Hawk 50-Mile & Marathon Race Director’s Report
A few hours into the Hawk 50-Mile & Marathon Trail Runs, May 22 on the Clinton Lake North Shore Trails in Lawrence, Kan., our official timer and honorary co-race director Tony “Marine Hawk” Clark says, “Gary, everything’s going pretty smoothly.”
“That’s what worries me,” says I. Then I quote Tony a line from an old Grateful Dead song – “When life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door.”
My cell phone buzzes. It’s Willie Lambert, the West Park Road aid station captain. Willie’s also the owner of the Great Plains Running Company in Topeka, a terrific store for trail and ultrarunners, and a race sponsor.
And, like Tony, a pretty good ultrarunner.
He’s in his van, bringing in a wounded marathoner for treatment by our race nurse, Vicki Smith. He’d fallen and had too big a gash on his left shin for band aids.
“There’s some runners off-course on the road by Bunker Hill,” Willie reports. They missed the turn."
“How many?” I ask. About 10 is the answer. Evidently, two runners blew past the flagged turn, and the rest followed.
“I got them going right,” says Willie. “We might need a sign out there, along with the flags.”
I drive out in my red truck with a big LEFT TURN sign, and cheer the runners going up and coming down Bunker Hill. They look like they’re having a good time, nearly 12 miles into the run.
On my way back, I see a beat-up black Camaro has gone off the road, slid down the embankment and is squarely on our course trails. Our two traffic directors at that spot, Tammy Nightengale Hawk” Lupton and Kristin “Aqua Hawk” Kirabassi are looking at it in surprise. Tammy says she thinks the guy is drunk.
I park, go down, and try to help the guy get his car up the embankment, but it’s no use. The rain has made the embankment too slippery and he slides every which way except up and back on to the road
He says he was trying to make a u-turn, but went too wide and slid down the embankment.
A county sheriff arrives, so I figure things are under control and leave. I heard later from Tammy and Kristin that the driver called a friend with a tow rope who got him out.
The slippery embankment wasn’t the only problem last week’s two-day deluge of rain caused.
My cell phone buzzes. It’s Christy “Hawk Mama” Craig, Lands End aid station co-captain.
“Gary, the runners are reporting the water is chest-high on the red trail,” Christy reports. She tells me Levi “Smilin’ Hawk” Bowles is going down to check it out, and that he’ll call me with a report.
I don’t wait. Tony and I checked the trail Friday night and it was ok, but the lake was still rising as water continued to drain into it. I drive to Campground One, to put “Plan B” into effect – closing off the shoreline trail, and rerouting the course onto the blue-blazed forest trail that parallels it.
Levi calls as I start marking the new course. A runner passes me. “Just follow the blue blazes to the Lands End aid station," I call out.
“There’s a runner in the water,” Levi reports. “A wave just smashed into her!” There’s some pretty strong wind gusts ruffling the lake, evidently. “Omigosh she’s down!”
“Well, go help her Levi, and call me back,” I say.
“Right!” says Levi, and I disconnect and keep marking.
The phone buzzes. It’s Levi. “She’s ok,” he says breathlessly. A few minutes later he comes up from the Lake and helps me finish marking the trail.
Water couldn’t drain into the lake fast enough. As result, Mud Creek, usually less than knee-high where it crosses the our course trails, is chest-high on me, and I’m 5’10”
Tony and I strung a hand-line across it the night before. It’s deeper race day. We had a volunteer down there, Dave Krushek, for most of the day. No one drowned in crossing, but they sure made faces.
I even did a shift down there watching the brave runners ford the creek. Saw a beaver swim lazily across the surface, and a snake go wriggling by. Didn’t tell the runners about the snake.
Got a couple shots of runners coming across, though Dick Ross of www.seekcrun.com was there earlier shooting away. Visit his website to see the excellent photos he took of our race, including the Mud Creek crossings.
While all this stuff happened, the race did go on. The runners splished, splashed and slogged through thick mud and standing water. They tore along dry sections of the trail, and puffed and panted up our two hills, Bunker Hill at 11 and 37 miles, and Sanders Mound, at 23 and 49 miles.
The woods were gorgeous with golden light slanting through the yellow-green forest canopy.
Brad “Pastor Hawk” Bishop, KCMO, took men’s honors in the 50-mile in a blistering (for our course) 8:53:26, and Laurie “Pixie Hawk” Euler, Lawrence, was the women’s champ in 12:47:16. It was Laurie’s first 50-miler, and Brad’s fourth.
In the marathon, Tim Hazlett, Lee’s Summit won first, in 5:01:10; and Kim Deckert, Topeka, 5:46:48, took home the ladies’ winner’s cup.
