Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Mules Survived

The inaugural Mule Run was a success! No one died, although a few runners probably wished they could. No one was arrested by the Park Police (the C & O Canal closes at dark); in fact, we didn't even see any Park Police after dark.

Our intrepid band of six runners and their loyal crew (which can be interpreted as Crazy (or Cranky, depending on the runner) Runners, Endless Waiting) converged on Harper's Ferry and the figurative gun went off promptly at 7:00 p.m. With the runners gone, the crew headed into Harper's Ferry proper to get some ice cream. I chased my ice cream with a cheeseburger, knowing that I was going to need fuel for the long evening that stretched in front of us.

Crewing at night is a somewhat surreal experience. The perspective shifts when the sun goes down. The creatures of the night come out and you realize that there is another world, totally different than the one you know. There are bats, owls, deer, raccoons, 'possums, frogs, moths, spiders (shudder)... Then there are the human creatures of the night: the through-hikers, the fishermen, the partiers, the homeless, and crazy runners. I love stepping outside of the boundaries of my world and observing the night world. It's so thrilling to come upon a fox, or hear mysterious splashes (very loud splashes) in the water, or hear owls hooting in the distance. It's a little disconcerting to meet up with other humans and fortunately, those we encountered were harmless.

The crewing routine goes likes this: Get to the aid station location, put out water, food, gatorade, first aid stuff, and chairs. Wait and wait and wait, preferably eating the food. Tend to the runners as they come in, which takes all of about 10 minutes, unless a runner needs a little more care. Tear down the aid station, go to the next location, and do it all over again. There's a lot of waiting. The main crew were amazing. These are guys who regularly run trail ultramarathons (like 100 miles), and win. And not just win by a couple of minutes. They win by hours. They know what it's like to be out there and what the runners need, both physically and psychologically.

The weather for this run was perfect. It was a cool, clear night and there was a full moon, which added a silvery appearance to the landscape. It was so cool that after the sun went down, I had to put on a fleece jacket. The runners, however, kept warm by running.

How did the runners do? We had a 50% drop rate, which is normal for a run of this distance. One runner dropped after 17 miles, another after about 25 or 30 miles, and Tom dropped after 46 miles and needed to be rescued. He left the aid station feeling a bit nauseated but felt that he might be able to make it the 10 miles to the next stopping point. It didn't happen. We got a call saying that Tom couldn't make it the rest of the way and needed to be picked up. The challenge was to figure out where he was on the towpath. Phil (the brains behind this run) and I jumped into the car and headed out. We almost needed a rescue ourselves because barely five minutes into the rescue mission, a deer ran across the road and I missed hitting it by mere inches (that area is filthy with deer). Based on the information that Tom provided, we made a best guess as to which lock he was at and set off on a search. We found him as the sun was coming up. He didn't look bad and after drinking some Coke, was doing much better.

The "winner" finished the 62-mile run in 11:42. We were awed by her performance, as she ran strong the entire way. The others finished about an hour later, maybe a little less. The run ended at Thompson's Boathouse in Georgetown. After we collected the runners, Steve (one of the awesome crew) fried up some hamburgers and we had a picnic in the parking lot. We got some strange looks because it wasn't even 9:00 a.m. yet.

Tom and I got home around 11:30 this morning and promptly fell into bed for a two-hour nap. I'm surprised I'm coherent, although I discovered earlier this morning that I wasn't as coherent as I thought I was. Leigh was going to feed Emma in the morning, so I called her around 8:00 to let her know where the food was. She didn't pick up and I left a message. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I left a message for Leigh on our phone! It didn't register that I dialed our number instead of hers (although I do that all the time) and it didn't register that I was listening to my voice on the answering machine.

Knitting and Spinning
Hahahahahaha! I knit during the night? Nope! So much for finishing the foot of the sock, eh? I did do a little spindling at the first aid station, while it was still light. The quality of the yarn is poor at best.

I did manage to get the spindle to spin a little longer but it still doesn't spin well. I also think part of the problem is with the wool. It's wool batting, not roving and it doesn't draft well. My spinning improved with aggressive pre-drafting, but that's not saying much. Either I've lost my touch with a drop spindle or else I have a bad spindle and wool. I'll keep plugging away at it, but I'm not optimistic.

I'm beginning to fade, which is a signal it's time to move on to a different activity, preferably one that involves eating (but not flies):

Or sleeping:

PS: You can find the recipe for the cookies here. I lied about the peanut butter.


Sheepish Annie said...

Sounds like a fun time...but tiring! I hope that Emma is allowing you to rest. Poor kitty must have missed you dreadfully!

PurlingPirate said...

That is amazing! I don't know if these people have an incredible determination or are just plain crazy! Maybe both? ;)

thanks for the recipe! I bet I can add peanut butter to them!

Mia said...

They are nuts. And isn't it funny how hot it has been and no this week it is turning out to be a bit on the cool side? It feels nice out during the night. Now if we could just get some rain....

And there are plenty of creatures out of night. You just need to know where to look for them.

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