Ah, when life hands you lemons....
Despite NOT running 50 miles on Saturday, alas, Brian and I did manage to eek out a nice little weekend for ourselves. The kids were all set to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house, to see the circus no less, and the idea of disappointing them simply could not be borne. So off we went, just the two of us, up to our idyllic cabin in the New Hampshire woods.
Or, as it turned out, our haphazard plywood hovel in the middle of a trailer park.
No matter. No matter. We were only six miles from Mt. Monadnock, and the trailer park people were very nice. It looked like a kids' paradise to be perfectly honest. Hordes of kids on bikes zipping from campfire to campfire on a pleasant Friday night. Our kids would have been in heaven.
Early Saturday morning we hiked up Monadnock. It was chilly and foggy. Lovely weather to my mind, though Brian prefers a bit more sun on his weekend getaways. We went straight up the White Dot Trail, because the ranger at the Park Headquarters intimated that it might take us 3 hours to get to the summit and we were a bit pressed for time. Thanks to my overwinter forced marches up and down the big hill on Clift Street and Brian's general goatlike proclivities, we summitted in just over an hour. This gave us ample time to wander about in the fog at the top, get a bit lost, and slide on our bums across the wet and treacherously slippery rocks (actually I slid on my bum; Brian refused because he is an Experienced Mountaineer, though he did LAND on his ass a couple of times).
We made it to our Wapack Trail Race Volunteer Post -- the Binny Hill Aid Station -- around noon to start handing out water and food to the runners. Wapack has three races: a 21-mile point-to-point, a 42-mile out-and-back, and a 50-mile out-and-back plus 8. Our aid station was at mile 17 for the 21-milers, and mile 38 for the longer racers. 50 milers came through our station twice again during their last out-and-back stretch.
Needless to say, we saw quite a few tired folks coming through. The other Binny Hill volunteer was a fantastically friendly, twenty-something ultrarunner from Southie named Keith. I just love ultrarunners. I cannot stress this enough. There is definitely something endearing about our little community. The kindred-spiritedness transcends age, gender, class, race, everything. I have never encountered such a consistently decent, interesting, quietly driven and yes, weird, wonderfully weird group of people.
At this point in the race most of the runners were weary and we did our best to keep them going. We filled water bottles and hydration packs, we pushed electrolytes and snacks, we cut up oranges and bananas, made endless peanut-butter sandwiches, and tried to send everyone off with a smile.
We closed the aid station just after 6, and packed everything back to the start/finish. This involved a hair-raising downhill ride along a bumpy backcountry road in Grandma's Suburu. I did my bit, stomping my imaginary passenger-side emergency brake during the entirety of the descent. Over in the driver's seat, Brian was having the time of his life.
By the time we got to the finish line, most people were long gone. We hung out and chatted with Bogie, the RD, and Steve P, Chief Volunteer and something of an Ultrarunning Legend, while we waited for the few remaining runners. It was great to finally meet Steve in person. We have been online buddies for quite a while (he always gives me excellent running advice), but he's even better in Real Life.
By this time, the hours and hours of being cheerful and encouraging were starting to get to me (my face was feeling saggy-baggy), so I offered to trot out onto the course and sweep for the few remaining runners.
Here I am running in a few great folks at the end of a long, long day on the trail (photos by Bogie)
This woman was the last 50-mile finisher of the day. She ran a great race. Her husband (first picture) ran 42. They are both going out to Leadville this summer. I wish them all the best.
We broke down the finish line, redistributed the remaining aid station food (Nipmuck Dave took a carful for the Trail Marathon next month), scooted the last gallons of water into the back of Steve's truck, and then the skies opened like freaking Armageddon. You would not believe this rain. We missed it by scant seconds.
Brian and I woke Sunday morning in our quaint little cabin (um, shotgun shack) to clean air and blue skies. We went up Monadnock again, this time from the other side. I took a few photos to document the day.
This is Brian at Fairy Spring. He fits right in. He looks just like a spritely woodland nymph, does he not?
This is the view of the Monadnock summit from (damn, I forget the name of it). We'll call it Grasshopper Rock. Why not? It kind of looks like a grasshopper. Or an elephant tusk, perhaps.
This is Brian at the summit. It was godawful windy. Such wind as I cannot begin to describe. It was enough to take your breath (and your footing) away. Enough to hold up Brian's full 180 pounds as he leans out over the precipice.
Here we are at the top. Fetching couple. (Check it out: I'm wearing my Wink pack. I love that thing!)
And Brian descending. Because that's what Brian likes to do. These rocks are nice and dry in this picture, but Saturday they were wet and slick. You see what we were up against.
All in all, as I said, it was a lovely weekend, with a couple of excellent, quad burning hikes. The three-hour drive home seemed endless, however. After almost 48 hours away, we both desperately missed the kids. The little faces. We live for those little faces....