So one my local volunteer activities is with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. In addition to a fairly wide variety communications support activities for local hospitals, Emergency Management, the Red Cross, the National Weather Service and the like, we help with a handful of public service events.
An event that ran this weekend is called the Indiana Trail 100. The IT100 is sizable and requires a large contingent of hams, EMS, park rangers and other volunteers because it runs for 30 hours. Straight. ‘Run’ is the operative word here. The IT100 is an "ultra-marathon". 200 - 300 persons of all ages (and perhaps of questionable judgment) converge from around the country on the Chain-O-Lakes state park and choose to run either 50 or 100 miles straight through the night making laps around the park trails. Rain, snow, cold, mud, bugs and hidden tree roots are all part of the 'fun’. There are things at an ultra-marathon this farm-boy just never sees anywhere else, and are simply priceless.
- The look on the face of the strapping 20 something athlete clearly struggling for each step late in the day as a 90 pound, 70+ year old women zips around him, happily humming to herself as she floats along.
- Runners out on the trails sporting top-of-line running gear tooling along next to someone who looks like they are 25 years tardy for their high school gym class.
- Runners who are wet, covered with mud, and obviously cold, and telling the other runners at an aid station how great it is “out there” as they suck down hot soup while wrapped in something akin to an aluminum coated garbage bag trying to stave off hypothermia.
- Tutus. Yep - tutus. Really! Tutus! I’m sure why tutus are ‘the thing’ for runners, but they’re not really uncommon. Now I’ll have to admit that once you get your head past the dissonance of seeing a tutu in the woods, they do kinda start to grow on you. It does, however, put an extra twist in your head when you see a purple, sparkly one hobble by caked in mud, sopping wet, and drooping down on one side. On a guy. The 20 something who is eating Grandmas dust. I certainly hope there was nothing less than a TRIPLE-dog-dare involved in that one. Next year I’m gettin’ a picture.
They are actually all very nice folks, and are universally quick to thank you for your help. One has to wonder though, what would motivate folks that outwardly seem otherwise quite normal to do such a thing. While wearing a sparkly, purple tutu. I don’t get it, but maybe It’s just me....