Aid Station Coordinator: Brad Bishop
Hardrock annually has 14 or 15 aid stations, depending on the direction of the run, and these together comprise the largest group of volunteers. Each aid station will have an Aid Station Captain (ASC) and crew of 6 to 30 volunteers. Some stations are right off a paved road, some require 4 Wheel Drive, and some can only be reach by hiking in. Brad Bishop is the Aid Station Coordinator.
Aid Station Categories
While all Hardrock Aid Stations strive to maintain a high level of care for the runners, logistics such as space, access and location necessarily cause some differences in what is available. Each aid station, regardless of location, typically goes above & beyond with a specialty "off-menu" dish for runners.
Hike-In (Kroger's Canteen, Engineer, Pole Creek): The intrepid volunteers who staff these aid stations carry in all supplies using their own strong backs (and pack animals, if available), sometimes making multiple trips. Tasks include on-site filtering of gallons of water, digging a latrine, and collecting & chopping firewood. Food variety is limited, but the essentials are available of typical aid station food groups. Their backcountry location makes it important to abide by Leave No Trace principles and keep staffing numbers smaller. No Crew Access.
Road-Side (KT, Chapman, Governors, Burrows, Maggie, Cunningham): These aid stations are car-accessible, at least via 4WD, but parking can be extremely limited. Check with your Aid Station Captain if they recommend carpooling. Water may be trucked in, or filtered on site. A wider food variety is typical, with multiple hot food options. Generators, port-a-potties, crew access and drop bags may or may not be available.
"The Big 4" (Telluride, Ouray, Grouse, Sherman): With the widest variety of available amenities, the "Big 4" aid stations can be depended on to have copious options for hot food & beverages, drop bags & other services. Electricity, port-a-potties/bathrooms, crew access and drop bags are standard. They have lots of action, lots of people, and generally the biggest volunteer staffs.
Aid Station Roles
Aid Station Captain (ASC): The ASC directs all activities on-site, including set-up, volunteer role & shift assignments, supply management and tear-down. They are the point of contact for all information for volunteers at that site. Additionally, they have responsibility beyond just run weekend to recruit volunteers, procure some supplies, and communicate to the Aid Station Director their food & supply request lists, volunteer t-shirt needs, pre- and post-run inventory, and volunteer lists. In the few cases a runner needs to drop, the ASC should be the only one cutting wristbands.
Runner Care: Hardrock values a high level of personal care, and most aid station volunteers will be focused on directly caring for the 152 runners in the run. If possible, each Hardrock runner at every aid station should have a volunteer personally assigned to them for the entire time they are in the aid station. Even if crew are present, the volunteer can quickly answer questions about what food, fluid, or other services are available, and know right where to find what's needed.
Kitchen Crew: Whether over a fire in the backcountry or a lineup of four cook stoves in town, each aid station will have a variety of foods for the runners, including hot options. Each aid station will generally have a Head Cook directing food prep & supply, and one or more Su Chefs.
Communications: Every aid station will have a crew of 1-5 radio operators keeping track of runners and pacers through the aid station, communicating with net control, and providing the vital safety backbone of the run.
Check In/Out: Assisting the Communications staff by making sure to record the number and time of every runner in and out of each aid station is crucial to the run's tracking.
Medical: Each Aid Station should be supplied with at least one EMT-level trained volunteer. While offering professional reassurance to runners stressing over minor symptoms is the most common form of help, the extreme conditions of the run make it crucial to have experienced hands throughout the course to help identify real dangers and fast care during true emergencies.
Water, Coffee & Trash: Three things that should never happen at an aid station: running out of water, running out of coffee, or having an overflowing trash can. At larger aid stations, these three basic tasks can be a full-time job. Sorting out recycling and compost from the trash is typically also part of this job.
Drop Bags: At aid stations with drop bags, at least one volunteer should be on call at all times to provide runners their drop bags as soon as their number is inbound. Some sites will station a volunteer with a radio up the trail to call in numbers ahead of time. At crewed aid stations, crews will typically ask upon arrival for their runner's bag.
Parking: The backcountry location of most crewed aid stations lends itself to a tight dance between crews, media, spectators and local traffic not involved with the run. It is very important for roadways to remain clear, and volunteers will be tasked to direct run traffic.
