The devil may be in the details but the love must be in the numbers. Here are some I’ll throw out at you: 20×24, 7AM, R3, 1,000, 5, 24, 3, 8.4 18 , 3rd, 3oz, 6…. The event is the 20×24 Back on my Feet (BOMF) Challenge.
It’s an ultra running event with individual runners and relay teams and 2 smaller associated runs.The individual runners — the lone rangers– do as many 8.4 mile laps around the Schuylkill River drives as they can in 24 hours. In the end the male and female winners would do 154.7 and135.2 miles respectively. But more near and dear to the collective FBR heart is the 3rd place! Gold Relay Team named Riff Raff. In running order the team was comprised of John Encarnacion, Justin Relkin, Tim Patton, Johanna Heskamp-Goode and Kristin Harkins. They each ran 3 laps some in the rain some in the hot sun and some in the wee hours but all of them in anticipation of mile 6 where they would greeted by their fellow FBR runners who were manning food station R3. Silver Relay Team TuTu Fast! also came blazing through with their brightly colored tutus. Team included Elizabeth Coleman, Erin Broadhurst, Matt Stanley, Michelle Nettleton, Liz Pagonis, and pacer Todd Euston.
Anthony LoCicero, wearing little more than a sticker that said “staff”, a walkie-talkie and a FBR shirt, arrived at 7 AM and executed a binder full of instructions for setting up the food sta
tion that would nourish and comfort the nearly 1,000 runners (and not get shut down by the Health Dept). Anthony, a fan of the BOMF mission, took this on even before 5 of his fellow Fishtown Beer runners decided to form a relay team. He put out the word to the FBR community to sign up for 4 hour shifts and about 20 of us signed up for a time slot or two. There were no provisions in that manual for the keg that Tim Patton aka St Benjamin Brewery sent for the volunteers. But we made do and kept it iced in time for the arrival of Ann Mahlum, founder and president of BOMF who thanked us on facebook for our “fun station”. She came through with her boyfriend who had 2-(3oz) cups of the brew. I’m sure he had the same thought as I did, “why are these cups so small?”.
If you’ve never manned an aid station at a run, it can be chaotic keeping the table stocked and handing off liquids to people on the move. But I think we handled it with grace and aplomb even while being barked at by zombie lone rangers wanting soda or potatoes or something different than what they had been eating for the past 24 hours. I don’t know, I could eat those Wegman’s macaroons forever. And who could resist cute as pie Sophia, Suzanne Allaire’s daughter. Not only was she a great help filling cups and setting up nap tents but when she was in line handing out drinks all the runners gravitated toward her. Girl, you deserved that bag of m&ms.
Like a lot of my fellowvolunteers I stayed longer than my 4 hour shift and I stayed long enough to see the whole the relay team pass through. The first person I saw was Tim who was a blur, said a
quick hello and kept on going. Then came Johanna who looked strong and not at all like she had just put in 6 miles in challenging weather conditions. After her was Kristen who was wearing the handcrafted team shirt that gave her very colorful arms and declared that maybe they should not have used markers. Before long came the ever speedy John E. and finally Justin who stayed long enough to do a magic trick for Sophia.
Jane Miloradovich and I have done the midnight madness loop (1 lap at midnight wearing all things glowy) for the past few years. It’s a blast. We were joined this year by Kirsty Halliday who decided mid-volunteer shift that it sounded like fun. I don’t think she was disappointed. My only complaint was being denied a beer by Anthony as we ran through. Running the drives, parts of which are completely dark, is a blast and I hope more of you will come with us next year. After the run, Jane and I hung out for
a bit a the station, re-hydrated with some St Benjamin Transcontinental, a steam or California comm
on type ale and of course macaroons. Anthony went down for a well deserved nap and by that ti
me many of the runners didn’t want any of the snacks so I started offering free hugs. To Johanna, wh
o got inspiration during her 3AM 3rd lap from a man wearing a tutu, I say to you one is never too sweaty for a hug!
If i may speak for my fellow volunteers: Allison Bishop, Carolyn Redmond, Christina George, Cristine Velazco, Dave Maver, David April, Donna Searer, Jane Miloradovich, Joey Logan, Katie Young, Kirsty Halliday, Len DeProspo, Loren Thomas, Meghan Thomas, Michelle Linton, Mike Searer, Susan Clifford, Suzanne Allaire (and anyone i may have missed) I want give a big shout out to Anthony for making a 24 hour commitment to a job that he didn’t know included restocking port o pots (thanks Donna), passing Health inspections and massaging frozen GU (ask him about it). It was great to work with all of you, an honor to support BOMF, an organization like no other I know, and fun to support so many people that ventured out into the unknown and did more than they ever have before. I asked Tim the next day how he felt and he said “accomplished”. Congratulations to all of you, runners and volunteers alike –come see me for a hug if you missed out.