Dark Sky 50 2018

Below is the actual race map that we used to help keep track of the radio operators and of course the runners as well.

Thanks to all the volunteers we were able to make this another successful public service event.

Quick report from Nancy:

Operator: KC8VTT Nancy Green

Equipment: YAESU FT-70DR/DE with J-pole and an extra battery pack. The first battery lasted most of the day, but I had to change it out for last hour or so.

Location: Charit Creek Aid Station was at crossroads of race path where runners arrived over the bridge coming from Station Camp Crossing then then turned left to complete the Twin Arches loop returning back to Aid Station then retracing path across bridge a short way before turning off toward Gobbler’s Knob. The Aid station had a canopy set up right at the trailhead sign for Twin Arches. I made my base just across the road from the aid station because it started out in the shade. I hung the J-pole on a reachable branch not too far off the ground. Charit Creek lodge was over the bridge from me a couple hundred feet down the road and slightly off the runner’s path. The lodge has restrooms. There is no cell service at Charit Creek Lodge (put phone in airplane mode).

Access: From Division Road follow the signs pointing to Charit Creek. Park at the Charit Creek Trailhead. A port-o-let is available in the parking lot. Take the mile hike down to Charit Creek Lodge. It has 12-13 switchbacks, but it is not too bad a hike. Since I was manning the radio alone I wanted someone to hike down with me. The race arranged for one of the aid station volunteers to meet me, but Danika had to hike up from Charit Creek since she was staying there so I took the hike back up alone hoping to make the trip without seeing bears. I had the rubber duck on and had signal most of the time. Staying overnight at the lodge would be ideal.

Narrative: The radio worked well other than finding out later from Julian that my voice was a little soft and sometimes hard to hear. It would be helpful to know the mile marker of the aid station ahead of time. Runners asked and I had to do the math! Overall runners and their support people who hiked down to see them at Charit Creek were very friendly. The preprinted form was not very helpful. I ended up tracking by keeping a separate list and transferring the info to the form. People came in and out too fast and in groups so it was not practical to flip pages to find their number. Knowing who to expect and when from Station Camp because of Bill’s reports helped a lot. I’m glad we had coverage at both Charit and Station camp because that was too long a distance un-manned last year but having 2 operators at each site instead of 1 would be nice.

The only issue we had was WATER! We had plenty of water at Charit Creek due to the lodge so they easily and often refilled the 5-gallon containers. But, when Bill radioed in from Station Camp Crossing very early in the race that the water was running low there was no response from the Charit Creek Aid personnel. In fact, some of the aid station volunteers said they wouldn’t do anything to help unless she heard it from the race coordinator, Beth. Greg, who runs the lodge was not onsite at the time. A woman from a group of horse riders offered to carry water in her saddle bags, but no containers small enough to fit were found.

Finally, one of the male aid station volunteers (I’m bad with names) found what few empty 2-litre and personal water bottles he could, filled them and with two others headed to Station Camp with the water. Runners along the way did not know they were from the aid station and did not accept the water thinking he was just a generous hiker. I was extremely unhappy with the lack of aid provided by the Aid Station for that serious situation. I felt useless trying to communicate one-way the need for help and getting only very slow response when it was a serious situation. Having another operator on hand would have helped too. I didn’t want to leave the radio to search for water or talk to the lodge employees. 

The Charit Creek aid station
Nancy KC8VTT staffed Charit Creek aid station (no other radio operators)
Bill KC8SPV was down at the Station Camp aid station using a 25-watt radio and a small vertical antenna.