Volunteering LEGENDS TRAIL 2017, hell of a job!
Are you racing Legends again this, is a frequent question I had to answer. Racing it in 2016 had such an impact on me, that it took me 10 months to start thinking about racing it again somewhere in the future. Nevertheless I really wanted to be part of the Legends Trail in 2017, so I volunteered. In this way I could help and motivate my friend Maarten Schön and all the other participants.
Friday 6:00 p.m. the racers took off to become a LEGEND and most of the volunteers went to the Headquarter (HQ) for a meal and a Chouffe. My shift started at midnight, so I could relax and stare at the dots moving slowly on the map. I thought my checkpoint (CP) would be more or less arranged by arriving there, but Clint started to ask me questions about dropbags, food and other materials. Coordinating CP1 clearly started at the moment. Blankets for the poor cold racers, Chouffe for the hardworking volunteers, food for both and many more. Luckily I didn’t had to arrange the medical stuff, they were operating independently. The kitchen prepared all the food in the HQ, so we only had to warm it up.
Around midnight Neil Harris and I arrived at checkpoint 1 together with a bunch of volunteers being assigned for the medical team, safety teams and logistic manners. Geert de Wit (2016 Legend) was part of the medical team, just like me, he knew what to expect. Everyone helped rearranging the location to make it a decent CP. Neil took care of the kitchen, Karmen would help the racers with their needs and I was the doorkeeper, checking in and out all the racers. Besides that, the medical team had a kind of same strategy to check all the racers and help them if necessary. The dots were coming closer and closer and at 2:45 a.m. the first 5 arrived. Vivid group a racers, with 3 Legends and 2 possible Legends. Teun Geurts was the first on his way again after 37 minutes. The night slowly ended and the number of racers was slowly decreasing. When we closed CP1, already 11 racers were tagged as DNF.
Back at HQ, I was shortly debriefed by the Safety Team, took a Chouffe and went to bed. A good 5 hours later I was fresh enough to start starring dots again and have a good lunch. In the afternoon I started to check all sort of things for CP4. Who has the key? Where are the dropbags of the first racers? What kind of food can we take with us? When shall we go there? Who’s coming with me? Which racers are still racing? Are there blankets? Chouffe, cola, water? The logistic of this CP is much harder as the last runners still have to enter CP3 and the frontrunners are close to CP4.
Saturday 11:30 p.m. Neil and I arrive at CP4, together with Geert and Hennie for the medical stuff. We unpack and lay down for the long shift to come. All kind of materials and volunteers arriving during the next hours, so sleeping time is reduced to 3 hours. I’m kind of nervous and excited anyway, and start arranging the CP. Medical team in a separated room, mattresses left, tables and chairs right, dropbags arranged by race position. Neil is totally ready in the kitchen, so everyone is waiting and starring dots again. I make an announcement that no racer is allowed to DNF at this CP. We bring them in, pamper them, fix them and kick them out!
Finally, the first runners come in. Same 4 racers as at CP1, only Jordy DNF-ed somewhere on the course. The frontrunners are a bit tired (strange right? after 200k and two nights without sleep) but still work through the CP efficiently. Again Teun Geurts leaves the building first, 15 minutes later Benny Keuppens and Yvo Steyaert start to pursue him and another 15 minutes later Joris Jacobs. Slowly the other racers are welcomed and treated like celebs. I’m constantly walking around and having phone calls with HQ for all kind of things. Neil is fully in charge of the kitchen and constantly busy. Everyone is helping where necessary to help and fix the racers, truly amazing! In between racers, we relax and start thinking about a nice warm welcome for my buddy Maarten.
In 2016 he dropped out at CP3 and fixed me and kicked me out of CP4 so I could finish. This year it’s my duty to kick him out of CP4. At 2:30 p.m. Maarten, Ken and Martino arrive at CP4. They look great! It won’t be a problem to put them on the course again. They already know they are going to finish and set the goal on leaving CP4 at 4:00 p.m. We help them, fix them, feed them. They eat, drink, arrange there race vests and rest with smiles on their faces. I can already feel and imagine their euphoria at the finish! 4:00 p.m. they leave, on their way to become Legends…..
I check the dots and realize what is coming. Rush hour at my CP! I inform Neil, Geert and his team that at a certain moment 15 racers can by at the CP at the same time. Everyone is working hard to provide the racers with as much attention as possible and around 5:30 p.m. Neil and I conclude that we did a good job. Now we are waiting for the last racers to come in. No matter how they are, we are going to do anything necessary to fix them and kick them out of the CP half an hour before cut off.
These racers will be on the course for the most hours of all racers and might be seriously exhausted. Rinus Holvoet is in pretty bad conditions when he enters the CP. The medical team wraps him in blankets and tries to loosen his leg muscles. Allan Rubles walks in and looks fine actually. He sounds a little demotivated, but that might be English humor. After a while he is making jokes and enjoys tea with milk. Dennis Stoutjesdijk and Harold Bosman are the last racers to enter the CP. They want to sleep for an hour but are only given 30 minutes. They are tired, but not exhausted. We help the last 4 runners on their feet for the last section and kick them out of CP4.
Mission accomplished! No DNF’s @CP4 and all of them will finish!
We clean up, put all things in cars and drive back to HQ. I’m so tired, but also excited to welcome the finishers. At HQ no time to sleep, but time enough for some Chouffe. Taste is great, but feeling kind of drunk within an hour. Every now and then we all go outside to welcome a single or group of new Legends, it’s great to meet them. Monday at 2:35 a.m. my buddy Maarten Schön, Ken Rottiers and Martino Corneillie, arrive at the finish! Finally they can call themselves LEGENDS.
More Legends are born that night, like Francois Flisijn and Sarah Johnson, who both had some unfinished business from last year. I manage to stay awake till 6:00 a.m. before I almost fall asleep while walking around.
I totally loved being a volunteer at the Legends Trail 2017. Such a nice group a warm people working together to create an incomparable event! All racers and volunteers, Stef & Tim, thank you for the memorable weekend!
Funny thing, on Monday I heart my phone ringing all day, but it didn’t. Lack of sleep in combination with important phone calls at CP4 might be responsible for that.