RunK2J Virtual Marathon Sherpa

As the Chief Executive Volunteer (CEV) of RunK2J, I need to keep my volunteer skills tuned during the C19 period, so when we get back to having events in place, we’re able to volunteer and get some public events back into place. May was timeframe to complete Ottawa Race Weekend virtual runs, and the game plan was to get this completed at the start of the month.

With yesterdays surprise snowfall, it was a bit chilly – but dry. The nice advantage of having a 1 person virtual marathon event is we can pick the day, and the start line is a very convenient location at the front of the house! With clear skies, and warming day forecast, we set off in the morning with a chilly -3C, snow remaining in the shadows. Judy brought her trusty RunK2J Toque out of seasonal retirement, and I was wearing a down jacket on my hybrid bike, loaded with a backpack of water, electrolytes and nutation to hand off at designated checkpoints along the course. Here we are at the Start Line area, and with little fanfare, we’re off on the three loop ‘stay local’ lockdown friendly course, carefully designed to minimize major intersections. There are lots of little diversions onto courts and turns, as being a virtual event, Judy was not overly concerned about running a super quick time!

Of course, as Virtual Marathon Sherpa, I needed to get to Checkpoint #1, and using my trusty Trek FX, zipped along to the designated path away from high volume use by the morning dog walkers. Being there a few minutes early, also able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the birds frolicking in the warming sun, and the early buds in the crab apple tree! Enjoyed the super nice bluebird sky day, and right on schedule, my one person runner came by for her first pickup of liquids. Dropping this off 50m down the path, I could pickup the bottle, and then take the more direct route to Checkpoint #2. Using the water bottles, we also were able to re-use at each station, so no trash was generated, and this had the benefit of eco friendly green support system!

Took the time on paths to navigate round dog walkers and folks out for morning stroll – bike bell was handy to ensure there was a positive interaction with pedestrians and we can all share the more popular path! Rolling into Checkpoint #2, it was another quiet green park where I had some good visibility of when she’s arriving so I could prepare. It’s also important to ensure these checkpoint stations are in good sunny spots so I can also enjoy the sun. High moral and enjoyment for me is always an important factor too!

Back at the start line (Checkpoint #3), had a great advantage. Built in bathroom breaks (for runner, and volunteer!), and we can also do a simple adjustment in clothing. On the first round for me, I needed to get some gloves as the bike ride was super chilly on the hands. Also my morning coffee needed a deposit… as well as providing a place for our runner to have a pit-stop. I went a bit crazy here, getting a small table setup so Judy can grab her electrolytes and nutrition, and shed layers as needed. As Running Sherpa, my role is to get this all setup prior to arrival, and then retrieve the water bottle and gel pack trash that is deposited 50-100m along the course.

After that, it’s just repeat… with a 3 loop course, the genius behind this format is that the 2nd time round, you are more than 1/2 way done for the runner! It’s also super easy to keep track of when liquids are needed, and when nutrition is required on our pre-arranged schedule. We can also do audibles along the way when adjustments are needed, or when hats or jackets need to be shed. The repeated loops also gives me a bit of time to search for other runners, as Dan was doing his virtual 50K today as well in a series of loops, and did manage to get a sighting and photo too! I always enjoy exploring the course and neighborhood, and noticed this colorful machinery driving in some piles for upcoming new development nearby!

Finishing about 1km from home, I was able to provide a dry and warm jacket for Judy, so she could walk and stretch out a bit along the way back to the house. Then it’s just getting into our warm living room, removing damp cloths and doing short relax, before heading upstairs to get clean. How often can you get to the finish line, and have the cat arrive to see what you are up to? My Running Sherpa job is not quite yet finished, as I need to prepare a nice warm appropriate lunch for both of us. I need a relaxing break now too!

VIP Finisher Chair: remove damp cloths, get into comfy chair as support cat arrives. Pandemic puzzle in progress: great recovery activity!

Happy Wife, Happy Life. Take care all, and stay safe. Please respect local guidance as we work though all this together. As always, thanks for reading.

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