A few times, I even had to pair up with another catcher to drag them to the medical tent because they either passed out or were about to, which definitely puts this sport up there on the "what was I thinking" scale. I actually did hear A LOT of athletes saying this word for word, but I was reassuring them that most likely the day after they would sign up for another one. ;-)
Because of the close contact I was having with all these people, my volunteer tshirt got soaked with at least 100 people's sweat, so after an hour of doing this job, I wasn't sure what to do with myself, especially since I knew quite a few people in the race and I went and gave them big hugs regardless. The "enhanced scent" was rather powerful at times, but as the excitement was growing and people started coming in waves thicker than the smell, I forgot about it and had no choice but concentrate on keeping them vertical.
I was happy to see so many people that I knew not needing any rescuing from mother gravity though - Mike Medeiros (4:51:05 - going to Vegas?) and Ayesha Rollinson (5:01:46) from Tri Trek Toronto, fellow blogger and Boston Marathon finisher Marlene Sykes (5:56:17) from Mission to (another) Marathon, and last but not least, the FMCT squad (Peter, Peter, Brian, Nathalie, Ryan, Joe, Colin and 3 more guys that I forgot their names).
However, some of the top pros, they looked like they needed serious help. I won't mention any names, but kudos to them for pulling through despite the circumstances. I don't have pictures of them all crossing the finish line, but Rachel Joyce (4:34:47), the top pro girl was such a sweetheart, she came back to wait for her fellow competitors and was very kind to pose for my modest camera.
|Rachel Joyce - what a joy!|
|Tom Lowe - running tall|
|Ready to pop the Champagne open!|
I walked back to say goodbye to our coordinator, snapped a few pictures and the headed back to the car, cheering on the last few athletes that were fighting with their will to go up and down the Muskoka's endless hills.
|Last km, down and up, and down again.|
Will I do this again? Absolutely! But it's not for everyone, especially if you don't like exchanging body fluids with strangers, I can see how this can turn some people off. I didn't even wear gloves, although sometimes I wished I did because puke, blood and feces didn't look out of place and you never knew what was going to land on you. However, I'd say that people's emotions were harder to deal with. From the girl who got her spotlight stolen in front of the camera and her heart shattered, to the son or daughter who had lost a parent to a terrible disease and were trying to cope, to the first timers who didn't know what was happening to them, to the too proud who didn't want to be touched, to those who needed a moment alone, you better know what to say or rather shut up. In the end, I think I learned a lot about this breed of endurance athletes that makes them more human than you'd think - the majority are happy but exhausted, and don't like to be rushed. Some will tell you they are ok and you know you can trust them, others will fool you to get a
Until the next time, on the other side of the finish line with a race report - you have my word!