Howl At The Moon 2009

Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 11:32:38 -0500
From: Juli Aistars
Subject: Straight from the heart — Howl at the Moon 2009 crewing report

Among the many races going on this weekend was the 19th edition of Howl at the Moon in Danville, IL on August 8th. To know this race is to love it. It is hosted by the Kennekuk Road Runners in beautiful Kennekuk Cove County Park. The race is dedicated to the Race Director, Marc Reddy’s, brother who died at a young age. In 2007, Scott Hathaway, age 52, died on the course and since last year, the race is also dedicated to his memory. Many of you may recall the story about the rescuscitation effort by about 5 ultrarunners with medical backgrounds who were on the scene when Scott went down. Everyone came together to get Scott the help he needed from CPR to summoning emergency assistance to the scene. It is unlikely that any of us who were present will ever forget it. I missed the race last year while I was at LT, and missed the opportunity to meet Scott’s family, so I was hoping they would be there yesterday. I had communicated with his daughter, Caylee, a few times in the month following Scott’s death after she had responded to a letter I had written to the family explaining what had happened at the scene, from my perspective.

I was not running this year, but came to the race to crew my husband, Val, to enjoy the company of other ultrarunners, and in hopes of finally meeting Scott’s family.
To make a long story short, I did finally meet his sister, Dawn, his daughters, Caylee and Ashley, and his wife, Vicky, among others. They had an aid station set up with an island theme and pelicans called “The Hack Shack”. “The Hack” is a family nickname that Scott inherited. I enjoyed talking with them, getting lots of warm hugs, and hearing about Scott. I admitted to Vicky how I struggled with whether sending them a letter right after Scott’s death was the right thing to do and she responded, “It was absolutely the right thing to do.” Another one of his relatives pointed out that Scott was in better shape then the rest of the family so it was quite a shock that this happened to him. They are the most gracious, lovely people and they spent the 8 hours of the event doing everything they could for the runners. They had a cooler with sponges, homebaked goods, fruit, almost anything a runner could want, including their loving care.

For me, meeting Scott’s family was the highlight of the race. I did not know Scott prior to witnessing him collapse in 2007, but being part of the effort to save his life and then feeling like we lost, has never quite left my thoughts since that hot August morning in 2007. I ran a few loops on the course when I was not crewing Val and the first time I passed Scott’s memorial at the old mile 2, I felt chills and a rush of sadness. It is a cross with a dedication to Scott and leis were hung on the crossbar and flowers were at the base. I paused to remember–2 years ago kneeling there in the weeds just off the trail, giving our all so he would not slip away, feeling anxiety, fear, dread, hope… The emotions of that day washed over me. Susan Rozanski, the EMT, who came on the scene right behind me in 2007, took things in hand and directed us. She was not here today. Tim Jantz, ultralister and podiatrist, also assisted in 2007–I saw him briefly at the post-race lunch. Julie Bane, who had gotten word back to the aid station to call an ambulance in 2007, was running today. A reunion of sorts… This tragedy was another reminder among many to cherish those you love–we are only here for a short time. A reminder also, of another reason to love this sport. Ultrarunners in general are good people, ready to help.
This year’s story was a runner who went down on the course with severe cramps. Another runner, whose name I didn’t catch, but please jump in if you know it, stopped to help and refused to leave his side until he was able to get medical help.
Many runners passing by offered to help with fluids or electrolytes. The fallen runner took a moment at the awards ceremony to give sincere thanks to all involved, including the medical crew (I think he had to get IV fluids) for their care and kindness. He related how he told the runner who stopped to go on with his race and he responded, “No, I am staying with you.” That is the nature of who we are–we will do what it takes to help someone in need and forget about the race. In general, ultrarunners are good and caring people first, runners second. I am sure we all have stories to tell–a new thread :).

August 8th, 2009–the weather was hot, as hot as it was back in 2007.
The temperature was predicted to be in the 90s and it reached the mid-90s. The saving grace was the breeze that blew all day, and even blew things over… There is a little shade on the 3.29 mile loop, but not much. There are two main aid stations, and “The Hack Shack”. Tables and tents line the course near the start/finish. Anywhere you stop, you can get what you need. We are family here–“you are welcome to whatever I have”, “What can I get for you?” is the attitude.

After running BR last weekend, I was glad to be crew and not running. I had so much fun socializing, cheering on the runners and walkers coming through, helping when I was needed. I was able to “give back” to Julie Bane, my pacer from last week, and also to my kind, good-hearted husband, Val. He is not at all my races, but he is there the majority of the time, including WS, LT, and WF last year. Although we have always shared the work of raising a family, dealing with life’s problems, helping each other out in various ways, the work of “race crewing” has fallen mostly to Val since I have the stronger “running addiction” in the family. I was so happy to be there for him this time. Overall, the mileage was lower than usual for the Howl, due to the weather conditions. Val suffered from heat exhaustion and finished his race an hour and a half early with 26.3 miles completed. Hey, is that an ultra, or not? :).

The overall winner, a woman for the first time in the history of the race, logged just over 50 miles. Ultralisters Mike Brooks and Carl Hunt put in surprise appearances. I traversed one loop side by side with Mike Brooks, always a pleasure to chat with and at least had the chance to greet Carl when he recognized me. I didn’t realize you were there until then! Other ultralisters at the event were Norm Yarger who logged an impressive 34+ miles at age 70, his wife Joyce and daughter Kathleen, Rich and Ana Breaux, Mike Siltman, Varsha Kulkani (welcome to running in circles!), Donna Creditor, Susan Donnelly, David Hughs, Chris Migotsky, Brian Kuhn and Rob Apple who has logged the most miles in the history of the Howl and received a special award. Rob Apple’s words upon receiving the award: “I have done 550 ultras. If I could only do one more, it would be this one.” Howl features both a runners and a walkers division. Results are not yet posted.

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