In which I don't know how to start this
A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away
So long ago, that the month has been lost to me in the mists of time, MedVed held a Conversation about running trails and ultra distances. It would have had to have been in 2014 some time. Anyway, I only remember two of the panelists (sorry all the other awesome people that spoke): Ron Heerkens and Scott Magee. Ron because, I was ascendant in my running, and his excitement and joy convinced me that I could someday run an ultra myself. Scott's because he laid out for the community a vision of a race that he had fought for years to make happen. The Finger Lakes Trail complex was known to me, almost exclusively by looking at the maps dreaming of hikes. As he described the ineffable beauty of the course he laid out, I could see in my minds eye the topographic contours, the fields, and roads, and trees. I heard the enthusiasm that Scott had for his dream, the anticipation of my newfound friends, we had the weekend free, and I didn't want to miss out.
Now this is camping
My kids were young and so we picked the aid station that allowed onsite camping and had a playground and a pool. We promised to stay until noon, figuring our kids would be done and we could slink off back home.
Up at the crack of dawn, setting things up, and anticipating the arrival of the runners; the trail ahead and behind me were both hypothetical concepts. The runners were recently met, with names already forgotten, only the vague knowledge that they were mine. Those next several hours were transformative. As a family, we finally, served together, with all five pitching in to help the needy as they straggled into our station. Elnora and I learned to lead and guide and diagnose and scold. My children watched and learned and helped and grew.
Last year we rinsed and repeated, confident that we knew what we were doing. And the weather changed the experience completely. We were no longer cranky helpers pushing people out of our station, but rather lady liberty crying
We watched as our before acquaintances, now friends crashed one by one against their ambitions. All we could do was smile and hug and help.
This year, we rinsed and repeated confident we knew what we doing. And, my family had to be away. Once friends, now boon companions, my trail family, stepped up to help fill the gap and we had a phenomenal year. Several of our volunteers were first time aid-stationers, and by the end could have run the place; so smooth with their help and kindness. I took some time to take pictures, and got to capture smiles and grimaces and power that will stick with me. This family that I've found by opening my social circles to a new group, made all the difference.
Again, I don't have a narrative for this event. People were faster than I would have deemed possible. Others were crushed by the course, then rose up phoenix-like to support and give and allow others to supersede themselves. I'm inspired by and in love with this community. I have previously said that Twisted Branch is the capstone of our running community. I stand by that assessment. Remote hugs to all of you