A View from the Sidelines

Wildwood Trail

All the runners at the start of the Wildwood Trail run. They won’t look so clean and dry after the next 30 miles.

Things have been a little off in the Urbanski household lately, as I have been injured with stress-fracture like pain since the marathon in the Netherlands, so I’m taking time off and missing quite a bit of the summer racing and training that we’ve scheduled. The upside to my injury is that I’m able to be the support crew for Matt’s training runs and the Leadville 100 miler, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself as I see all the runners go by and wish I was out there.

This weekend was my first opportunity to practice as support crew in preparation for the Leadville 100 miler in August, and I supported Matt and 6 other runners along the 30 mile Wildwood Trail in Portland, Oregon. Aside from being bummed about being injured, I was really looking forward to this run to practice driving from point to point in order to aid Matt and other runners along the way. It’s a lot more pressure than I thought! We knew the run would be fun before we had even begun, and it proved to be that and more because of all the people that showed up to run either the entire trail or different legs. Up until the day before, we thought it would be just Matt and our friend Steve, so I came armed with magazines and books to read in between the aid stations, and what do you know, East County delivered and we showed up “race” morning with 7 runners, including Matt and Steve.

After all piling in our car and driving to the start of the trail, everyone did the pre-race routine of going to the bathroom (in the woods, unfortunately for some), duct taping the nipples (for the men), and rubbing Body Glide wherever chafing could occur. A runner’s bag of ammo is actually quite interesting when you get past the Powerbars and Gatorade and get to the baby wipes, duct tape and Body Glide. Once Matt, Alex, Steve and Riley took off, myself and two other runners, Eric and Kat, hopped in the car to get to the 5.5 mile marker. I felt rushed getting there, feeling nervous about missing them, but had plenty of time to hang out once we arrived. They came in after about 55 minutes, looking happy and energized, and they quickly refueled on water, Gatorade and food. Riley joined me in the car while Eric and Kat joined the other three for the next 15 mile leg.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a good meeting point for 15 miles along the trail. I could have hiked in about a third of a mile, but would have had to carry lots of stuff, so we opted to just make it a long section for the runners. Riley took a nap in the car while I took a walk on the trail, and the two plus hours went by fast. The four runners were about a minute ahead of Steve, but otherwise they all came in looking happy and ready for refueling. Alex, who was iffy about doing the entire distance at the start, had decided to go for the whole thing with Matt and Steve. After quickly eating peanut butter and raisin-filled, whole wheat tortillas, Matt was ready to go. Steve filled his newly-tested Camelback with a half gallon of Gatorade, and Alex hammered a PB&J and chips before taking off again. Riley joined the guys once again and Eric and Kat joined me in the car.

The next stopping point was just 5 miles later, and was the easiest 5 miles on the trail, so the guys came in even earlier than we expected into the 25 mile marker just 40 minutes later. Steve again came in about a minute behind the guys, but that section ended with a tough climb of about a quarter mile. They were in better spirits than the last aid station, as the section had been a gentle downhill for most of the time, and they knew they had just 5 miles left. There was some hesitation in their voices about nearly being done, as they all knew they had a good climb up to Pittock Mansion before the much anticipated finish at the zoo. Riley joined Eric, Kat and I in the car and we all drove to the finish, excited to see them coming in for the last time.

There was a little confusions as to where the exact finish was, which was frustrating after the entire morning had gone so well with directions, but we eventually agreed on a point we were sure was the finish. Had we looked up into the tree we were standing next to, we would have seen the zero mile marker, which we later found once they ran into the finish. Matt and Alex came in first, letting out cheers of joy and still looking fresh, considering the miles, and Steve came in shortly after. Another friend, Jonathan Parsons, came out to run the final three miles with the guys, so he helped bring them in. It was an exciting moment for everyone to finish this “race” we had put together, especially since it went well for everyone involved.

Matt seems to have a knack for coming up with adventure ideas, I have the knack for figuring out how to implement them, and we somehow get lucky enough for our friends to join us in those adventures. A huge thanks to all those that showed up Sunday morning, ready to run, to have fun, or at the very least, put in a good effort to earn the mac n’ cheese that we later consumed at Montage. You know who you are, but just in case you forgot, thank you to Steve Woodley and Alex Asai for joining Matt the entire way, Eric Dolezal and Kat Mueller for running 15 miles and spending time with Julie for the remainder, Riley Eoff for using his precious vacation time from the Marines to spend nearly half his Sunday with us, and to Jonathan Parsons for finishing up the run with the guys and coming out to see us.

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