To send your ASC:
- T-Shirt Size
- Hours Available
- Cell Phone Number
- Number of years you've volunteered at Hardrock
- Any medical certifications
To receive from your ASC:
- Directions to aid station, parking & tent setup
- Hours of operation
- Any supplies they're seeking to borrow
- Site-specific challenges, gear
- The most recent volunteer manual
Aid Station Timeline:
Finding Your Site: Some remote aid stations can be reached by vehicle, while others require hiking or backpacking. If needed, detailed maps for reaching each aid location can be provided. However, make sure you know how to find your way to your destination. If you have never been to the location, ask your ASC to assign someone who knows exactly where the aid station is to go out with you. Remember there are few road signs out on the 4WD roads in the San Juans, and one junction can look awfully similar to another! Looking for ribbons or other course markers is good, but not 100% reliable, since these may have been interfered with.
Course Markings: Please go out as soon as you are set up and make sure that the markers leading into and out of your aid location are still there. Course markers should be placed on the left side of the runners' path. Go as far out in both directions as is reasonable, up to a mile or two.
Opening: Aid station table gives an opening times that are guesstimated one hour before the lead runner's time in the CW direction. By staying in radio contact and following the progress of the run, you may be able to open your station later than anticipated in the schedule. When you open your aid station, post the Aid Station Signs in a conspicuous place so that runners, crew, and aid station people can refer to it.
Anticipate Arrivals: The Ham Radio operators should let you know when many runners have left the previous aid station so you can roughly anticipate their arrival times. If someone is taking a seriously long time (compared to other runners), you may have a potential problem. Mostly though, these runners will show up after simply having had a bad section. Your ASC will have a table showing the historical pattern of when runners arrive, so you can identify probable peak traffic hours.
Closing: The radio operators will communicate, using the amateur radio network, with the next aid station and let them know each time a runner leaves, so that they can anticipate his/her arrival. Keep track of the runners and advise Net Control of the departure of the last runner from your aid station. At least one person from each team (typically the ASC) and a Ham Radio operator must remain at the aid station until the last runner reaches the NEXT aid station. That will ensure that a runner who may have an accident or simply does not have the energy left to make the next climb can return to the last aid station and get help. Before you pack up, take an inventory of your leftover supplies. Once packed, take a minute to do one final sweep of the area for any trash.
Food, Fluid, Shelter & Setting Up Camp
Location: If possible, locate a tent or sheltered area where runners can get out of the elements and warm up for a while. Make this area warm but not overheated - sweating and then going out into the cold again can be dangerous. Also, bear in mind that runners are likely to deposit mud and blood in your tent. If this worries you, bring old blankets along to cover the floor. If anyone appears seriously in danger of hypothermia, then have them crawl under a blanket or into a sleeping bag.
When setting up your tents, parking vehicles, and generally getting set up, consider what you will do in bad weather and at night. Try to select a spot where you will see the runners approaching while they are still a ways off. Try not to set up in a too exposed spot in case of lightning or high wind. Give space as reasonable for other people who may be using the forest (four-wheelers, hikers, llama riders, etc.).
Park your vehicles safely off the road so as not to obstruct other traffic - roads in the San Juans tend not to be too wide! If you have brought supplies to loan for the station, make sure to label them - don't count on your ASC's memory after an all-nighter!
Drop Bags: Runners are allowed to provide Drop Bags only for the seven aid stations designated on the chart. Aid station crews must transport them from the drop off at the Legion in Silverton to your individual aid station (and back). Not all runners will have drop bags, but some runners will not have crews and are relying on their drop bags for their entire support. Note that Chapman Gulch IS NOT a crew access aid station this year in the clockwise running direction.
Set the bags in numerical order so you can quickly locate the correct bag when a runner comes in. If possible, place them in a shady spot to avoid overheating, and cover them to protect from potential rain.
When a runner arrives, locate his/her bag, open it if requested (fingers don't work too well in the cold!). Provide any other reasonable assistance the runner may require to use items in the bag. Make sure any recoverable items are packed and reseal the bag. Take recycling or trash as needed.
Place the bags in a single location until after you close the aid station. Then transport them to the American Legion so runners can pick them up after the run and notify the Aid Station Director that the drop bags from your Aid Station have returned. If any of your volunteers are heading back through Silverton before the station closes, consider sending the already-used drop bags back early with them.