The fastest marathon time was posted by Dave “Speed Hawk” Wakefield, 4:20:45. Alas, Dave wasn’t eligible for marathon honors, since he started in the 50-mile, but opted for the marathon finish.
His course was the same as other marathoners, but because the 50-mile race started an hour earlier than the marathon, Dave ran in different, probably slightly cooler conditions.
Both Tim and second-place men’s marathoner Pat Perry, Lee’s Summit, said it was the hardest marathon they’d ever run. At 26.8 miles, technically, it was an ultra.
The 50 was pretty rugged too, evidently – with nine finishers of 23 starters. What’s the finishing percentage? I don’t want to know!
In the marathon, 26 of 36 started.
Full results will be posted soon, if not already, at http://www. Lawrencetrailhawks.com.
If we had a competition for volunteers, it would be hard to separate first from second.
Tony, our official timer, filled in for both me and Coleen while we handled various situations on the course. Tony’s the V.P. of the Kansas Ultrarunners Society, and graciously brought us a lot of supplies – tables, jugs and other equipment, including the tent for the start/finish aid station, and the all-important coffee urn for race HQ.
Aid Station captains – our runners can tell you how important they are.
Debbie “Wheat Hawk” Webster and Julie “Poops-a-lot Hawk” Toft at the Start/Finish aid station, ably assisted by Robert Bauman and Randy Albrecht – Randy is the RD for the Heartland 100 & 50-Mile ultramarathons.
Christy and Levi at Lands End, with the help of Dave Higgins, Beth “Inspiration Hawk” Hilt, Renee “Renanimal Hawk” Babin, Steve “Lunar Hawk” Breeding, and Kristin Whitehair.
Willie Lambert and his crew from Great Plains – including MK Johnson and Lee Crane.
Nick “Colo Hawk” Lang and his crew at Swim Beach – Colinda “Cat Hawk” Thompson, Eric Voeks, Elizabeth Hodges, and Nick Kellerman.
I know I’m leaving some fantastic aid station workers out – by all reports they treated our runners like the VIPS they are. The reports are coming in and they are all the kind that make RDs proud of their vols.
We had some great traffic directors too – Amy Oglesbee stood the watch at Marina Road ALL DAY to make sure runners went right. Amy is a military spouse. I think her husband could be proud of the way she stayed at her post.
Where the inbound and outbound trails run together, Kristin “Aqua Hawk” Tirabassi and Tammy “Nightengale Hawk” Lupton made sure that runners took the correct trail entrances – there were several to choose from. No runners were killed by cars sliding down the embankment from the road, for which I credit Tammy and Kristin. There was at least one sliding car that I know of.
At the Mud Creek water crossing, Dave Krishock patiently sat and made sure no one drowned. Wish him good luck – he’s entering the Vermont 100-miler this summer.
At race HQ Karen “Sassy Hawk” Collier did race day packet pickup and check-in with the help of volunteers Randy and Margy Rose – my next door neighbors as a matter of fact. Karen’s our treasurer and also took care of getting the marathon finishing and place awards.
They were designed by Justin “GNT Hawk” Henning.
Strictly speaking, Justin’s not a volunteer – he ran the marathon; his first. His longest run before that was eight miles. You watch…once the pain goes away, Justin will be thinking 50k and beyond.
Darin “Lincoln Hawk” Schenidewind was our “rover,” keeping all the aid stations resupplied with essentials like bread, ice and cookies.
Our sweep, Kurt Schueler, ran 21 miles of the course and brought in our last two 50-milers, safe and sound, through some very challenging conditions. I know, because I was along for the ride for the final section from Mud Creek in. Sometimes I thought we were in a mud creek the whole way!
After running, the most important part of a race is food! Our head chefs James “Skull Hawk” Barker and Karen “Hawk Who Walks” Henry (my spouse) served up burgers, including veggie; hot dogs; James’ gourmet beans, and other fabulous treats.
They were assisted by Rhonda Lyne, Sassy Hawk, Mary Ann “Squeaky Hawk” Frevert, Nicole Knowles, whose spouse John ran the marathon, and Vicki Smith, who did double duty as the race nurse. She had a few customers, too.
Did I leave out anyone? Hmmm…Oh yeah, Co-Race Director Coleen Voeks. She just did… EVERYTHING! Coleen was everywhere, figuring out staffing, fixing little glitches, checking on everything, on the trails cheering on runners, even typing up and sending out our race results.
That’s my report. It’s as long as one of my 100-mile race reports, because I was as tired and hungry after as if I’d done Ozark Trail or Leadville.
Not as stiff, though.