Sweeping the Whiskey Hill Marathon

I ran the (inaugural?) Whiskey Hill 10K a few years ago and this race has grown quite a bit over the last few years (with different distances now too!). With all of the recent rain and the trail closures, Run for Amma had joined forces on this day to welcome 100+ runners on the different races. I’ve known Rob for a while (since his awesome Coastal Marin 50K runs) and when I saw the email about the Whiskey Hill Marathon, offered to jump in as the sweeper. With American River 50M in two weeks, I figured this was looking like a beautiful day out in the woods and what better way to get some forest bathing!

Whiskey Hill Marathon

Here’s all the pictures I took from the day. So many smiles and so many awesome runners out there. Hard not to be gleeful when you are running through redwoods. It was great to meet Hugo de Groot, who’s taken over as RD for the Stevens Creek Striders 50K.

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I haven’t really done a sweep before. Chatted with Rob about the ribbons and signs I had to clean up and waited for all the 10K, Half and the Marathon runners to head out first. It was kinda weird at first since my pace was really dictated by the last marathon runner. There was absolutely no hurry and I was taking tons of pictures on the climb up to Kings Mountain aid station.

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While taking pictures, I was also checking for runners with red bibs (marathoners) to make sure I had the last runner in my radar. A bit before the 10K turn off, I met Gary Sparer, my hero. He’d just run a half marathon the day before and training for the Mt. Diablo 50K. With an out-and-back course I couldn’t really clean up the ribbons. Told him I’ll meet him at the Kings aid station. We would spend the rest of the day on and off and it was pretty inspiring to see him never stop, always on the move and getting it done. The half marathoners were coming back now, flying downhill with all smiles!

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I got to the Half Marathon turn around point and was so tempted to find a corner, sit down cross-legged and just close my eyes. The forest is such an amazing place. As I was waiting for Gary, bumped into Scott Dunlap who was out with his camera. It was single track all the way to Bear Gulch aid station and no way to get lost. Gave Gary the instructions and Scott and I ran relaxedly (well, he was going easy on me) trading running stories, chatting about our families and how he got into running in the first place. Got to hang out with Mike Kreaden (Run for Amma) at the aid station.

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Gary and I headed down Alambique Trail where the sweeping job officially began. I would stop pull out the ribbons and the signs, catch up with Gary and play tag along the way back to the aid station. There was one point where I was slightly ahead of him and left him a trail marker so he wouldn’t take a questionable path leading away from the main trail. 🙂IMG_3066

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When we got to the last aid station (with 6 miles to go), I told Gary he got himself a pacer whether he liked or not. He laughed and we both headed out down to the finish line, while I paused every now then cleaning out the ribbons and the sign posts. I think we finished around 7:00 hours and tired as he was, kept his smile and got it done. Very inspiring indeed. What an amazing day to be out in the trails. Also H/T to fellow runners Andy Belk, Ashley Nelson, Kenneth ClewsMandie Holmes.


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  • Jean-Nicolas Vollmer

    Nice for meeting you at the start and thank you for the picture!

    • Likewise and you are welcome. Looks like you had a great run!