Last year I signed up for the Bandit Ultra Trail Race 30k and the days leading up to the race I got sicker and sicker. The day before the race I thought I could pull it off even though I had massive body aches and felt like death warmed over. I picked up my bib and shirt but by the time I got home I was a wreck and had to DNS the race.
This year I went back to the Bandit a week after running the Sean O’ Brien Marathon but went to volunteer. If you were in the race, I was one of the guys along with JK who helped steer 50k, 30k and 15k runners around the first loop then onto the first uphill climb. I was also at the race to support my friends Marcos and his son Canek who were doing a fundraiser for CAUSE, a social justice organization. Marcos is the Executive Director of CAUSE. There were also a lot of folks from the Trail and Ultra Running Group (TAUR) and it was fun connecting with them online and at the race. I was sporting my TAUR hat during the event.
After the first three races started I ran back to set up the initial set of cones so that runners would be channeled to the right direction when they made their way back to the finish line. There was also a 6k race but they started in a different location and would be zooming down the hill towards the same finish line.
After setting up the cones, we ran around the first mile-long loop and picked up cones and swept off all of the flour arrows from the race since runners would not be going that way again.
After that my initial volunteer duties were over and I grabbed my Nikon and waited for the first runners to show up. I ended up staying for the entire event and was basically on my feet for close to ten hours. I did take a couple of little breaks here and there to grab more goodies from my car and to sit for a bit but it was a long day. It felt great being able to give back to the running community. It really is a different selfless world on the other side of the race experience. One runner came in and was totally gassed and I helped guide him around as he got more water and got his legs back. Others came in and shared their incredible runs on this crazy hot day. The week before during the SOB races, it was in the 60’s and raining. This week it was in the mid 80’s which feels like 90’s because of the radiating rocks.
Even though I mostly took photos of the finish line, every finish was special on its own. I photographed about 90% of folks who finished the race and was able to connect with some of them to share photos of them. It was also great getting to meet and chat with Jorge Pacheco who is a running legend. He won the 50k race that day at the Bandit and the week before he came in third in the Sean O’ Brien 100k race, earning him a spot in this year’s Western States 100 race. Jorge congratulated me on finishing the marathon race at the Sean O’ Brien. Crazy to think that two years ago I was 35 pounds heavier, a type 2 diabetic and leading a couch potato lifestyle.
I’m embedding the Flickr gallery here below and you are welcome to download the “large” size photo. The photos are under a license. You may use them but please give me some attribution by using my name and a link back to jesseluna.com.
Also, if you ran Bandit, please leave a comment!