How I Found Love at a Water Station

By: Brian Elder

Trail races are my favorite type of race. There is something natural about it being able to run through scenic trails in the woods that I enjoy. A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege to attend one, but this race was different from my usual weekend races because instead of running in the race, I was working.

Side note:

Working a race is hard. Being up until 4AM is difficult if you have been awake from the night before, but I would argue it is even harder when you have to wake up at 4AM because you know everyone else is still asleep! Most runners, myself included, before working a race do not understand the commitment it takes to get everything set up and prepared by the start time of the race. Make sure to thank the volunteers and workers who show up and work hard for you. 

While I am sure there are many runners who have volunteered or worked, I am going to assume that there NO runners who have experienced an encounter like I had at this trail race.

 Let me set the scene:

It’s a cool late summer morning transitioning into early fall in Georgia. The grass is covered with light dew while the trails are slightly damp from rain the day before. The sun is slowly starting to rise to offer a picturesque sky of reds and orange colors blended together. The river next to the trail is flowing and providing a soothing soundtrack. Love is in the air. Yes, you read correctly...Love is in the air!

Now back to the job...

My job at this specific trail race was to set up and manage the water station that was 1.5 miles along the course. Unfortunately, because it was a trail race and not a road race, access to this point along the course was difficult. Walking through a pasture with neck high, dew covered, chigger infested grass kind of difficult.  Luckily I had the help of two volunteers that attended a local high school. One guy. One girl. The tension begins...

As the three of us drove the race vehicle to carry a few coolers and tables a quarter mile through the pasture, I had already realized that I was the outcast. I was preventing these two high schoolers from being together and enjoying a nice morning alone. I felt like the overprotective parent chaperoning two teenagers on a first date. They wanted me gone!

After getting the water station set up and filling up cups I told them both that I was going to run along the course to pick up mile marker signs because all of the runners had passed. After running in the opposite direction for only 30 seconds, I realized that I had forgotten something at the water station. As I turned and ran back around the corner, I looked up to see two race volunteers passionately "making out" at the water station. As they heard my footsteps return, they split apart faster than a sixteen minute 5k runner's finish time. Awkward. 

Why do I tell this story...

Well at Connect Run Club we believe running brings and connects people together unlike anything else and this experience only supports our belief all the more... #runconnected?

Brian Elder is a learner, amateur explorer, and nomadic runner that is going to run until it takes him somewhere. He is a senior at the University of Georgia studying English and Religion.  After running competitively on trails and roads, he fuels with an appetite so big you would swear it’s competitive.  Follow Brian on Instagram.