100 Miles of Istria – Volunteering ultra style
I would like to share my story, not stating that this is how you should volunteer, but stating at what race you should volunteer. I took two days off work to join the volunteering team at 100 Miles of Istria. I decided not to run this year (don’t remember when and why), but I couldn’t miss the most important trail running event in Croatia. It was my first time volunteering on such a race. I loved it!
Guys from SRK Alba and SD Trickeri did an amazing thing with race organization, not only for runners but also for volunteers. It’s not an easy task to handle 160-170 people, coordinating course marking, registration, food stations and check point, logistics, three different start location, finish area opened more than 24 hours, results, web, photos… Some folks volunteered whole weekend, some volunteered and then raced, some worked for months before the race, and I guess some are still working.
My journey began in the middle of the night on Wednesday, taking a bus from Zagreb to Umag, to be there on time to prepare registration area. It was fun preparing the scene, putting up banners and meeting all the competitors from 100M category and most from 105K. As there was no queue most of time, I decided to run a little survey, writing down backpack brands that people had on mandatory equipment check desk. What do you think, what is the second most popular brand? 🙂
In the middle of registration on Friday, I said goodbye to my Registration team, and took a bus to Labin to witness a first start. With lots of my friends there, it was hard to answer myself why I am not wearing my running gear. It was hard to let them go. 🙂
Fifteen minutes after they started, the square was back to its original shape. You couldn’t guess some two-day race just started here. Impressive! We had to pack everything in order to move it to second starting point, in Lovran, in time for 105K start. In Lovran we witnessed a night start. Again my friends, my questions and letting them have all the fun. 🙂
Then I moved to another task – setting up a checkpoint at peak Žbevnica (CP13). Highlights are hiking with Sonja Lesjak in the middle of the night to set up a tent at the summit, eating cold pizza and drinking Coke at 3am while looking at lamps coming down from Orljak (CP11), greeting all the runners while trying to guess in which language to shout and cheer, catching first rays of light (no real sunrise because of the weather), seeing the whole Istria in front of you… Although the weather was perfect for the runners, it was a bit cold for us. But two pair of socks, leggings, pants, four-to-five top layers, bandanas, hat, two pair of gloves, and a blanket did their thing and we survived. 🙂
After 12 hour shift on Žbevnica, we moved to finish line in Umag, a bit too late to greet winners, but still early enough to cheer for the most of the runners. During the day, I caught two hours of sleep, before taking my night shift at finish line. Around midnight a good friend of mine stopped in Vilanija, some 5k before finish of his 100 miles race. He couldn’t walk anymore and he decided he will sleep there so we went to a rescue mission and made sure he doesn’t quit.
After two nights with very little sleep, I felt like I ran a race myself. To demonstrate you how my brain wasn’t functioning at its best, I’ll confess here that I got lost on a way to my apartment. I wondered around for more than half an hour at 5am in a small town, trying to figure out at what address is my bed. And I’m also an orienteer. Luckily, I stumbled upon Alen (the race director) who picked me up ad dropped me in front of the right house. Imagine what kind of a race director he is – running a race event this big and still finding a time to save friends. Tnx Alen, you’re great.
After four hours of sleep again at finish area, I was almost fresh again. But the sun and smiling faces of runners and volunteers gives you energy to forget that you are tired and that you belong to bed. On Monday, I just took another day off work, to rest from the weekend. 🙂 Would I do it again? If I couldn’t run, definitely!! 🙂 If I could.. hehe. If you are looking for a race to volunteer, I strongly recommend this one. If you’re an ultra runner, think about running first… 😉
More photos in gallery…