Groovy Girls Go……Leading the Way

If anyone would have told me just how difficult the Lead Vehicle volunteer position was going to be, I’d never have believed them.  But, I’m here to attest that being in the lead may also leave you hanging out.

 

Fall marathons will often use the moon as a spotlight and the stars for glitter as they are likely to start under the cloak of dark.  The spark of the gun lights the send off of the stampede and even though we’re out in front, the driver of the vehicle I’m in floors it and we’re off.

I see the glint of the accompanying bike to the hand-held cyclist before I actually see the athlete.  He’s so low to the ground and my eyes need a minute to adjust for the job they’ll be focused in on for the next hour.  I’m very familiar with the course and immediately get caught up in the energy of the competitors and the course that not only this elite athlete will travel but so many of my runner friends as well and I’m giddy with excitement.

I’m a runner who is literally hours behind the lead cyclist so this was an excitedly new component to the marathon experience and things were rolling along smoothly for the first 8 miles.  The corners were a little tight around the border crossing boothes, but I stayed alert, called out when he was through and the miles clicked off.

I’m a runner who is literally hours behind the lead cyclist so this was an excitedly  new component to the marathon experience and things were rolling along smoothly for the first 8 miles.  The corners were a little tight around the border crossing boothes, but I stayed alert, called out when he was through and the miles clicked off.

I had been briefed in one of the practice, drive the course, nights that we may have to “corral” the hand cyclists to allow for more of the route to clear……this is where the story really begins!

One of the cyclists clearly missed the, “you need to stop” and passed right by and the next thing you kow we have a new leader (who will have his time adjusted) but nevertheless, my SUV has to take off because unless we are in front this guy may or may not be noticed, which may or may not be dangerous.  So, we squeal tires in order to get going and get around this hand cyclists and the next thing you know the lead hand cyclists starts coming up on us.  Well, there isn’t room for all of us and no room to pass, the chairs were getting too close to us and the absolute only thing to do was to plow down a hundred yards of cones so everyone could et some space for safety and passing.

Like I said, this is where things started getting WILD!

The tunnel was a bit hard to keep my eyes on the hand cyclist.  The SUV didn’t allow for much visibility….But that was nothing compared to when we came up on the 5K end runners and walkers.  I felt as if we were parting the seas.  It was loud, we were honking.  Some people were happily waving and cheering on the winner, other people were pissed and showing us the bird as if we were ruining their lifetime 5K PR time or something.  It was a scene that gives irrefutable evidence as to why ear buds should NEVER be allowed in races (especially if you’re in the back of the pack and the lead is coming up on you.)

Our guy was cruising and coming up on the truck fast at times.  I felt uneasy and almost scared when I couldn’t see him. He seemed to know what he was doing but at thirty miles an hour if there’s a wrong turn it could go wrong quickly.  A few times I found myself rolling down the window and sitting on the ledge because its the only way I could see him, especially on the river walk with all the turns.  

The only other time I was a bit nervous was the couple of times that there were cars wanting to cross the race route and our truck had to twice  “block” yes, I said “block” them from coming on to the road.  I didn’t really know we would possibly end up being a car shield for the cyclist, but apparently that was in the fine print.

The cyclist just kept cruising and he either thought I was nutz, or loved me for keeping him from getting squished.  I’ll probably never know as he wheeled right on past us as we never existed as he crossed to win and we pulled off, just like the roll of a good pacer, we were unnoticed and faded into the side streets.  And so, we led the way, until we didn’t anymore and that’s just what we were supposed to do….safely lead the way.

Groovy Girls Go……Leading the Way,

Kacey

 

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