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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Volunteering at The Harding Hustle

Well, it turns out that I can indeed get my butt out of bed if I commit to someone else. Can’t do it for myself, but if I tell someone else that I’ll be there, then I will. Case in point – last Saturday (7/22), I was up at 4:30 am and on the road by 5:00 am on my way for a day in the mountains, volunteering for the Harding Hustle. I’ve run this race once (the 50k portion) and have worked it several times. This year, I stepped up on a last minute call looking for volunteers. I had mixed feelings – volunteering for a race is a bitch, the day is long, and bugs are plenty. But being in the mountains, well, that is wonderful. Not only that, I get to see people I haven’t seen in a long time, and I always get to meet great new people. Generally, I like people.

The Harding Hustle begins and ends at Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in Modjeska Canyon, offering 3 options: 15k, 30k and 50k. It is a tough race, not terribly technical, but the climb is enormous. And the route is mostly exposed. Drops inevitably happen due to heat exhaustion. It gets HOT. I worked the Modjeska Peak aid station on Saturday, the spot where runners had to turn off of The Main Divide and run up Modjeska Peak and back. Then on their return from Santiago Peak, they had to run back up Modjeska Peak and back. It’s a tough spot for the runners. It wasn’t a bad spot for us (Pete, Sonya and I). We had a gorgeous view, and an occasional breeze. And I got to hike up to Modjeska Peak to place markers on the ground for runners to mark their bibs (a mile up, and a mile back).

We only had one drop at our station. But we picked up some more drops on the way down. We drove up on some pretty miserable runners. I almost cried witnessing one runner admit defeat. His shoulders slumped forward, his feet barely shuffling, it brought back a familiar feeling, a deep, dark exhausted feeling.

Anyway, we didn’t have enough space our truck to pick up the drops, so volunteers got out and ran back (with only a couple miles left). Can you imagine, being so utterly exhausted that you drop with only two miles left in a 32 mile race? I haven’t quite done that, but I can certainly imagine it, and I’ve seen friends do it. When you’re done, your done! Those poor miserable souls – they were wasted.

Anyway, I’m glad I went out, and am always glad to be in the mountains, especially helping runners on their crazy feats. But yikes! The day was too long. I pulled up in my driveway a little after 4pm.

Look at that cloud cover over the Inland Empire!


View from Modjeska Peak, looking out over Orange County


Standing on Modjeska Peak


View of Santiago Peak from Modjeska Peak


Modjeska Peak Aid Station (located at the base of M. Peak)


Traffic jam on The Main Divide when one truck on a convoy coming up gets a flat


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