I drove up the mountain before sunrise this morning. My destination: Lower Blue Jay campground in the Cleveland National Forest. Today, I had the honor to sweep Old Goat 50 Miler. Oh, the privileges of working a race! First off, I was able to drive all the way to the front lot to park. I also didn’t have to sign in or sign any waiver. I walked around in the big tent. I knew the race director, his wife and the race coordinator all by name. I saw lots of running friends, both runners and volunteers. And best of all, I got to take off running whenever I was dang ready.
The sweeper’s job:
Sweepers run behind the last person in the race. They pick up trash, take down course markers, and look for anyone left on the trail. Sweepers in the first parts of the race have it pretty easy. Runners are still relatively happy. Sweepers don’t have to pull anyone from the race. And the weather is nice and cool.
I swept the first ten miles of Old Goat this morning. It entailed a loop referred to Cocktail Loop, which consists of running San Juan Trail to Old San Juan Trail, back to San Juan Trail into Blue Jay campground. There’s no aid stations along the route. It’s all single-track, and technical.
I had an overwhelmingly enjoyable run sweeping Old Goat. I felt utterly stress-free, with all the time in the world to complete this loop. The run was so easy, I don’t think I took even one sip of fluids until about mile 8. I met new people, some I recognized from Facebook. I fell once, skinned my knee. And I practiced maneuvering over ridiculously rocky terrain. Back at the San Juan/Old San Juan Intersection, I got to help direct runners out for their second loop (The Candy Store Loop). I wasn’t jealous one bit that I was not running this race. I much preferred my easy-peasy, happy time over any inevitable death-march today.