Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cheering at the Hottest Half

Sunday, August 15, I made my way to a spot on White Rock Lake to spectate the Hottest Half Marathon and 10K.  I had previewed the map and was right at mile 2 as the runners were running by.  I clapped continuously as a very large crowd came by, everyone still looking strong.  But at only 2 miles in, I think a lot were worried about what the news had said the previous day was going to be the hottest day of the year, because as I cheered I was already getting responses of "Thanks, I need that." and the like.

By the time 10Kers were coming back at approximately mile 4 on this out-and-back course, our cheering group was a great size.  Heels and Hills Run Team member Veronica M. was there cheering her heart out.  Jeff S. had just spotted us during his short run and ended up staying to cheer, which was awesome.  Jose V. and his son Andrew came out to cheer and help out which was so valuable later when we all became part-time medical help, LOL, but I'll get to that.  And then there's Erik - poor Erik - who had an appendectomy 3 weeks ago and then a bad sinus infection earlier race week, but was smart and turned back several miles into the race, so stayed to cheer with us as his wife Michelle ran the half marathon.

There were quite a few people on the course in their Heels and Hills hot pink, which was so fun to see.

I had bought 20 lbs of ice and 3 1/2 lbs of gummy bears to serve half marathoners when they hit us again at about mile 11.  Well, the ice was a massive hit, and I don't think I realized how much each person in their desperation would take.  I could have easily gone through 100 lbs of ice!  So that went quickly.

But then people loved the gummy bears too. We got a few "I love you"s, which is funny.  And then when offered them, many would say "Sure, why not?"  This was hilarious given how hot everyone was. We could have said "Handgun?" and some runners looking for anything to get this done would have said, "Sure, why not?" without thinking.

It was so blazingly hot and that course has a lot of unshaded area, and runners started passing telling us to watch for a girl that looked bad and was weaving on course.  Then we saw a girl walking left and right across the whole trail approaching us. And then her knees buckled and she went down.  Jose did a great job attending to her. He wanted to elevate her feet and pulled off and stacked her running shoes to create that height - brilliant. He asked if we had anything to put under her head there in the grass so I ran to my car where I happened to have a big beach towel.  A few runners ran on to the next aid station to tell them to call the medical team.  While we waited, I soaked her headband in the last leftover melted ice and then luckily I had brought some water bottles (for myself to drink) which she ended up badly needing.

After about a half hour we were really wondering where the medical crew was.  I had a lightbulb and called Paula at our Heels and Hills tent at the finish line and told her exactly where we were (including address) and told her to track down finish line medical and send them immediately.  We were getting really worried as another guy had gone down and his eyes were rolling back in his head and he was losing consciousness.

Medical did come because of the call I made and attended to folks.  Shortly after that I was feeling a little overheated, especially having donated my own water to the dehydrated girl, and was supposed to meet out-of-town guests and my husband at brunch, so I sadly left before everyone finished.

Congrats to everyone who braved the heat and completed the event.  And equally awesome are those who realized they might be at risk and slowed down or chose not to finish because ultimately they needed to take care of their own health. Safety first, folks!


  1. Libby,

    I was one of the runners who ran ahead to try and get help. I am pretty sure that I recognize you from your picture. I have never been so scared in all my life to see that many runners going down, along with the dozens and dozens who were obviously struggling. When I got the next aid station, the volunteers there said that they had been provided no way to contact race officials. I never saw any support bikes, vehicles or personnel to flag down either. Not too much farther down the trail from the rest stop, two more runners had collapsed. One of them was right in front of me. I flagged down a bike patrol officer who said he would call for medical emergency support. I stayed with the runner until an ambulance arrived. By the time I got the last water station, they were already closing up shop and said that they couldn't get any further assistance from race officials for the runners either.

    At that point it was all that I could do to make it in to the finish. I looked for the RD at the finish but was told that he could not be located. I did speak with the race official who was handling the awards presentation though who could only say that they had been overwhelmed by amount of fluids and cups that the runners were taking out on course. That's pretty sad considering the timing, the promised conditions as well as the promised support for the event.

    If it weren't for you, and the other samaritans along the course, the Half field for sure wouldn't have made it in at all. You may not remember me but I asked for some ice to top off my carry bottle. You obliged and I gratefully told you that you were probably going to be saving the day for me by the end of the race. You did. And even better, I was able to bathe my distressed runner with the cool water until a fire rescue unit could be flagged over from the road.

    I have emailed the Mellew Productions RD but have not gotten a response. Thank you again on behalf of the other runners for your thoughtfulness, quick thinking, and cool headed support.

    Jim Austin
    Bib # 627

  2. Wow! Just shows we runners are a crazy, determined group of people! It is a good thing there are always great volunteers ready to help!

  3. Wow, that's crazy! Glad you were there, and I'm pretty shocked that there wasn't a lot of medical staff and fluids around - it was HOTHOTHOT that morning (I know, I was outside biking...)

  4. Libby, you are awesome for even standing out in that heat. I thank God that I made the decision to just slow down and walk most of the last third of the race. I didn't see as many collapse as you did, and I hope that's because the pack I was with was taking it pretty slow and spending the time to wait in line at the water fountains along the lake. I will say there was part of me that just wanted to push and get it over with, but I'm glad I made the wiser choice. Thankful you were there for those downed runners. Sad that there wasn't enough medical personnel (although I heard from EW that there were over 200 DNF, and I don't think any race plans for 10% of their race field needed significant medical attention). Conditions were harsh. Sorry I missed you at mile 11, but glad it was because I slowed down enough to cross the finish on my feet instead of in a stretcher. I have vowed to never race in the heat again without carrying my own fluids.

  5. Glad to hear you guys were able to help the runner that went down. Scary stuff! I was surprised by the lack of medical staff on the course and the lack of fluids. I didn't realize how many people went down and how bad it really was with the aid stations until I read race reports when I got home. It was definitely an interesting race and I'm glad I slowed down and took plenty of walk breaks. If I run this one again I will definitely take my own water bottle.

    And thanks for the gummy bears. I helped myself to a handful as I went by... but probably would have taken a handgun as well! :)

    I loved the cold blue towels at the finish line! That totally made my day! It would have been great to have out on the course as well! Looking forward to the Heels and Hills and Him Half in September!