Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stevens Creek 50K 2017: on the other side of the lens again!

I used to love to do the Stevens Creek double this last weekend of September but I had to let go over the past years, the main reason being that I love speed and, for some reasons, I can't run a 10K at my best after racing a 50K hard the previous day; isn't it hard to age...? ;-)

After running (and winning!) the event 3 consecutive times in 2011, 2012 and 2013, it's good to give back and volunteer. As a matter of fact, since I switched from the Stevens Creek Striders to the Quicksilver Club, helping here is a no brainer since our club man the Saratoga Gap aid station, barely returning the favor which the Striders do to our club by manning an aid station at our Quicksilver 50K and 100K races in May. Why do I say barely? Because our shift is half of the Striders' one on race day, 5 hours versus 10 or more hours.
I actually volunteered earlier in 2008 when the race was still directed by its founder, Steve Patt, who transitioned the management to the Striders a few years ago, allowing him to run his own creation now! Aid station at Rapley Ranch, then sweeping the last 7 miles. Here is Steve Patt, Emeritus RD:

While I joined my club mates in 2015, I skipped last year (volunteering and running Trailblazer) because I was trying to heal a sesamoiditis after running the 24-hour US Nationals earlier that month (and resting for 7 weeks ending up being the successful cure!).

Long story short, we had a great team of volunteers to help our sister club and the 60 or so participants in the 30 and 50K this Saturday.
And we did need these extra hands as the Striders asked us to man an additional water-only station, 1.7 miles from the Saratoga Gap main aid station, a mini station through which the runners will run twice at mile 9 and 12.4.
Knowing that they had also added two other water-only aid stations, the first one at mile 5, Grizzly Flat (it's great to remember that we had bears in these hills a few decades ago), and mile 16.5 (Portola), I wasn't expecting runners to even blink and stop by our table but, on the contrary, most of them did refill bottles, at least on their first passage.

That kept Malinda and I busy for 3 hours, although my main job ended up to take pictures of the runners and give them indications of the direction and mileage ahead, as the second purpose of this water stop was to orient participants through this convoluted and confusing 5-way trail intersection.

The way in (yellow flags):
The second way out (pink flags):
I'm sorry I just had an old point and touch camera with me as the result is pretty poor given the tricky lightning. But, for the sake of showing I did shoot like a cowboy (we had a Western theme), here is the raw result, got almost everybody (except maybe the top 2 runners who caught us by surprise, flying through the aid station really fast). See this Picassa album, and please refer your friends to this blog post! (Click on the collage below to go to the album.)
Was great to see many familiar faces enjoying this low key even but challenging course. By the way, the weather was ideal for amazing performances, very clear sky and views, cool temperature, even on the chilly side for us immobile on the side line. Looking forward to seeing the results tonight or tomorrow!

I'll leave it to the runners to thank the organizers of this event, let me thank our volunteers, starting with Stuart who organized our crew before running the race himself, David who hauled the aid station gear from and back to the race headquarters, Emilee, Amy and Jeremy, the three of them bringing extra young hands to handle the task, Yoshihiro, and Malinda again who stayed with me at our satellite station. Way to represent Quicksilver, team!

Tomorrow is only a 10K race (I hear you saying "phew, what's that?") but it comes with it's own type of apprehension for me, for instance how many sub 6-min miles I'll be able to run. I'd better keep in mind that this isn't even fast when the lead runners will clock all their miles under 5 minutes at the Berlin Marathon tomorrow morning! Yes, doesn't need to understand the whole E=mc^2 equation to appreciate that speed is all relative... ;-) (And, also, that mass, speed and energy are definitely related.)

More running news tomorrow then, still in the Stevens Creek theme since the Trailblazer 10K is organized by the Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail, at the other end of the Stevens Creek Trail, lower on the Bay side (in Mountain View).


Unknown said...

Y'all were awesome as usual. Thanks for being out there and for the photos. <3 MDH

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks Jean P, it was great seeing you on trails. I was thinking a bit about you being already near the finish line, when i found you volunteering at water station & taking pic. It boosted me a big way.
Kudos to you my friend. you inspire so many people like me. keep running and hope to flying/wining races again.

-Satpal Dalal