Very important disclaimer

Please be advised that the contents of this blog are opinions only (my opinion, the opinions of my family and the opinions of anyone else directly or indirectly involed in this blog). This is not an accredited training blog, nor is it an accredited anything blog. If you (and you) do anything that this blog says, or don't do anything that this site says not to do, and you get injured, sick or killed, you cannot blame me or my family or blame anyone else directly or indirectly involved in this blog. By reading anything on this blog (including this message) you are saying that you are a person who makes thier own choices in life and does not hold the writer of this blog, the writers family or any one else that may be directly or indirectly involved in the production or writing of this blog, responsible for your stupid and irresponsible behaviors, injuries, sicknesses or deaths. With that said, please enjoy my fun blog.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Calgary Marathon Volunteer Experience. and LOTS of pictures…

The Aid Station… Came out of nowhere. More on that in a bit.

I got up at 4am, and went out and fired up the big 5ton truck. I had nightmares about waking up late and the marathon not having 5 of their aid stations. Like seriously, they let me take the truck home. How much would that’ve sucked if I don’t show.

I got there right on time at 4:45 and Nathan showed up shortly after, we picked up some final instructions and we were off. Our task was pretty easy since Dad was such a taskmaster when we loaded the truck, everything was right at hand.


I owe a huge thanks to Nate for answering my call on Facebook to come out and hang with me all day. For those of you who follow along on this blog,  you’ll know I used to plow snow for a winter living (a very entertaining snow plowing post here), and Nate just happened to be my boss. He is also an aspiring triathlete, having completed 3 Tri’s to date. After hanging around the marathon on Sunday, he has now put the marathon in his bucket. (insert Top Gun soundtrack here –>> ‘Nate, you can be my wingman anytime’)

Dark out.

This is Barrie, moving very fast. Barrie’s claim to fame comes from last years Calgary Marathon when he had his radio on the wrong frequency while he was sitting in his vehicle, in the middle of the race course, while the elites were bearing down on him. People were freaking out over the radio and he was just enjoying a quiet moment in his car. Barrie is passionate about the race and they are lucky to have him.


The course changed a bit from last year, so I was surprised where the 2nd aid station was, but had no trouble locating the 3rd one. These 3 big dudes were sitting in a car at the AS location, and as we got out of the truck, they got out of their car. Uh-oh.

Turns out they were the Aid Station captains. Phew… We unloaded in record time. Thanks guys. Also, when we picked up this station later, it was the neatest and cleanest of all the sites. Great job!

We also had to drop off at the 10k AS as well as Station 14 which was the last one on the marathon course.

I worried every time we pulled away from the equipment that when the AS teams got there, everything would be gone. Thankfully there were cops and city workers all over the place, and nothing was taken.


As soon as we finished we headed back to the Start line so we could soak up the atmosphere. I’ll be honest, I was really missing the run. All the energy and anticipation, the huge crowd. I did the second best thing I could think of, and that was to take pictures.

Here is one of my favourites. You’ve been in this moment, haven't you? does it make you feel awesome? Give you butterflies?

So for the start of the Marathon and Half marathon, I found a perch above the crowd and fired away.

“who are the first timers in the half or full?” the announcer asked…

So they were off. I did see a few run buddies…

Darren wins for happiest to see me…

Tracy complained on facebook that I posted a pic of her as she waited for the PoP. I dunno. It’s a pretty good photo…

Finally got a good one of Joanne. She is a reluctant ultra marathon champion. She runs a couple thousand kms a month, it seems like.

Her dude Daren is running the 10k today.

I don’t know who this guy is, but I have a crush on his physique. He ran the 10k in about 32 minutes… And for the Canadians (more specifically the Saskatchewanians) reading this: Is the lead bike dude wearing a Pilsner Shirt?

Ok, I got some cool shots of the 10k too!


So, after hanging around the grounds for a bit, enjoying a coffee and taking some ‘assignment’ photos for CEP Compression Canada…
IMG_2783Kip won the 10k. again. in 30:08 a CR.

