Record crowds, a sprinkling of good luck, a fond farewell, and a guy named Mike: The RFTLOI 2013 Race Long Narrative
The 4th edition of the Run for the Luck of It! 5K/7-Mile has come and gone. March has come and gone. Boy, time sure does fly when you’re in full blown race mode. I can’t believe it’s April and it’s time to get registered for the many upcoming spring races: Superfun(d) 5K/10K, Montana Made Run, The YMCA Riverbank Run, and the Pengelly Double and Single Dip, just to name a few. It seems like eons ago since over 900(!) eager runners, run-walkers, and walkers donned the green and took over Pine Street and the west- and northside neighborhoods of Missoula. That’s right, we saw another record number of participants this year in all events, including the lively kids’ dash where over 50 kids dashed around the bus depot under the careful guidance of UM student volunteer Shayne Bryan (thanks, Shayne!). Shayne made me chuckle when she told me after the races were over that she expected the kids to be kinda slow and was surprised when they went sprinting full-speed down Pine, jolting her into motion. Sounds like Missoula is growing a strong crop of future runners!
Our Kids’ Dash volunteer, Shayne, was just one of dozens whom we could not have survived without. It’s truly the volunteers who make this event actually happen, because last I heard, cloning humans has not been approved by the FDA, therefore I can’t be cloned and stationed in 50 different places at once. I wish I could name every single person who devoted either part of their Friday or Saturday to ensuring the success of this event, but I’m pretty terrible at remembering names. Just know that I appreciate each and every single one of you. I will, however, highlight a few folks I had the pleasure of working with this year:
Joe Thoreson did a great job convincing prior year volunteers to come back again this year and hunting up new ones. He was our volunteer whisperer. John Pilsworth, an RD himself, keeps coming back each year for more abuse. He helped with set up, then course marshaled, and then swept the 7-Mile course! After the race, he let us violate his beautiful VW camper van by filling it with nasty, leaky garbage bags which he then disposed of with just one helper. I said I would help him dispose of the garbage, but then got distracted and didn’t meet him at the dumpster. Upon arrival back to the parking lot (where post-race festivities were held), he was smiling and asking what else he could do. John, you’re the bomb! The University of Montana Soccer team sent 27 women and their coaches to take on course marshaling. They showed up early, were in good spirits and eager to get to work. From what I heard, they did an awesome job directing traffic and encouraging runners with cheers and lots of enthusiasm. People have told me I better get them back next year! The UM Army ROTC also sends cadets each year to course marshal and sweep the course; two of the cadets, using their own truck, followed the last 5K walkers until the very end, picking up signage and any garbage along the way. Finally, early race-day morning, just as the sun was rising, this guy who seemed to appear out of nowhere approached me in the parking lot and said he was there to help with set up. He introduced himself as Mike. As far as I could remember, I had never met Mike before, but I sure am glad I did that morning as he pretty much solved all of my set up problems. After helping unload gear and supplies and waiting through a lull when the tent was being set up, I proceeded to bombard Mike with one task after another: Hey, Mike, do you know how to connect these propane tanks to the burners to keep the soup hot? My pathetic attempt had failed. Mike got it done. Hey Mike, can you light the propane burners using this tiny, pink lighter I bummed from a Sean Kelly’s employee? I forgot one of those long-stemmed lighters; you know the kind that makes it a lot safer to light things on fire. But Mike figured out a way to safely light the burners without singeing his fingers. Hey Mike, can you help haul around super heavy kegs of beer and then figure out how to connect them to the dispensers, cuz I gotta attend to something else right now. Moments, and a good dousing of beer later, at Mike’s expense, the beer was flowing and ready for thirsty runners. Mike then proceeded to serve beer to participants and even stuck around to help with clean up! To Mike, and all of our awesome volunteers: thank you for doing everything that was hastily thrown at you on race day.
Finally, this year was particularly bittersweet for me as it was the last year co-director Maggie Wescott would be by my side putting on the awesome event RFTLOI has grown into. Without Maggie’s dedication to this race these four years, I’m certain I would have gone crazy. We learned, together, how to be race directors, and had a lot fun doing it! Sure there were learning and growing pains, but in the end, we were always laughing and having a good time. Maggie and her family have decided to move to the flatlands of Minnesota (sorry, had to rub it in) to be closer to her family. While the grown-up side of me is happy for her, the selfish, child-like side of me is immensely saddened. Our relationship goes far beyond race directing, yet in a way, it’s what brought us closer together and soldered our friendship. After being work friends for close to a year and knowing she was into the whole running thing, I convinced her to take on putting on a new St. Patrick’s Day race with me for RWM. Never for a moment have I regretted that decision to rope Maggie into the clutches of race directing with me. We were a good, complimentary team, each taking on the necessary tasks that suited us best, and collaboratively got the job done each year. Maggie, you will be sorely missed, not just as the co-RD, but as a staple in my everyday life.
Thank you to everyone who came out, in spite of a little early morning sprinkling; by race start, the sun was breaking through the clouds – showing the rain whose boss. We hope you had as much fun participating as we had putting on this event; it is truly a joy watching the RFTLOI grow each year. Next year, just as our announcer (and runner) extraordinaire, Tony Banovich, stated, we would like to reach 1,000 participants for our 5-year anniversary. So to all of you who came out this year, we hope to see you again in 2014 and we hope you bring even more friends and family with to help us reach our goal!
A special thank you to all of our sponsors and donors for their generous contributions, without which this event would not be what it is:
Sean Kelly’s, Anderson ZurMeuhlen, Valley Physical Therapy, Jason Olsen Family Dental, Pepsi, Runner’s Edge, Garlington, Lohn, and Robinson, Missoula Brewing Company, Exact Image, and Mountain Broadcasting
Jen von Sehlen, Co-Race Director