Wednesday, March 30, 2011

tracks n treads 2011

When it rains it pours or at least that is how it seems to me. Let me tell you why. I have been running my butt off for months, well maybe not really running it off, I mean when I look over my shoulder, it is very much still there, but you know what I mean. Being a race director is much more than just the glory on race day. In my case it wasn’t really glory on race day, but more of a nightmare. It was one of those DOH! How did I let that happen mistakes, but I will get to that later.

For 5 months I have been securing the date, reserving the venue, hooking us up with the Midwest Fat Tire Series, getting the race info posted on websites, securing the insurance, putting up posters, distributing entry forms, soliciting volunteers, designing shirts and awards, well really Jeff did all the designing and Dave did all the shirt ordering, I just coordinated the designs and orders, I did however get the awards ordered after a slight setback, then enlisted, Lori, Chuck, and Patrick to help engrave them. I worked with Mike to get all the supplies ordered and the porta johns setup. We all know the porta johns are one of the most important parts of a race, so at least that went well. We had marshals for everything, the run course, bike course, water stop, post race food, course setup, registration and shirt distribution. We also had all the hard working volunteers to do the grunt work. The race was really coming together well.

On Thursday night before the race we thought everything might workout, we had not gotten any of the rain that had been predicted and we hoped that the rain the weatherman was talking about was not going to hit on Friday. The good thing was we had a backup plan, an alternative course, in case the trails were too muddy to ride on.

So Friday came and the weather gods were not treating us well, it rained all day, the trails were muddy and slick. I called Scott from GORC and told him it was his call, but we would wait until Saturday morning to make it, but we both knew what it was going to be. Unless we were hit by gale force winds overnight, we would not be using the single track route.

Race day came and Scott made the call, we would not be using the single track trails, and to make matters worse the backup course had a section that was also too muddy to ride, so we had to make a third change to the bike course. Fortunately Scott had already thought out a plan that could work for us. We set out about 90 minutes before the start of the race to mark the new bike course. Since Scott knew the first part of the course he took the GORC crew and marked it. I took Chuck and Patrick and headed out to mark the back half of the course. We marked the course through the single track section we call log alley, because it is covered in logs. Good thing for foresight, Mark took a saw down to log alley on Thursday night and cleaned up some of the worse sections and he did it with a hand saw. Thanks Mark that was going above and beyond.

After marking log alley, I sent Chuck and Patrick to finish the course marking while I headed back to the start. 15 minutes before the start of the race, Patrick called to tell me the course was marked and they were at the turns waiting for the competitors to come through.

Mike and I gave prerace instructions and covered the new bike course, telling the racers to follow the red flags and chalk arrows. We hoped we did a good job of marking the course with all the last minute changes. All the volunteers were in place and Mike would lead out the runners on the Gator.

All the racers were lined up and ready to go. We had a field of 117, even with the cold temperatures we still had 20 race day signups.

It might have been the really cool shirt we gave out that drew them in.

Or it could have been the cool posters and the talk from last years racers that had them excited about the race. It may have even been the rumors of really cool awards that brought out the crowds.

Rich from Metro Milers shot the gun and the race started in a flash.

The run was fast with the runners passing the water station twice during the race. Culligan supplied the water for the racers and we had some veteran water stop volunteers manning the station.

The runners started filtering through the transition and started the bike loop, those running the 5K, came through the finish chute. The first biker came out of the transition and Mike and I led them out on the Gator. By the time we were about a mile into the course more bikers had caught up and were riding so fast that the Gator couldn’t stay in front, so we just pulled to the side and watched them pass us.

Now this is where my race director’s nightmare started. The new bike course was fast, faster than anyone anticipated. I had planned on being at the last corner into the finish and had told the volunteer that worked that corner I would be down. Well I got tied up with the results for the 5K and didn’t make it down to the turn before the volunteer left. The first place racer came through and made the turn, but the second place racer went straight, missing the turn and going about a quarter mile before realizing the error and turning around. To make it worse the next 4 guys followed him. I got to the turn just about the time they were all coming back. The mistake took some of the 5 racers out of position to place, some it didn’t make a difference in age group placing, but did give them a slower finish time.

I learned a few hard lessons as a race director, first don’t assign myself jobs, I have too much going on to take on an important job like working a major turn on the bike course. Second don’t assume that red flags, chalk arrows and pre-race comments will be enough to keep the racers on the right course. This won’t happen again on my watch.

I regret the mistakes I made and just hope that all those affected by them will return to the race next year. I promise I will do a better job in the future.

So the race was won in a smoking fast time of 53:44 by Anthony Dust. I know Anthony and knew he was a really fast biker, what really surprised me was that he is a pretty darn good runner too.

We also had a team of two 10 year olds that finished. Rory Shaw and Jacob Slosar completed the race in 1:41:15. Jacob rode into the finish followed by his mom and dad cheering him on.

Overall I think it was a good race. Everyone I spoke with after the race, really enjoyed it even with the alternate bike course. I saw a couple really favorable posts on the St Louis Adventure Racing board and the GORC forum. When people post about a race, it usually means they loved it or hated it. I’m just glad, they loved it. I hope we made the Midwest Fat Tire series proud, this is our first year with them and I want to make sure our race lives up to their standards.

Next year will be bigger and better. Lets all pray that the weather gods will be with us and we can use the single track bike course. It is a really good course. And most of all thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors, there are too many to list, but everyone did a fantastic job, especially those of you that stayed and helped with the final cleanup. Thanks to the Cyclery for being there to help the racers with bike problems. I couldn’t have done it without all the volunteers and sponsors.

1 comment:

  1. Great Job on the race. I think you are too hard on yourself. Given that this was an ALT route I think the course was very well marked. Any other race that would have changed the course the morning of would have had a lot more than 4-5 racers take a wrong turn. Thanks for all your hard work. Many of us are already excited for next years race.

    PS...Beer taste better out of the trophy!