He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for the which he has” Epictetus AD 55-135

Ok the quote has nothing to do with today’s topic but I like it.  It has a Thanksgivingish feel and is a good going forward quote.

This weekend was radio silence from me because it was a busy one.  Upon landing from my whirl wind tour to Columbus Ohio I went directly to help set up for the Philadelphia Marathon.  Since there is no way in hell I am ever going to run a marathon I thought I could help out.  My friends at G4 Productions asked if I would help out for the weekend.  My mother taught me that when three beautiful women ask you to help out you should have a DAMN GOOD reason not to.  Since I did not possess this reason I said yes and helped. 

I have known the women known as the “G’s” for quite some time.  They are responsible for putting on some of the coolest bike races in the nation.  They deal with all of the detail’s that we don’t think about.  Porta potties, Catering, Banners, Are there enough zip ties, does any one have a ladder, etc.  Plus their list of contacts is quite impressive.  If they need something they know where to get it.  Barriers, Bleachers, Start/Finish trussing Check Check and Check.

Friday Night I checked in and was put to work.  I helped on the start finish area and did a bit of everything. Dropped barriers, hung banners, whatever was needed.  Hanging all of the start finish barriers was a chore.  Luckily I am comfortable on top of an eight foot ladder.  Some of the banners had to be hung and rehung several times.  A few deep breaths and it was midnight.  Time to cash it in for the impending 3 A.M. wake-up call. 

Saturday up at 3 and on the Parkway by 4 A.M.  from there it was a whirl wind more barriers building signs, moving banners to different places, helping with the kids race, helping with the 8K race, placing balloons, Moving trucks to water stops with 15 to 20,000 lbs of water in them.  I had no idea that so much work went into the small details. 

All of this and I was only working in the start finish area.  There was so much going on all over the city that I thankfully didn’t have to deal with.  I also did a walk through with the Marathon Director and the UPS representatives.  UPS representatives?? Yep more on that in a moment.  This was what the G’s asked for me to do.  Thank somebody I was working with an awesome person to get this all completed.

When I say there was a lot of work to do I mean it 2,000 plus volunteers worth of work.  Yikes!  Sometime between 5 and 6 it was time to call it quits and have some dinner and a beer (or two).  Another 3 A.M. wake up call was in the future.

3 A.M. and up layering appropriately to face the day and packing up to check out and be ready for my “BIG JOB”  So 4 A.M. and I’m in Eakins Oval and prepping.  Never having run a marathon I was not familiar with the “Gear Check”.  The runners have a spot where they can drop off their bags and then they can collect them when they are done.  Sounds simple; right? 

Well in theory it is.  In practice a little different.  There were approximately 23,000 marathon runners.  Even without every person checking their bag it still is alot.  The fine folks in brown… UPS provide the services of storing peoples bags. 

They are obviously masters at packing trucks with precision.  There were 22 UPS trucks to accommodate all of the bags. 

The scrum to drop off bags

Just getting the trucks in order and reserving a parking space was an ordeal.  Now there were 22 trucks and there are 26 letters in the alphabet so the trucks had to be split up.  When I saw how the alphabet was split up starting with the first truck I knew things were going to be ok, or a sign of things to come.  Either way there was a bar in the future.

Get it? A Bar? 

Cajoling approximately 50 volunteers to work with the UPS drivers was a bit like herding cats or as I heard this weekend “Nailing Jello to a tree”  but it all got done, and pretty darn well I may say so myself.  Notice I didn’t ask if I could say so myself I just went ahead and said it. 

Now one would think that this process would just be done in reverse order and be done but NOOOOO.

Now the trucks needed to move about a quarter of a mile down past the start finish line so that as the runners finished they could walk straight to the trucks and get their gear.  Again sounds simple but the the logistics of moving 22 UPS trucks down the center of an active race course and parking them in alphabetical order again is amazingly NOT simple. 

The trucks had to go under the start finish trussing to get to their spot.  One minor issue… the trussing is 8 feet high and the trucks are 14 feet high.  So as the last of 23,000 marathon runners headed out the trucks had to be in place so that the truss could be raised and the trucks could drive underneath.

OH one small catch.  The trucks had to stay moving under the truss so that they did not crush the timing cable underneath of it.  The cable could take the weight as the trucks rolled but not if one parked on it.  So we only had to keep 22 trucks rolling down an active race course with people walking around on it. 

Now the trucks had to be parked in alphabetical order again and then prepped for bag pick up.  We had this ahead of schedule and looking good .  Of course this is where the SNAFU comes in.  It turns out that the course director, and UPS supervisor didn’t like the predetermined spot because it made things too tight for all of the people too get by.  We ended up moving things around and positioning the trucks in an entirely different way. 

I thought for a bit that it might have been much ado about nothing and then when I saw this constant wave of people coming at me for hours I understood.

It was like this and busier for at least four hours.

When the crowds started dying down it was time for the UPS folks to get outta Philly. After thanking them profusely and saying our goodbyes it looked like this.

That was around three.  After that I spent another 2 1/2 hours packing a big truck full of sign’s, banners, fencing, flag’s, and all kinds of other gear.  Driving the truck around to pick up more stuff and trying like crazy to get stuff taken apart.  Like anything it seems like things come apart faster than they go together. 

The parkway went from looking like this in the morning…

To looking like this in the early evening…

I was impressed by the logistic’s and by the people who ran the marathon.  Many times throughout the day I was thanked by people for helping out.  It felt good.  Next time you do a race or a big ride throw a couple thank yous around.  It isn’t gonna cost you anything and it will go along way.  The promoters don’t mind hearing it and the volunteers really do a bunch to make it so you can enjoy your day.

Nice Work G4.  You ladies as always kicked out a great event with grace and style.

Here are a few random pic’s to close out the marathon thoughts.

View from the packing truck

They gave out these silver lined “blankets” to stay warm.

EWW Artsy.

Good Night

To all in the US of A Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.

If you are around the S0-California area and need to burn off all of your extra calories consider going and riding to help out Tyler Blick.  Tyler is my friend Steve’s child.  He is 5 years old and has Leukemia.  Steve is the Cycling Sports Marketing Manager at Oakley and a damn fine guy.  NO child should go through what this son is enduring.  Check it out HERE and even if you cant ride consider giving a donation.