No, I did not actually run a race. Rather, I spent the morning volunteering at the awesome High Cloud Snapple Half Marathon with other members of the 2011 Dream Team. Here’s a version of the report I wrote for the High Cloud blog:
High Cloud’s first big event of the year was the High Cloud Snapple Half Marathon on Saturday, Jan. 29 in Carderock, Md. High Cloud supporters and the 2011 Dream Team were out in full force, doing everything from runner check-in and staffing the finish line to race photography and bike support, with the help of other great volunteers. We arrived at 7:30am to set up and run both Base Camp – the start/finish area – and on-course needs. It was the first time many of us had met, and I really enjoyed getting to know the people I’ll be spending many hours with over the next year.
The race was 13.1 miles out and back on the C&O Canal towpath starting at the Carderock Recreation Center. Despite several inches of snow lingering from the D.C.-area storms just days earlier and freezing temperatures, more than 200 runners showed up and checked in for the race. Dream Team members worked together to hand out numbers, timing chips and T-shirts. There were a few frozen fingers at the end of check-in, including mine, as it’s pretty hard to flip through registration pages and race numbers with thick gloves! Most of the runners got some Starbucks coffee or hot chocolate and headed back to their cars to stay warm while waiting for the start.
Once the race began at 9am, Base Camp volunteers took a few minutes to warm up in heated cars (a very welcome escape from the cold) and then started setting up the finish line and post-race food and restocking aid stations. A few people made a trip to a nearby Starbucks for more hot water and coffee, while others — myself included — carried supplies out to the course. It was fun to see the runners out there and to get a little bit of a feel for what they were going through (and be glad it wasn’t you!). Cold, slippery, snowy, you get the picture. Not ideal race conditions but definitely a challenge. A little more than an hour later, we heard that the first runner was closing in, so most volunteers headed over to see competitors cross the finish line.
Runners were greeted at the end of the race with cheering Dream Team members and spectators, a High Cloud Snapple Half Marathon medal and a buffet of potato leek soup, Einstein Bros. bagels, bananas, Wheaties and plenty of Snapple tea. Many came in with sore ankles and icy eyebrows, a true testament to how cold and snow-covered the course was. It was an impressive performance by all, especially given the tough conditions. A number of runners stuck around for the awards ceremony held at the finish festival, taking advantage of the post-race goodies before heading home to get warm.
Definitely noteworthy was the support from the Dream Team, High Cloud founders Matt and Adriana and the amazing organizations and volunteers who braved the cold to make sure the race went smoothly. Marathon Charity Cooperative provided timing and other support, the DC Tri Club brought out a number of volunteers, and the Snapple Tri Team, Crossfit Sweat of Springfield and the DC Capital Striders Running Club stocked the aid stations. Pirates Booty came out with goodies for the runners, while Bethesda’s RiRa provided the popular hot potato leek soup at the finish and hosted the post-race party. Runners provided a lot of positive feedback about how smoothly the race was run
All in all, the race was a huge success, raising over $6,000 to install a new water tank at High Cloud’s Kimuka School in Kenya, support microfinance programs and hire new teachers. It was also a great chance for new Dream Team members to meet each other and those who have been with High Cloud for a long time. When we arrived we jumped right in with set-up and check-in responsibilities, but after the runners took off, we had some time to get to know one another. As with any group of athletes meeting for the first time, we talked a lot about the upcoming season and our racing and training plans, but by the end of the event we’d already made great connections and now have a lot to look forward to!