I found myself with my lovely girlfriend at the Muir Woods Aids Station this past Saturday morning. It was as if I dreamt I woke up in Manila in a tub full of ice, holding a note that said "call 911". But I still had my kidneys. I was a volunteer.
Yes, I had departed my usual haunts in the roiling glittery mecca of sin and decadence of Los Angeles, known affectionately as "The Great Satan", and made his annual penetration to the Dark Heart of Northern California Ultrarunning. I was prepared. I had brought my 'Barney' hand-puppet, complete with bib number 69 from a previous Quad Dipsea.
Slowly our team assembled. Suzanne Williams, the Aid Station Sumprema bent us to our tasks. Ms Leslie Sowle, Professor Liz Boyd, Suzanne Williams, and Yrs Truly, Mr Trail Safety. Mo Bartley, erstwhile Goddess of Cool had other plans, presumably involving rotation of air in tires, and was unable to join us. We were a fine blend of wizened experience and fresh, raw talent.
Ms Kerry was our ultra-neophyte. She had spoken to the Tropical Himself and he had assigned her to us. He has a dark sense of humour. So does Tropical. She was going to get a real fine education. Something about fragile eggshell minds.
The early morning was still. The thundering herd had just left Mill Valley. They would be upon us shortly. Oh yes, the runners. They arrived in lemming bursts.Barney greeted them, some by name, others in a manner that was comic. At least to Barney. Something about a purple fuzzy hand-puppet reading the Miranda to folks is amusing. At least the National Park Service policeman thought so. He declined to stay after viewing the permit.
Once the crowds subsided, I requested permission to reconnoiter the course. Permission was swiftly granted as they looked forward to a quiet mid-morning. Barney was given his Grade-B Laudanum tincture, and retired to the trunk of the car. And thus, Mr Trail Safety rode the snake to the sea.
It was Volunteer VisionKwest® like none other. I passed thru Cardiac like a Hot Powerbar thru a goat. I was passed by several, including Mr Casino Bingo. I labored to stay with him, but he dropped me like a cheap coat. He kept his visions to himself.
At Stinson Beach the estimable Kap'n Kirk held things in fine array there. His sigmoidascopal placebo-placeholder was in easy reach, and found few takers. Something about that hickory handle is daunting. Nobody stayed long, there were no homesteaders in the chairs.
An ancient tune played over the gathering, one from a century long gone, and had this haunting refrain: "And I, am comfortablie numbe". I remembered this from ancient plainsong, as a work by Pinke Floyde.
Taking my leave of these magnificent Volunteers Like None Other, I made my way back to my post, returning whence I came. I passed many doe-eyed eco-femmes of Marin County, hungry for the knowledge that their free-range lives satisfied not. It was grist for future bandwidth. Come on down Zuma Beach, I'll make you the world's biggest star.
Oh yes. Upon my return there were swarms of happy faces that were eager and champing at the bit to run up the last hill, so they could lean forward and run down the last steps as fast as possible. I kid thee not.
As the day closed, Could I hear the cheery pop-pop-pop as the sweeps shot the stragglers in the lingering autumnal twilight? Of course not! That was at the High-Voltage 100-Mile Perimeter. Volunteers made the difference there too, but that was another day, another dollar pancake. It was all part of this majestic tapestry of helping hands that make this sport what it is. Gosh.
bone regards, Mr Trail Safety