We all know that aid station personnel are the unsung heroes of ultra running. Sometimes in the toughest ultra distance events, having the right person on a given aid station can be the difference between success and failure for a participant.
The purpose of this thread is to collect stories of how aid station staff have helped you out, and perhaps even saved your race.
At the NDW 100, I mashed up my ankle pretty badly at around the 60 mile mark, with the result that it hurt whenever I put weight on it. I thought that I had a stress fracture, but it turned out to be soft tissue damage. I asked the aid station captain if he could do anything to help me, and he replied "yes we could shoot you, or you might find that lots of hard running down hill helps". On the face of it this might not sound very helpful, but it showed me very starkly that I was coming at it with the wrong mental attitude. After that it was like a switch had been flipped in my head, and I stopped feeling sorry for myself and focused on breaking down the race.
Most of you will be familiar with the events at the TP100 this year. Suffice it to say that from the 90 mile checkpoint onwards, I was in quite a bad way, shaking uncontrollably, and spilling the cups of soup that the aid station staff plied me with everywhere. By the 95 mile checkpoint, there was a significant danger that my deteriorating condition would cost me the race. The checkpoint captain saw this, and took me to one side. He fashioned me a makeshift jacket out of a bin liner, and told me that however much I wanted to walk, I needed to run as much of the remaining part of the course as I could. He repeatedly used the phrase "5 more miles" to focus my mind on covering the remaining part of the course, and promote the idea that it was easy.
I guess that the best aid station staff are good psychologists.
Any more stories?
Doesnt look like it.
Bollocks to them then.
It's true, if it wasn't for aid station staff who are unpaid volunteers there would be no races! It saddens me that for every person who is thankful and friendly when they come into an aid there are plenty of miserable bastards who are ungrateful and moody. There is a rising mememe attitude going through ultras, maybe it is the way it is evolving as tri did, I don't know?
Aid station staff are quite often taken for granted by competitors and treated rudely by supporters who just get in the way of what we are trying to do. I am afraid as I have said before, the 'clientele' of ultras is changing and the attitude of many ultra runners-whether they want to admit it or not-is selfish.
Recent experiences from marshalling have left me disenchanted with the ultra community and it is a shame that people cannot move a sport on without it becoming a platform for egocentrics who think the world revolves around their running.
iIf it wasn't for volunteers there would be no ultras for people to enjoy or make profit from!
Agreed, I try to thank the marshalls every time I race but occasionally it comes out a little more inarticulate than I'd like. Most importantly though I always strive to be polite no matter how much I'm suffering. For every couple of races I do I marshall another just to keep the ultra karma balanced.
Having stumbled through many a checkpoint I know exactly how important a good aid station can lift a runner, I did a 22 mile fell run around Snowdon last year and had the pleasure of meeting two volunteers at a checkpoint on top of the glyders, horrible weather freezing cold mist reducing temperatures to low singlefigures but you never would have noticed it from the way these two greeted you. Fantastic attitude that made me thing running the race was by far the easy part.
Well, I haven't actually run any ultras yet, but I do have entries in for a few this year. And I've already signed up to marshal at another three. Figured that as they're mostly organised and put on by enthusiasts and not just to make money, I should make an effort to do my bit to help out...
I guess that the people who are rude to aid station staff, are in a lot of pain, and probably feel awful about it afterwards.
Even so, they don't get paid for helping you out!
No, I don't think so. I think they're probably people who are just suffering from a genaral lack of manners. Some people can be incredibly rude. To waiting staff, to shop staff, to bus drivers, to work colleagues. I suspect these are the same ones that are rude to race volunteers.
If they are really nasty, I think their race number should be taken down and matched with their name, and they should get a 'next race ban' the same way that footballers can get a next match ban. For races run under Scottish/British Athletics League rules I assume it would be feasible...
Noanie wrote (see)
No, I don't think so. I think they're probably people who are just suffering from a genaral lack of manners. Some people can be incredibly rude. To waiting staff, to shop staff, to bus drivers, to work colleagues. I suspect these are the same ones that are rude to race volunteers. If they are really nasty, I think their race number should be taken down and matched with their name, and they should get a 'next race ban' the same way that footballers can get a next match ban. For races run under Scottish/British Athletics League rules I assume it would be feasible...
Double ditto! There is NO excuse, no matter how bad you are feeling. I always try and thank people - from those just waving an arm at a path junction on a 4 mile xc to someone double-checking I'm OK because I am crying because a blister just popped 40 miles into a 53-miler to someone stuck up on the top of Tor-y-foel all day in the pi**ing rain to check us coming through the checkpoint ... and so it goes on ...
"I'm a bit tired so I can be rude to this pointless little skivvy, who is here to serve me and my awesome brilliance"
They should push the bastards in a canal or something
A lot of the problem is in the name I think. Calling a race an "ultra marathon" is appropriate as it is, literally, beyond a marathon.
But then calling the people "ultra runners" gives them a false sense of adequacy. They aren't "beyond" the average runner at all, not by a long chalk. Compared to most races (london marathon excepted) the difference is that "ultra" runners are generally older, fatter and slower.
Call the race an "ultra marathon", and the entrants "not-quite runners". That'll learn 'em.
(I do include myself in that. I'm shit at running. Completely shit. Therefore I do ultra marathons, which levels the playing field a bit for me, because everybody else is, too!)
But I am always nice to the volunteers.
I do think that ultras field a much higher quality body of runners than marathons or 10ks.
I am not fast either, but I almost invariably get a higher ranking relative to the field in shorter races.
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