Volunteer spirit makes Hinson Lake ultra special

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By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — Around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Christi Carter and Rhett Duckworth were packing up and going home.

 

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Stephanie Graham, left, works to encourage Gavin Lenz to complete his next lap to reach the 50K (31-mile) mark.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Stephanie Graham, left, works to encourage Gavin Lenz to complete his next lap to reach the 50K (31-mile) mark.

There were still more than 11 hours to go in the ninth annual Hinson Lake 24-Hour Ultra Classic in Rockingham, but the Charlotte runners had met their match if not quite their goals. And even if they were somewhat dejected about missing their mileage projections, they both were going home happy.

That’s the life of an ultra runner. And it’s the spirit of volunteerism orchestrated by race director Jerry Lindstrand and volunteer coordinator Connie Lindstrand, his wife, that make the circles a little bit easier to manage.

“This is the best value,” said Carter in her second trip to Hinson Lake. She fell short of her 50-mile goal by about 14 miles. “There’s a smorgasbord of food.”

Each cookie, bowl of soup, hamburger or slice of pizza willingly served up with a smile by one of the dozens of volunteers the Lindstrands managed to recruit. Key volunteer groups included the host Mangum Track Club as well as students from Richmond Early College High School and the Richmond Senior High School’s cross country team.

Among the Raiders young runners included volunteer Cody Mabe. The senior logged more than 31 miles Saturday night, ran about 10 more miles Sunday morning and then hauled a wagon around the 1.5032-mile inner loop around Hinson Lake helping to collect the bananas placed by runners on their lap before the 8 a.m. cutoff.

“There are so many volunteers,” Carter said.

MacKenzie Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com The van full of more than 1,100 pounds of dog food, cat food and treats given by runners to Richmond County Animal Advocates shows that runners share a spirit of giving back.

MacKenzie Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
The van full of more than 1,100 pounds of dog food, cat food and treats given by runners to Richmond County Animal Advocates shows that runners share a spirit of giving back.

As Carter and Duckworth gathered their belongings on one end of the levee at Hinson Lake, Stephanie Graham, of Charlotte, was under the white volunteer tent helping to mark off runners. She was working to encourage young Gavin Lenz to make his 21st, or “50K” lap. After completing it, the young harrier would officially finish his first 50K, or 31.0686-mile, race.

“You are doing awesome,” Graham encouraged. “This is your 50K lap.”

Graham is an accidental — and slightly unwilling — volunteer. She had registered for the race and originally planned to run it before an injury forced her to back off. But she couldn’t miss it for the experience.

“I just want to be here 24 hours,” Graham said. “Now I feel invested in my runners. “I want to see them finish.”

East lap counter was assigned a list of runners to keep track of their mileage. Instead of making it super-simple by having only a runner’s bib number, the Lindstrands ensured runners were more than a number. They had their name, too. Graham and other volunteers took advantage of the setup to strengthen the personal connection, which had a positive impact on pushing runners in a forward direction with motivation.

MacKenzie Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com This runner needs no one right now. Just sleep. But the fully stocked aid station was manned and available throughout the 24-hour footrace.

MacKenzie Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
This runner needs no one right now. Just sleep. But the fully stocked aid station was manned and available throughout the 24-hour footrace.

Graham could have stayed home. Or she could have traveled to Rockingham, set up a tent and simply watched. But she wanted more than that. She wanted to give back “because I’ve been on the other side and I know what it’s like.”

The encouragement, even if from a stranger who becomes a runner’s best friend over a 24-hour period, “gives you the energy to keep going.”

Connie Lindstrand was merciless in her admiration of  all of the volunteers. Graham, Missy Smith and Anna Reed were among those not directly related to the race who volunteered from about 7 a.m. Saturday through clean-up at 10 a.m. Sunday.

“We couldn’t have done it without them,” Lindstrand said.

Susan Dummar, of Fayetteville, was smiling as he approached the start of another lap. The sun was rising. There was less than an hour to go. She smiled.

“It’s all over now,” Dummar said. “I’m all smiles.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

It might have helped that the volunteers’ tent, with a wide variety of salty and sugary foods and sports drinks, was only a few hundred meters ahead.

 

 

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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