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Get Involved: Tommyknocker Ultras Volunteering

14 Oct 14
Heidi Kumm
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3 comments

The past few months have revolved around running…but I haven’t always been the one with a bib pinned to my shorts! I have discovered that some of the best motivation and inspiration to get yourself outside for a run is to help others do the same. And the best way to do this?! Volunteer at a race! You’ll get to watch runners take on new distances, push the pace, turn an ultra around and just enjoy life. It makes you want to get out there yourself…but it’s also a reminder that running without fully recovering is a bad idea!

Just over a month ago I roped Marissa into volunteering at the Tommyknocker Ultras in Woodland Park, CO. I was a volunteer at this race by default – I had been working with Human Potential behind the scenes and I wanted to watch their first official race unfold. Since racing a 50K the weekend before Run, Rabbit, Run 100 would have been a terrible idea I showed up to volunteer instead. I knew the Race Director and most of his core crew personally so when I arrived with Marissa in tow the night before the race they didn’t hesitate to put us to work. Our first task? Rock hunting.

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Recovering after some intense rock hunting…next to the tent we rented from Auckland Outdoors!

Yup, rock hunting. We needed a rock for the start [the race was named after miners and there was an axe – the race would be started/finished with an axe into a rock]. We may have been in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains but there were NO rocks to be found! We actually had to drive a mile or so down the road and wrangle a rock from the woods. I kid you not. At the very least my poor Forester earned it’s keep that night!

The next morning we were all up bright and early to get everything ready for the 8am start. Marissa and I handled last minute check-ins then became the RD’s chauffeur once the race started. We headed out to check in on various aid stations and make sure the runners were not getting lost. The aid stations were doing great…but the runners were struggling with the course markings. Not so much because they weren’t there…but because a rather disgruntled landowner decided to re-route the race course! This homeowner didn’t want people running near his property, even though the course was on a very public forest service road. Rather than just suck it up and go about life like a grown adult this landowner chose to play with bright orange spray paint + marking tape and send the poor Tommyknocker runners all over the countryside!’

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…it was a beautiful countryside, but when you’re lost, thirsty and tired it’s easy to stop caring about the views!

At the end of the day the runners either ran a 25 miles or 40 miles…definitely not ideal. However, Human Potential and its crew gets kudos for jumping into action to do as much damage control as possible. Volunteers were sent out to remark the course and then run it in reverse to find racers and a roaming aid station was put into play to keep the redirected runners hydrated and fed. This was definitely a situation that could have been much worse – it was far from ideal for Human Potential’s first race but it did give Human Potential an opportunity to prove just how much they care about the runners.

As for my day?! I had a blast volunteering! I got to sleep in an open field, eat donuts for breakfast, snag handfuls of Jelly Belly’s from various aid stations, stay fueled with “vacation coffee”, spray paint a mini boulder bright orange, sprint through pouring rain and nom down on finish line BBQ. Worth the drive? You betcha! Will I be out to volunteer again? Of course!

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Up next with Human Potential? The Indian Creek Fifties in Sedalia on November 1st. Will I be there? You betcha, only this time I’ll be a runner! Marissa got the itch to take on an ultra while volunteering at the Tommyknocker Ultras so it’s only appropriate for her to have her first race over 13.1 miles go down with Human Potential, right?! Not up for running an ultra yet?!

3 Comments

  1. Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb October 15, 2014 at 9:53 am Reply

    I swear volunteering at races has provided some of the best of times. I’ve loved each and every experience.

    • Heidi Nicole October 22, 2014 at 9:47 am Reply

      My next career — full time race volunteer + crew. It’s so rewarding! Emotional along the way, but so rewarding at the end of the day!

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