Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Last Chance Saloon aka Rendija aid station

Walking into Rendija Canyon to set up the aid station 
This was around 7am race morning

This past Saturday was the annual Jemez Mountain Trails runs, a series of trail runs of a half marathon, a 50K and a 50 mile run through the Jemez Mountains mostly surrounding Los Alamos, but also going a bit further west into the Valles Caldera. A year ago Deb and I took on the captain duties of the final aid station, which comes at 2 miles from the finish. Due to the location and what is beforehand, this is a critical aid station and sometimes feels like a Mash Unit.

The prior aid station is the Guaje Ridge aid station, which is up on the ridge, is at around 9000' and is a long, hot, barren stretch of former burn area of close to 5.5 miles, we're the lowest part of the course at around 7000'.

Most runners are a mess when they arrive here...either because they have run most of the race, yet still have 2 uphill miles to go, or they just didn't drink or eat enough, thinking that the section to us is an easy downhill stretch. Yeah, it's downhill most of the way, but easy it ain't!

Typical of what the section to Rendija looks like
Hot, exposed old burn section

It was Deb's idea to name this the Last Chance Saloon, going with a western theme and serving several types of ice cold beer and something else. Last year's something else was Jim Beam whiskey, this year it was Jose Cuervo tequila especial.

Some brave runners enjoying the Tequila

For the beer, rather than buying random beers like last year, I went with Tecate', which when cold, refreshes and fits in the Western theme. Because JT from Colorado Springs was running, I also bought some PBR, which was mostly for the CS runners, but was enjoyed by many others. I'm thinking for next year to brew my own (I home brew) Corona style, which I can brew for a lot less than any beer I can buy and maybe even have some sasparilla!
The race committee does not provide the beer, this is my own doing and I pay for it all, including the Tequila. No one says I can't do it and I like to keep my runners happy, which I did. There were many takers of both!

JT (center) enjoying some PBR

The other huge item is ice....I like to have lots of ice for the runners as most of the runners come through during the hottest part of the day. When we mentioned "Would you like ice in your bottle?" The return was "You have ice?" followed by a huge smile. I like to think we helped get the runners to the finish in a good mood. We also had no drops, we had several close calls, but everyone eventually got up and walked or ran up the hill and got their piece of pottery.

Finisher's awards
Jemez pottery made by the Toya family 

The following is a series of photos I took during the day....it was busy, so I didn't get many. You can see all of my photos here.

Co-captain, Bogie helping a runner

MK, Emily and Jaquie "cowgirl" the tables
Notice the menu

Some of the Los Alamos track and cross country runners helped us out

Here they are waiting for coach Blake Wood

Runner David Coblentz soaks his head and cools off at the water bucket

Then charges up the hill ahead of his competition
He did hold him off

The later in the day we got, the more fun it gets
This guy took a can of beer, raised it into the air and sang a toast to us

Dave Hanenburg and friends just hanging out and enjoying the day are about to get to the finish before dark

So that's it....another Last Chance Saloon come and gone, before you know it, I'll be getting ready for next year!

Hope everyone had a good run and especially enjoyed the LCS, where we aim to please!

See you on the trails, which for me and Deb is the San Juan Solstice 50 miler in later June...then the Hardrock 100 in July.

One last photo, which is of Deb running the 50K race...

Deb had a good run and is on pace to have a good summer
She ran 1.5 hours faster than expected and felt great doing it


Olga King said...

Ice is THE item on my list when I am at the AS and temps above 60f:) Too bad race doesn't pay for drinks, so thanks for that, I guess. I don't participate (I did once for vodka shots and was buzzed for the next 2 hrs), but I know of so many who appreciate it! Especially JT. Or Joe. Or a handful of others.

Steve Pero said...

Olga...I'm not sure it would be good for the race staff to pay for alcoholic drinks, so I do it for the runners and they look the other way ;-)

Joe was the last finisher last year and sat down and drank a full beer before moving on to the finish ;-)

Patrick Garcia said...

Thanks for taking care of me briefly on my way through! Sorry I wasn't in shape to be a very effective communicator :)

Steve Pero said...

Patrick, yeah you looked in rough shape when you came through, but nice to see you hold off your pursuer and get the win! Good work!

brownie said...

Such a great aid station! Beer never tasted better than after running that long stretch through the heat. Next year I'll donate a 30 pack of PBR to the cause.

Brennen Wysong said...

Yeah, Steve, you better keep it lite on the beer you brew for next year. If you made a nice heavy-hitting IPA, you may never end that party -- leading to a endless list of DNFs.

Sounds like a great race out your way.

Steve Pero said...

JT, i'll be brewing something for the aid station, something lite, of course ;-) But I'll be sure to have some PBR for your arrival ;-)

Steve Pero said...

Brennan, if I brewed an IPA, I'd end up drinking it all before all the runners came through, so it'll be something lighter ;-)
You would love it out here, but I miss New Hampshire!

Jonathan said...

Steve, thanks for the great aid station. You were the only aid station with ice and something cold to drink. I wanted a beer but didn't think my stomach could handle it. Glad to see Big Sexy (runner with kilt) came through in one piece. I must have come through right before him. Again, thanks to you and your crew for being there after running/walking down from Rendija Ridge.

Steve Pero said...

Thanks, Jonathan....hope to see you next year!
I am a runner and love ice at aid stations, so made sure we had plenty. Many were surprised we had ice, so next year I will have a sign leading in to let you all know we have PLENTY of ice (and beer and tequila)!

Desert Dirt said...

Good form Steve! Knowing there's a LCS out on the course kinda makes me want to run Jemez next year. Or maybe I could just help man the aid station. I may actually be up at the Solstice. If we make it I'll look for you. Best of luck.

Steve Pero said...

Awesome, come and help and there's home brew for the help ;-)
Hope to see you at SJS!