Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Other Side of the Finish Line

Saturday was the TATUR Snake Run and the fourth year this race was held on some of the easiest trails on Turkey Mountain.  It is also my fourth year volunteering at this race. 

I can’t recall exactly how I started helping with this particular race, but I keep volunteering because of the runners.  In this particular event the runners run for three or six hours to complete as many 4 mile laps as possible.  I’ve always helped with counting laps and get to see each runner 3 to 10 times (if not more).  A lot of these people have kept me motivated and pushing my limits and this is a way that I can give back to them and the Tulsa community.

The start line a few minutes before race time.
As you can see, trail runners prepare for a race a little differently.

I remember the first time I was counting laps and kept track with check marks next to race numbers.  It also rained that year.  In the end the winner was the person with the biggest smear next to their name.  Since then I wrote a small program so we could simply enter the racer numbers to track the results.  This has made it a lot easier even as we have more events and more runners.

From my unique viewpoint I was able to see some pretty cool things:
  1. Hundreds of runners as they finish each lap.  Several of them set new personal records each time they crossed that line.
  2. Dogs running off into the woods at the start of the race. 
  3. A dog being carried out of the woods after running almost 16 miles.
  4. Race directors running around like crazy to keep everything organized, on time, efficient, and safe.
  5. Beer as an energy drink (as I always suspected it was).
  6. The sound of 200 shiny medals and 200 proud runners standing in line for these medals.
  7. Semi-organized chaos at 5:00am – exactly what you would expect that early.
  8. Runners helping runners with advice and continual motivation.
  9. Racers staying to help clean-up, down to the last cup.
  10. People who normally volunteer racing.  People who normally run volunteering.
There were also a few things that I didn’t see:
  1. The three aid stations and staff with magical powers able to transport themselves through the woods.  (Actually, the runners passed the same point three times on the out & back course, they just didn’t all realize it.)
  2. Anyone fall (although there was evidence of a few).
  3. Anyone complain.
  4. Trash on the trail after the race.
  5. Snakes (and I was looking).
More pictures of this event and a nifty report from the race director can be found at


  1. Great blog Mitch. Have we told ya lately that we luv ya....ah there ought to be a song like that !!

    Co-ring leader of the Snake Run (bh)

  2. We love our Mitch
    Oh yes we do
    We love our Mitch
    Mitch, we love you!

    Trust me, you don't want me to ACTUALLY sing it, although I did bring down the house singing Play That Funky Music White Boy at Derek's birthday party.