09 April 2011

Ultrafriendly: Beautiful Strangers

One of the things I love about ultras is how complete strangers will do so much for you, help you in so many ways.

I remember during the Dick Collins 50 Miler, running with a fifty-something guy who offered me heaps of love advice. And when I was torn over personal problems, Ray listening to me for hours in New Paltz.

I remember getting sick in my first 50 miler, Vermont 50 Miler, and having a complete stranger seeing if she had Immodium or Pepcid to help me, and counseling me on drinking ginger ale and eating animals crackers.

A complete stranger during the Miwok 100k, upon hearing me cry at how many more miles and the pain I was in/asthma troubles, offered to throw her race and walk the last four miles with me. And Stan Jensen hugged me as I bawled into his arms (not knowing it was the infamous Stan Jensen!)

During Umstead 2010, lots of people helped me after I ate too many M&Ms...tums, ginger ale...

And the pacers...they never give up. They won't let you give up. At Javelina Jundred, Jon humoured my hallucinations, looked for shooting starts w/ me. Jenn Shelton (yes, that one) lent me her expensive, fantastic headlamp when I was on the verge of tripping on the way back to the main aid station.

This year, at Umstead, the crews of other runners helped me because I had no crew. They got me cups of deliciously watery Gatorade, filled my water bottle with water. My pacer was amazing - he literally dragged me the last 12.5 miles, pushing me when I wanted to collapse and cry.

And at mile 94.5, at the final aid station, I couldn't stop shivering. Blankets. Heat lamp. Soup. Hot cocoa. Time. And then - a volunteer gave me a t-shirt. Another gave me a pair of running tights. Another runner with an overstuffed drop bag lent me a running shirt.

All these strangers...no idea who they are. I may never see them again. But they contributed to my race, a race I couldn't have finished otherwise.

I know I've helped others. But still - I feel so grateful for all of these beautiful amazing helpful people. So - thank you. I never would be where I am without you. Thank you all.

1 comment:

Ken Swab said...

So very true.
During the 2009 Bull Run Run 50 miler I was down on hands and knees at mile 46, dehydrated and vomiting and Ken Seale, who didn't know me at all, stopped, checked my pulse, gave me water (I could no longer keep Gatoraid down) and promised to stay with me the rest of the way if I wanted to continue. It took two hours to go the last four miles, having to stop frequently to rest and then suffer through another round of vomiting, but Ken stayed with me every step of the way.
For more on that run see my report.
Others talk about the kindness of strangers; ultrarunners give and receive that kindness.
Ken S.