Monday, August 15, 2011

Meandering Thoughts on the Prairie: Marathon Morning

Rarely do I rise before the sun. On this particular morning, however, I was in charge of Aide Station #7 on the Grizzly Marathon path ( In its 10th anniversary, my team could not be late to set up my sports drinks, water, and Hammer Gel.

Having gulped down an instant breakfast and made coffee, I roused my 13-year-old assistant, fed him an egg sandwich and headed off into the dark. Down a gravel road, across a river, and up onto the plains that lie below the Rocky Mountains we went bumping along in our family special, "the blue corvette" (imagine rather, a Chevrolet caprice station wagon that has been kicked by a horse once, hit by a deer twice and has a raceway rumble to its emissions).

In the dark, mind you, it is very difficult to find your station number, spray-painted on the side of the road. Fortunately, we had a port-a-potty to mark our spot as well. Of course for "safety", it was 100 feet off of the road behind a barbed wire gate, but if we missed that we had two cattle troughs further up the road to help us eyeball our mark.

We drug the gate open and repositioned the car, filled cups and began munching on our prepackaged cinnamon rolls. Within minutes, the first half-marathon runner, just at daybreak, crested the hill. We clumsily handed off water, spilling most of it down our arms. Ah well, it would get better.

We passed most of the time between 6am and 10.30am reorganizing cups, watching a ground squirrel harvest grass, and talking with runners. It was quite extraordinary; the runners would slow down and talk with us while taking refreshment. As we huddled in our sweatshirts, they stripped layers and threw them in the car.

A lot of our time was, however (with less than 200 runners in the race), spent visiting and watching the day open. I cannot deny that a more spectacular view can be had on a summer morning. The towering Rockies keeping vigil over the tumbling foothills that roll onto the lush range is a sight to behold at sunrise, no matter how long you've lived here.

True to the race's name, we had our visitor. At first glance a runner and I spied a four-legged coming across the hill towards our spot. It was facing us, so I thought it looked like a badger. While I probably need to check my eyeglasses prescription, I did not realize that the GRIZZLY bear was just far away, not small!

He was a good bear, probably 3 years old. Running, digging, standing up and looking at us (what creature wouldn't stare at the beholden sight of the blue corvette?!),he made his way across the field and over the race course. Soon the "chasers" arrived, two young men on four-wheelers in charge of course safety, to make sure that the young bear moved along, which he did.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, a grizzly bear is definitely not something you see every day!! Thank goodness for the chasers!