Yesterday my husband Javier, along with at least a dozen fellow Donner Party Mountain Runners, ran the Overlook 50k. It was a rare opportunity for me to simply be a participant in an ultrarunning event just down the hill.
Usually I am racing or volunteering. The luxury of crewing my husband and several dear friends, then hanging out (on fresh legs) at the finish to greet all, was not lost on me.
Let me clarify what I mean by “ultrarunning event.” Chaz Sheya, the creator of the Canyons Endurance Runs, does not simply produce ultramarathons. He and his team craft an experience for the community from start to finish. The community supports him in turn with a huge volunteer turn-out.
This was the first year that Chaz directed the Overlook runs, which were created by the legendary Ann Trason. The courses showcase the historic Western States Trail, complete with a river crossing and later passing over No Hands Bridge.
For me, as a crew person and spectator, the experience did not disappoint. A 75-minute drive from our home in Truckee, the 50k featured a very civil 8am start in the daylight. After the start I stopped for an quick breakfast and coffee at the surprisingly great deli in Warton’s Market in Foresthill.
Next I made my way down to the Rucky Chucky aid station, where I was lucky to at least greet and often crew each of our club members as they passed through. Coach Peter came through looking strong in 3rd place, but asking for the bathroom (uh oh.)
I had Javier’s soft flasks ready to go: two fully mixed with Tailwind and two with dry Tailwind powder. But then the first runner in the women’s race (Gabby Maudiere) came in with polite plea: does anyone have a water bottle? Her soft flask had broken. Of course we do! We’re all runners, too!
Without hesitation (and without fully thinking it through, I might add,) I offered her one of Javier’s “dry” flasks. She was extremely grateful and went on to win the race.
Javier came in later than I expected, as he had a head cold all week and the day was heating up quickly. Thankfully, he would need only one of those dry flasks (but I did have a sub-optimal backup plan in place.) I helped him refuel, cool down and he even took a few moments to provide tech support for the runner tracking system that he helped setup for the race.
I didn’t realize how overheated he was until we talked about it later. I should have insisted that he take the ice bandana that I had prepared. (Need your own ice bandana? Buy it here.) Thankfully, the waist-deep water crossing at Poverty Bar completely revived him.
I happily stayed at the aid station as the rest of the team trickled in, and was especially delighted to see Bill Hunter, who so selflessly serves so many at other races, including our own Castle Peak 100k.
I barely got back to the finish in Auburn in time to see Peter claim his podium spot (despite all the potty stops.) Bob Wright, one of our Tuesday morning speedwork regulars (and author of this hilarious Castle Peak 100k race report,) laid down an impressive 9th place finish in the men’s field.
Javier came into the finish to a cheering crowd with solid determination. We greeted the rest of the finishers and enjoyed Chaz & Abbey’s signature grilled tri-tip burritos with homemade guacamole.
Eventually we recalled that we have kids and pulled ourselves away from the festivities.