… we headed back to the truck to go pick up stations 1, 2 and 3. The runners were long gone by then so it was pretty quiet out there. All the stations were pretty much tidied up, all we had to do was dump the gatorade jugs and tie up some garbage bags, and toss everything back into the truck.

As we approached the #3 station, the city workers were opening the streets and picking up all the cones, I noticed a course marshall just kinda hanging out, but didn’t think too much of it.

As we parked and picked up #3, she just kinda walked by. I asked her if she was marshalling and she said yes. Turns out she got a ride out to her location but didn’t have a ride back. We were about 8km from the finish line. She was going to walk. I offered her a ride and she accepted. We got everything loaded and headed to the 10k AS.

We got to the 10k AS and since we weren’t in any hurry to get any further (AS 14 was 4 hours away from teardown) we just kind of took out time loading while watching the half and full runners on the other side of the road.

So. It’s pretty warm for Calgary standards and everyone is looking pretty beat. Where we are parked is the 38km mark for the full and the 17km mark for the half. Needless to say, they looked thirsty.


  • We had cups
  • We had Gu gels
  • We had 30 gallons of water
  • we had sponges
  • we had buckets
  • we had garbage bags

I poured a couple cups of water and handed them out. I poured a couple more cups and handed them out. I poured a bunch of cups and the lady that we were giving a ride back to the start line handed them out. Nate started handing some out too.


I remembered we had the cases of GU in the truck and so I grabbed those and we had them available for the runners too. nothing formal, just a quick “Hey, you need a GU?” When I said that, I heard someone from the peanut gallery yell out “Hey, can we have some too?”. I looked up and there on the pedestrian overpass, spectating, were 2 guys. I replied, sure, come get some. They asked me to toss some up to them and didn’t want to as it was quite a ways up there, and I didn’t really feel like it. So, the two guys came down to the truck. Little did they know they would be pouring water for the next 4 hours…. LOL.

This is is Steve A. He was the pour master.

Stan K. is the bringer of the cups. He also kept me in sponge water.

Yani, the lady we kidnapped, was the watermaster. She stood out there in the sun, wearing the safety vest, actually looking like the only official person in our little gang, for 4 hours, making sure every runner who wanted water, got water. She was interviewed by a media guy at one point too. He asked her, do you think you’ll volunteer for this race again? her response was awesome. “No, I'm going to RUN it!”… She isn’t a runner, and this was the first race she ever volunteered for!! haha, she had no idea what she was getting into…!  I asked her at one point, Were you supposed to be somewhere today? Do you have kids? She says, ‘Kids?, I have grandbabies!” That was a surprise. I took her for in her early 30’s….


Nate spent the entire day, a ways up the road offering up Mint Chocolate Gu.

The other person on our team was Dave K. He was just photographing some of the runners and got caught up in the conversation and banter we all had going on. All of a sudden I see Dave way down the road with a garbage bag picking up cups and GU packets. Then he is going back and forth returning sponges too. He did this for the duration of the race too!

I handed out water and sponges.

I can’t say enough about our ‘Team’, but thank you doesn’t seem to do it. You guys made a good day into a GREAT day for me. It was SO much fun to be a small part of the Marathon Support team.


The race org people stopped by a couple times, and at first they were like “what are you doing?”. To which I replied, “Is this ok?”

Um…. sure.

So we carried on. I sent an email to Org today sort of explaining myself and the response was: The Marathoners probably appreciated the water at 38.


So much fun. I recommend it HIGHLY! If you run races, please give back in the form of volunteering. A rule of thumb is Run 10 races and volunteer for 1. You don’t have to go to the extremes like I did as ALL volunteer positions are needed and appreciated. even an hour here or there helps… Although the marshall on the motorbike has a pretty cool job… Bring your own bike I guess…


I did end up running on Sunday. I found my good buddy Barefoot Paul as we were cleaning up AS 14. He was running along in pretty ok shape, but hurting like he just ran 39kms.


