Chuckanut 50k- RD's perspective
21st running, March 16, 2013
RD Krissy Moehl
coRD Heather Anderson
A 3:30am alarm is early no matter who you are, but on race morning for a race director it is likely you are either still up from the night before or lying there waiting to get the day started. This year it was the later for me and when the alarm went off I first listened for the pitter patter of rain outside. None. Thankful. Driving the Uhaul up I5 on race morning is the quiet headspace I look forward to in preparation for the day ahead.
Upon arrival at our new start/finish location at 6th & Harris in Fairhaven I was greeted by the lights of my parents' RV. Ma had spent the night and was already bustling about getting her kitchen ready for the runners. From the time I jump out of the Uhaul the day unfolds, twists and turns much like the trail does for the runners once we send them under way. There is a plan, a hope and intended execution, but things come up and it is how we deal with those differences that determines what the end of the day will look like. This year's new coRD Heather Anderson jumped right into the mix and rolled with the day like an old pro. We had fun getting out on the course to cheer the runners through Aid #1 and then hustling back to the finish area to get things set up. Our big initiative at the Chuckanut 50k for many years has been to reduce the amount of waste created by our event. With the help of UltrAspire's new collapsible, reusable cups each runner carried their own cup for water, cola or EFS electrolyte drink. The aid stations did not have cups lined up on the tables, instead volunteers stood at the ready with pouring pitchers.
Finish line set up was rushed along a bit as the lead guys were pushing the pace. The Radio Club was letting us know updates of where the lead runners were and my phone was full of text messages ensuring we knew their status. The awesome team of volunteers turned the soggy parking lot at 6th & Harris into a welcoming finish line. BuDu Racing in charge of the timing set up an arch to identify the spot. Patagonia, Flora Health, Fairhaven Runners, Clif Bar and Nikwax created a welcoming area right after with shelter and products to check out. This was completed by my parents' RV ready with hot soup from the local Book Fare Cafe, coffee from Tony's Cafe and bread from the Bellingham Great Harvest. Furthering our reduced waste initiative each runner was asked to bring their own mug/bowl for their coffee and soup. The plan worked well and we saw an awesome collection of people's kitchenware wandering around the finish area. We hired a 30'x30' tent to be set up providing shelter and heat, but there was still something missing. Eight bales of straw did the trick to tie the whole finish scene together and help sop up the puddles (for a bit) and block against the mud created by the rain that started just as the first finishers made their way across the line.
The runners' results this year were inspiring start to finish. The lead men pushed each other all day as the photos indicate and it was only in the final miles that David Laney pulled away from Max King and slipped under Geoff Roes's 2011 course record. Local Bellingham favorite Jodee Adams-Moore, familiar with the course and how to run it fast after chasing Ellie Greenwood last year ran out front of a strong women's field and lowered the women's record by an impressive eight minutes. (side note: 13 years ago when I first participated in the Chuckanut 50k no woman had run faster than 5 hours. Now women are creeping in on the 4 hour mark!) Thanks to the support of Patagonia, Patagonia Footwear, Flora Health, First Endurance, Clif Bar, Ultrarunning Magazine, Pro-Tec and Fairhaven Runners the Chuckanut 50k was able to give away a $4000 prize purse. Additionally USATF named this year's Chuckanut 50k the PNW Regional Championship, meaning local registered runners partook in their $1700 prize purse.
All day the parking lot continued to fill with muddy, smiling Chuckanut finishers and volunteers swarming about taking good care to keep them warm. Our incredible medical team rose to the occasion for a few underdressed, near hypo-thermic runners, and we were thankful this was the extent of their need that day. Most of our age groupers seemed surprised with their top performances and the addition of Millbrook Clayworks clay pints were the cherished take home. Runners and volunteers both were spoiled with countless prizes of gear and product from our supportive list of sponsors and supporters.
The day wrapped up with the parking lot clearing out, tents collapsing and everyone helping. Our sweeps worked the longest hours ensuring the trails were clear of any accidental trash (surely no one would drop a wrapper intentionally!) and our determined final finishers. With everyone safely off the course and with a warm cup of soup in their bellies we picked up the final pieces and locked the gates. The Uhaul packed, ready for clean up the next day, we joined the crew at Big Fat Fish Company for stories from the day and more eats.
My BIG thanks to all of the enthusiastic people that make this event so special each year. There is a lot of love and energy that goes into pulling together any event and I feel the energy that surrounds the Chuckanut 50k is extra special.