved my life,” he told the scout handing him gatorade. i hope there’s a merit badge for that. (note: i have no idea if he actually lived.)
i love runners, but never more than at an aid station. they’re hot, they’re tired, they’re miserable, they’re hating life. but they NEVER fail to give a heartfelt thank you to the guys. runners are good peeps.
as one who spends most races as a participant, it’s interesting to watch runners from the sidelines. running at its essence is an odd thing. it never always gets worse, but let’s see how close we can come. you can do it, the dads told the guys to say as encouragement. sometimes we all need a little encouragement. sometimes it worked …
if you’re a cub scout working an aid station, you mostly wait for those two magic words: “SPLASH ME!” i’m guessing most runners aren’t prepared for the onslaught that follows. splashing should be a merit badge as well. i should become a scout consultant.
many hours and hundreds of hours later, through intense heat and pouring rain, amid swarms of VW-size mosquitos and contests to see who could fit into the buckets at the end of the station, they continued. they kept watch till the last runner was happy and on the way to a triumphant finish. because that’s what scouts do. thanks, guys. see you next year, barring a restraining order …