I personally love ‘race reports’ from the volunteer perspective. They really are an incredible and selfless breed. March on volunteers, we love you! A nice, brief account of this volunteers experience at the Elkhorns Endurance Run.
by Andrew Cupino
I have no race volunteer experience, but the Elkhorn Endurance Run was my first ultra, so it seemed appropriate to be my first volunteer experience as well. In the past two years I had run many a mile through the Elkhorns, so trekking into the Montana backcountry to pump creek water and slice watermelon struck me as a fun task. The trouble was, my wife was on the other side of the country visiting family, leaving me to wrangle two-year-old and five-year-old boys. Since I had previously hiked six miles back and 3,000 feet up to clear trail in preparation for the race, I expected backcountry babysitting to be manageable.
After purchasing all the required perishables and collecting the necessary equipment, race director Steve Engebrecht and the core of the Helena Ultra Runners League sorted everything for the appropriate aid stations and worked out the volunteer schedule to make sure runners never ran through an empty aid station.
My trip started the day before the race outside Jefferson City, Montana with a six-mile drive on unmaintained forest service road. After a brief escort for a ranger with a four-wheeler that wouldn’t start, a sidewall puncture requiring a tire change in the rain, and a detour to ask horseback riders for directions, we arrived at the site of the aid station. It turns out camping with small children is a breeze if they’re worn out. It probably helps that Montana summers mean nightfall and bedtime come well after 9 p.m.