When we got back to the finish area with the truck, I took off my shoes and socks and went out to find Paul. I found him with about 800 meters to go, and ran with him to the finish. Blows me away how good of spirits he was in after 6 hours of running. I really enjoyed that bit of running. I had kind of scouted the last bit of the course for him and helped him pick the smoothest line for his feet. He finished with a very impressive kick and proudly received his medal.


When I got back to the truck, most of the equipment and all the garbage had been offloaded, so all that was left was to return the truck!


So there you have it. My Awesome volunteer experience, complete with Rouge Water Station story. I wonder if any of the runners thought it was weird to have this ‘Extra’ station.


Would you rather...

... Look at lots of photos on my main blog as I currently author, OR would you rather click through to a picture service like Flikr or Picasa to see them? (or is the web albums I keep in my facebook good enough?)

And i feel bad because some hater clicked on YOU SUCK twice in each of the last few posts. It is haters? Or do they hate running and volunteering.

(edit) Nevermind. I changed it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Calgary Marathon Photos, From my Volunteer Experience…

Go over to my Facebook Fan Page, Like me, then check out the album! Like I said, it was a pretty amazing day


So Much to say about the Calgary Marathon…

…And my volunteer experience.

I met so many amazing people today.

I get in trouble for trying to hard some days. But not today. We (I) set up a rouge aid station on the race course with the supplies we were picking up from other stations. Nate and I had picked up a Course Marshall who was going to walk back to the start/finish line (8kms), and we offered her a ride as we were headed that way. 20 minutes later she was handing out water to thousands of runners. She did this with us for the next 4 hours. There were 2 guys up on the pedestrian overpass that were cheering on the runners. They came down and helped pour water for the next 4 hours. The guy who was taking pictures near us just started picking up garbage and returning sponges. He did this for the next 4 hours. Nate was up front handing out GU’s. He did this for the next 4 hours.

It was truly a special day for me. I will have plenty more to talk about in the next couple days about all of this.

Here is our band of Outlaw Aid Station Personnel. I’ll introduce you to each of them in the coming blog posts.


And here are 3 of the 250 some photos I took today. ALL are amazing. I’m not sure how to select just 30 or 40 for the blog…


This one over exposed, but with a little tweaking turned out very cool.


This is how happy people were to see us at 38kms… Good to see you again Ron! I saw Ron run by at 38kms during the Red Deer Marathon last week. I was standing in the Red Deer River at the time icing my legs after I finished the Half up there.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Calgary Marathon, Volunteer Edition. Part 1

Left the house at 9am, went and picked up my dad and we headed over to pick my giant truck. We are headed to the Calgary Marathon Race site to get loaded to deliver Aid Stations in the morning.


I really dig driving big trucks! Can you tell?


We headed down to the race site to get set up with our equipment and supplies for our assigned Aid Stations. I got the 10k Station, and Marathon Stations 1,2,3 and 14. We start at 4:45 Sunday morning and because we have the first 3 stations we GOTTA BOOGIE!


Waiting for our spot to load up.


A few of the fearless leaders! I have been around a few organizing committee's and this group is a good as I have seen. Working hard and having fun! What more can you ask for?


The logistics to pull off a race this size is mind boggling.


  • 48 tables
  • 25 trash cans and 125 garbage bags
  • 72 cans of Gatorade mix
  • 1000 Gu’s
  • 20 giant Gatorade barrels
  • 300 sponges
  • first aid kits
  • etc etc


My home for the better part of Sunday.


Everyone worked so hard! And smiled the whole time! It was a fantastic group effort.


These guys did most of the heavy lifting. I would almost like driving the Gator better than the truck… Almost.


This is the start line tomorrow. I can’t wait to see it with thousands of people! ! (the pink bug has a for sale sign in the window. Anyone want the phone number?)


Don’t forget the  Km markers!


I will have PLENTY of photos from behind the scenes tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Red Deer Half Marathon Weekend…

Results for the Woody’s RV Marathon, Half Marathon (and 10k) are here.

And the free photos will be here. Apparently took over 10,000 at the race.

