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Aid Station Advice, or, Sound Sage Words from SweetWater

With the Lake Sonoma 50, Gorge Waterfalls, Leona Divide 50, North Face Challenge, Brazos Bend, and so many other races in the coming days and weeks; I would like to turn back the clock to Jan 30, 2016.



The days flew by on the calendar, closer and closer to the big day. Until, the moment was upon us.

It was time.

The TCT Sweet Water Trail Runs

I also happened to be the weekend that I was supposed to load over 10,000 pounds into a Penske truck and move it to not just one, but two storage units – with only the help of my wife and dear mother.


16 Feet of fun… Should have gotten the the 26 footer.


Alas…the trail calls, and I must go.

I was not planning to run this time, however, rather choosing to spend the morning catering to the needs of hungry, confused, sweaty people; with whom logical sentence structure was going to be a fleeting thought.

It was my turn to give back to the community and to TCT Runs.

I drove up in the dark of the early Northern California February morning, and found myself among the ever growing mass of people. I was first given the task of parking cars. Luckily another volunteer had a spare flashlight for me to use. It was then I learned my first lesson in volunteering: BRING A FLASHLIGHT.

The spaces quickly filled..first the primary, then the secondary, and finally to the overflow lot.


So many runners!!

It was a fantastic crowd, and soon all gathered for the pre-race brief and words of wisdom from the ever inspirational Gordy Ainsleigh. The teeming crowd toed the line, and off they went, first timers, seasoned veterans and weekend warriors alike.

After the crowd of fleet feet was on their way, I drove off to my next assignment: aid station support at the 8 mile turn around. From there it was water, electrolytes, and PB&Js.


Emerging from the trail, including Gordy Ainsleigh and and one runner very excited to be out on the move!


Gordy Ainsleigh passing through the aid station.

Aid station volunteering is a very active job. One cannot just sit and watch, or even stand by and cheer. You have to be proactive, helping runners with their gear, filling bottles for them, laying out more food when the plates run dry, and making sure they have their wits about them.

Are they complaining of cramping or fatigue? Maybe some electrolytes are in order.
Gastrointestinal (GI) issues? Maybe some soda to help settle things out, or watermelon to stimulate digestion and energy production.
Looking confused or delirious? Have them take a seat and tend to their nutritional needs until they look ready for the trail again. Trail running offers plenty of challenge through technical terrain and hazardous obstacles; any reduction in cognitive function unnecessarily amplifies this danger.

Get up, and give the support you would want when you come into an aid station.
After a few hours, and assisting just about 95% of the runners on the field, it was time for me to get back to the boxes waiting to be loaded on the truck, and the massive to do list that accompanied our move.


48 hours, four trips, and over 10,000 lbs worth of stuff. No fun.

I had made a promise that I would volunteer this year, and while I fully intend on helping at more races, getting out there so early in the year for such an amazing race was the perfect way to start 2016.

Find a race near you, grab some PBJs, pretzels, a cooler of beer – and practice Korima.


Runner on the move


Single track fun.


The hills of Folsom


Run Happy,
– The Winged Ling



Additionally, my wife and I will be at the Lake Sonoma 50 this weekend; including the pre-race dinner and the wine tasting on Sunday. If you’ll be there, say hi, but whatever your next event is – enjoy and run happy!

One thought on “Aid Station Advice, or, Sound Sage Words from SweetWater

  1. Pingback: Canyons 100K & Tahoe Rim Trail 100 – Training, Camping and BRAND NEW EVENT! | The Winged Ling

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