Aid Stations 101
From the runners standpoint, aid stations at a trail-race / ultramarathon exist so they have a place to get food and water so they can continue running and finish the race. From the race organizations standpoint, it gives us a place to check on the runners to make sure they are doing ok and are able to continue running – aid stations are also where we track runners progress, record their bib numbers etc. Simply put, the primary reason we have aid stations is for the runners safety and to help the runners accomplish their goal of safely finishing the race.
At times it may be slow, runners trickling in, in one’s and two’s, other times you may be dealing with a mass of runners all coming in at once. Runners needs will differ greatly, some will fill their own water bottles and will be in and out in a matter of seconds, others may want you to fill their hydration backpacks, help them get food / snacks and then may sit and rest for a few minutes. Be sure to ask runners what they need, Offer encouragement and provide assistance however you can.
In the Covid-era it is important to be recognize the fact that people will have different tolerances regarding their personal space. Please take extra care to ask runners what kind of help they need if any, rather than just rushing in. Almost all food is pre-packaged and there will be ample hand-sanitizer.
Working an aid station:
• Please spend some time studying all of the sections of the Afton Trail Run website (both volunteer and runner info) to learn as much as you can about the race – this will help you perform your job and will also make you a resource for other volunteers and most importantly, the runners.
• Arrive early / before the posted time your aid station is scheduled to open or before the time you are scheduled to start. Times posted are estimates, runners may arrive earlier so you should plan to arrive early. Familiarize yourself with the supplies and equipment that you have been provided with.
• Introduce yourself to your aid station mates and to the Ham Radio Operator(s) who are stationed at your aid station as well. Cell phones are not always reliable in this area, we rely on Ham Radio Operators for the majority of our communications – they can provide communication from aid station to aid station, from your aid station to the start / finish, from your aid station to the race director and in the event of an emergency can call for emergency services.)
• Get the aid station equipment set-up, put out food and water and be ready for the first runner.
• Fill water bottles, help find drop bags (Aid Station 6 only), help get and prepare food. Generally be of assistance to the runners and offer encouragement. When not in use, keep food covered, cold, protected etc.
• If a runner is having a medical problem, notify the Ham Radio Operators immediately so they can radio for help if needed.
• If a runner drops out of the race, make sure you notify the Ham Radio Operators right away.
• When runners come into the aid station HAM Radio Operators will record their race numbers. Please also offer any assistance to the HAM Radio Operators in recording numbers and times especially during “peak” times when there are many runners coming in and out of your aid station.
• The trail “sweeps” will be shortly behind the last runner on the last loop. The sweeps are there to make sure that nobody is left behind / hurt on the trail, pick up course markings and pickup any garbage left on the trail. When the “sweeps” arrive, that is your cue that you can close your aid station. Be sure to have some water and snacks available for the sweeps.
• When you start packing up your aid station, please pack all the equipment back in one bin, pack all food into another and all soda / soft-drinks into another. Fold up your tables, take down the tents and leave in a neat pile. Check before emptying full water jugs, this water can be transported down the course to another aid station.
• Aid Station 6 is the only aid station with a cutoff. It is NOT your responsibility to enforce it, the only people that will enforce cutoffs are the sweeps or the race director.
• Be sure to take care of yourself while volunteering. Get some rest from time to time, stay fed and hydrated throughout. You may want to bring a chair, rain gear, bug-spray and sun-screen. You may want to pack a snack for yourself, but you are also welcome to help yourself to aid station food.
• The race giveaway will be sent out to the aid station(s) in the supply bins. Make sure you get the years giveaway (t-shirt, hat, TBD). The aid stations get busy, so if one is not offered to you, please do not be shy and ask.
• Please come to the finish after your shift for pizza and beverages. We will deliver pizza to Aid Station 5 since those volunteers are there so late into the day.
• Please reach out if you have any questions at all. Thank you very much for your help!