First things first. Thanks SO MUCH to the race crew, volunteers, and spectators at the Race. Best race yet for all of those things. Big race support in a pretty intimate setting. Red Deer just jumped up a LONG way in my ‘like’ scale based on the parks, paths and people I experienced this weekend.


Ok, on to the weekend.

I booked this race WAY back when I was debating whether I was going to run Vancouver or Red Deer for my first marathon. We remember how that race went, right?

Well, I am still under trained for these races, as my life hasn’t slowed down at all. The good news is, in about 10 days I'll be able to close a very stressful chapter from my recent past and I'll be able to get back to training and writing about training. Can’t wait. I miss the internet. I still love every minute of racing. Every. minute. Up here in Winterada, it is getting closer to that day we call summer, so the leaves have reluctantly started to come out of the trees. This weekend last year I was whacking the trees in my backyard so the snow didn’t break them to bits.

We hooked onto the camper and went up to the Lions Campground in Red Deer for the weekend (btw, we won’t camp there again. The site was nice enough, but we were constantly harassed by a staff member for really trivial things, plus at one point I was in the bathhouse taking a shower when this guy and his wife come in and starts spraying antibacterial foam all over the washroom. I yell out, ‘HEY I’m in the shower here’, he says ‘I know” as the cleaner is flowing into my stall, he just keeps working away. we called him the campground Nazi.)

We love to camp. In fact, it’s our favourite thing to do as a family. We tend to rough it. looks like a tough time hey?


So Friday was a blur, basically just chucking our stuff in the truck and camper and zooming up the highway to make sure we got a spot in the campground. We did, then we ended up in Walmart and Safeway for the better part of the afternoon getting groceries and supplies. That was pretty much it for Friday. Pretty early to bed.

Saturday, we got up at a little before 9am. Thankfully Lisa H posted on Facebook that the family run was at 9:30, not 10:30 like I originally thought. We put our running gear on and headed out to the school where the start line was. But not before Traci took a huge digger over the dog fence we put up for the donkeys. She’s ok tho, bruised, but un-phased after a short timeout, and we made it to the start line in time.


Andrew was READY!! he did so good. Until…


He spotted the mother of all playgrounds. We spent a good 15 minutes here, then found a shortcut back to the finish line.


I was lucky when we got back as this guy dumped all the coffee stir sticks onto the ground, but I had just finished mixing my coffee. Then he dumped his own coffee out by accident. I made some comical remark then left.


Finally got to meet Lisa H. Facebook is very cool. I meet the best people there, then they talk me into running their races, then get to meet them in person and find out they are just as cool in real life. Thanks for the awesome race! Maybe next time we’ll have time to go for coffee and chat some more.


The rest of Saturday was spent doing normal camping things as shown in the following pics. (notice barefoot Traci Z in one of the following pics?). We are going shopping at Gords this week for a pair of lighter more minimal shoes. her cushioned shoes are killing her…


Had Taco’s and red velvet cake for pre race supper. Drank a bunch of water and headed to bed. The alarm went off at 5:45, I ate a multicolored cereal breakfast and had some more water. The night before I wrenched my back a bit and it was bothering me so I popped a couple Tylenol. The race start was only 3km  away from the campground so I decided to walk. Turned out to be a good time to test my new Vibrams, complete with the nitrous bottles in the heel. They worked great and I was at the start line in record time.


Pretty nice for right in the heart of the city…


This is a portion of the race course. I have to admit though, that I couldn’t get to the start line soon enough and actually had to take a dump in the forest down there. My Apologies to all of Red Deer, but I did walk WAY into the bush, went off the trail into very rough shrubbery and I did bury my… well. you know.  This was a first for me. I was very proud as you can imagine.

Sure is pretty though…


Of course Joanne and Daren are going to be there. They race EVERYTHING.


Great to see you both! Hey, guess what!? It’s time to go race! As  walked over to the bag check, I got to give my favourite answer to one of the many questions I get at every race. At this point I am still wearing the Vibram’s. A guy looks and says “You aren’t going to run in those are you?”

