Midnight Water Crew to the Rescue! Volunteering for the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay

One of the things we'd set out to do when we began this whole traveling adventure was to volunteer as much as possible. That being said, we haven't spent near as much time volunteering as intended 🙁 Luckily, injuries and circumstance provided us one such opportunity to spend a little time giving back. At the end of last summer, I had the pleasure of running the Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon with some old and new friends. This same relay group decided that they were just crazy enough to do another 200 mile relay: The Ragnar Wasatch Back. Because my knee is still recovering from an ACL and meniscus tear from the ski season, I was unable to run the relay BUT… when asked to be honorary members and serve as volunteers for the team, Meisha and I jumped at the chance!  

Our assignment was to man a water station near Echo Reservoir outside of Henefer, UT from 8:30PM to 2:00AM. Having already experienced the chaos of running one of these monstrous relays, we were quite excited to see the action from the volunteers' perspective. Although the amount of chaos pales in comparison, we found ourselves amused at the complications of finding the specific spots to set up said stations, water spilling out from every crack of our supervisor's van, and the varied lack of a few supplies. It seems everyone is in a bit of a race against time during these relays 🙂

Curing our boredom by getting creative with the water cups. Can you see the Ragnar logo?

After the short bit of confusion we were finally at our station and left alone by the roadside to set up our table and begin filling water cups for runners. It was all a bit surreal as the sun faded and a nearly full moon rose to provide a calming luminescence to the scene. As the runners arrived we enjoyed just simply observing the action and making quick chit-chat to keep the mood light and happy for those who seemed in need of a lighter, happier mood. It was fun to watch the stream of runners' headlights bounce up the hill towards us, their silhouettes backlit by passing cars and clouds of dust undulating from their feet. We cured our boredom by snapping a few pictures and arranging our water cups to bear the Ragnar emblem in the middle - although it seemed not a single person noticed. Understandably so. During our time volunteering, we decided that living in our van may have made us some of the most prepared volunteers ever. We were able to provide bug repellent for those who needed it, made hot coffee to keep us warm and energized, and had all the necessary clothing, food and supplies to stay completely comfortable. Score one for van dwelling!

Capturing the action as a runner flies by us for his water break

Our shift ended a bit late at just before 3:00AM and surprisingly, we were full of energy and volunteering to pull another shift through the rest of the night if needed. They had all the help they needed, so we moved on the next runners' exchange in search of a place to sleep for the night. Upon pulling into the high school in Coalville, we found ourselves in van dwellers heaven: legitimate, quiet, no-effort, overnight parking! We enjoyed a quick bowl of ramen and soon drifted off into dreamy sleep land.

Morning came early as we found ourselves waking at 6AM being to only vehicle left in the school parking lot! We decided we'd best move along and figure out how to meet our relay team. The drive was absolutely gorgeous as we passed small, ritzy mountain towns and watched the rising sun cast it's glow upon the grazing cows and hilly pastures. We were eventually diverted to The Canyons Ski Resort, where spectators were expected to park and be shuttled in to Park City to cheer on the finishing teams (which is where I happen to be typing this now). At the moment, we have no actual idea where our team is and are working to try and communicate on a meeting point. Alas, for us van dwellers, sitting in a parking lot for hours on end is a part of normal life. I'm sure we'll survive 🙂

End of race update:  The team survived, we survived, and celebrated by tapping a keg and enjoying some great pizza from The Pie Hole.  All in all a great experience, but on the next relay, I will be running!

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