“Nope I am not” and I took them off.

Ok, Let’s race!


The guy in the red was a real pecker.


Here is David! He walked up to me before the start and just says “Hi Neil”. I don’t recognise him as he has shaved and is wearing a GoPro camera. David is at all the races too. We ran together for 17kms. Thanks so much for the company David, that was just what I needed today! He rant he full, and rocked it!


Here is the result of the GoPro he is wearing. He had it set to take 1 picture every minute.

Here is my start line video. My feet are in this video.

About 1200 runners total, so it was a bit of an accordion to start, but we were going steady as soon as we crossed the timing mat.


The next picture shows the surface for much of the race. I have to admit, I’dve been better off in this race wearing my 5’s, but you know me. Always one to look for more Barefoot education. About 80% of the race was old, rough asphalt, there was a km or so of path gravel and the rest was new asphalt and a stretch about 200 meters on new glorious city sidewalks. The other bad thing about racing in a very treed route in late May, is Trees are dropping really sticky piles of tree crap. I found myself trying to scrape off sticky gunk much of the time.

That said. Most beautiful race course I’ve ever raced on. So un real. The gravel section was an actual island on a pond. the rest of the race followed all the ups and downs of Red Deer’s amazing pathway system. I will come back next year. I will wear minimal shoes.


Ok, for the birders out there. I was fortunate to spot the very rare mid-Albertan red beaked Shrew. I pointed it out for you here. Do you see it there in the woods? look closely.

Blue eyed Red Beak

Did you see it?**

Ok, ok, ladies. I am an equal opportunity blogger. Here is a 60+ year old fella who spent the entire weekend in his Speedo (seriously), but mercifully put on a pair of regular swim pants when it started pouring rain this morning.


So, not too many more picture  by me. I had a hell of a time with my Gel-Bot strap and spent multiple minutes fiddling with it until at 18k I threw the whole thing away. After that my hands were free and I snapped a couple photos nearing the finish. I was using the Gel-Bot for the first time ever, as I left my new (and old) Nathan Belts at home by accident. Big whoops by me…


This was the nice downhill finish (for shod runners, the rough pavement was just the cherry on the uncomfortable cake that was this race as a barefooter) I was able to sprint a bit at the end to avoid being chicked.


Now this series of shots were taken with David C’s GoPro. He was nice enough to send me the raw images… these show the race course very nicely too

GOPR1870 copyGOPR1879 copy

Good form! And THANKS Gu Energy!  this has to be one of my favourite race images ever! Just sort of embodies everything doesn’t it?

GOPR1909 copy

The gravel..

GOPR1918 copy

The gravel on the island.

GOPR1919 copy

As we were running here this guy comes up from behind and kind of runs beside me and behind David. I ask, Are you trying to pass?

He replies: No, I am just running beside you so that if you step on something and veer off toward the water I will catch you like your own fairy godmother.

I say: Thanks!

GOPR1922 copy

I finished the race in 2:17:xx, which is very slow for my standards. Heck I did a 2:18 in a blizzard a month ago and a 2:01 last November. I attribute this time to A: the surface and B: my lack of knowledge of the course. It was WAY more hilly than I expected and I went out for 15kms at a sub 6ish/ minute pace. I also spent a lot of energy in full Ninja mode on the gravel and rough surface. The final 3km were really slow with a bit of walking. Still, I loved it. I choose to do this, so I have no regrets about any choice I make to race, barefoot or not…


The scenery was so nice, I later on Sunday took Traci and Andrew to see some of the areas of the race course that I really enjoyed.


Then we ate! YUUUUM!!! I love race day feasts! especially camping!


The next scheduled race for me is the K-100 relay, and next weekend am volunteering for the Calgary Marathon Weekend. Should be fun. I’ll be taking LOTs of pictures of behind the scenes stuff for sure…

** I took the picture only for the purposes of this blog. I am always thinking of your entertainment… and besides, she’s the one who wore the buns 1 size too small…