Fluids: The most important fluid is water. Only a few aid stations have access to potable water. Some aid stations will cart containers of water from town, while others will filter stream water on-site. If the latter, please make this a priority to have plenty before runners begin arriving.
Tailwind is provided as the electrolyte replacement drink, and some should be pre-mixed for runners. Be prepared to fill the bottles the runners carry as well as provide cups of liquid on the spot. Each runner or pacer will use about 2-6 pints of water, and 1 or 2 cups of soup.
Bladder-type water containers can be tricky, and you may need an extra set of hands to fill or properly close them without spilling.
Many runners will want hot soup, coffee, or tea to drink. Instant coffee is great, as you can always shovel extra into a runner's mug - especially at night they will want caffeine. Try to keep hot water on the stove or in thermos bottles so runners don't have to wait for you to bring it to a boil. Cola is also very popular - water, sugar and caffeine, all in one handy container! Some runners prefer it defizzed.
Food: Food at remote aid stations will vary depending on access. If you are hiking in, we don't expect you to pack in 20 pounds of bananas! Some food needs to be thawed or prepared beforehand. Arrange the food on a table according to type, and label it. Make sure you know what your hot food, vegetarian, vegan & gluten-free offerings are. Remember, some runners will want to stop & chat, but others will want to grab what they can and hit the trail before their muscles seize up or they lose their courage.
A typical aid station menu includes:
- Fig Bars
Stations with vehicle access likely will also have:
- Boiled Potatoes
- Boiled Sweet Potatoes
- Turkey Sandwiches
- Pumpkin Pie
- Bacon & Eggs
- Black Beans & Rice
Medical, Emergencies & Drops
Runner Drops / Pulling a Runner: It may become necessary to consider pulling a runner due to their medical condition. Generally, if a runner is not fit to go on, they will feel so bad (weak, nauseated, tired) that they will pull themselves. Only your Aid Station Captain (or their designee) has the authority to cut a runner's wristband, signifying the end of their run.
Generally, runners will bring up the topic of dropping first, due to feelings of weakness, nausea, or fatigue. They may vocalize their worries about a medical condition. If so, have your aid station medical personnel check them out so that either a situation can be properly diagnosed and dealt with, or the runner can be professionally reassured of their ability to continue.
Unless you have a valid medical reason to do otherwise, encourage the runner to continue, as they will likely feel quite angry about quitting next day when they have recovered. In these cases, put together a plate with a variety of foods to tempt the runner with, even if they say they are not hungry. Sit with them and spend 10 minutes simply visiting, and talking about anything other than the run. Don't discuss their intention to drop, but engage them with pleasant company and good food while they take some time to recover. If they persist in wanting to drop, engage your Aid Station Captain in the discussion. Tell them that they have all the time up until the mandatory cutoff time for your aid station to recover and get going again.
In rare cases, you may need to pull a runner despite their protests. All runners have committed to abide by the run rules, which includes the authority of Aid Station Captains and Medical Personnel to pull them for their own safety. In these cases, try to have the runner see that it is for their own safety, and for the safety of Search & Rescue personnel who might have to go looking for them. Finally, if the runner is being totally unreasonable, remind them that they can be disqualified from future Hardrock Hundreds if they do not comply.
Encourage runners who are on the edge of dropping to stay warm, eat and drink right up until the mandatory cutoff time. If there is even a chance they might recover, let them rest up, and see if their condition improves to where it is safe for them to continue. There are many stories of runners in a state of near collapse who rest for an hour or two, and then rise up like Lazarus and finish a run. There are also stories of those who go on while severely depleted and return to the aid station.
All runners will have been cautioned not to leave the run without advising a run official that they are doing so. Failure to account for runners who have gone home is the most common reason for unnecessarily activating Search & Rescue.
If a runner drops out, you may have to deal with how to get him/her transported to the finish. We have advised runners that there is no "limo" service. Keep them warm and dry, and tell them they will have to wait until a vehicle shows up. In the case of remote aid stations, the dropouts may elect to walk out or wait to go with the aid station crew if you have room.
Medical: There will be a Medical Briefing during the Volunteers Meeting on Thursday afternoon. Questions can be brought up and specific medical issues and symptoms will be discussed at that time. Volunteers with medical training may bring their own personal equipment to help evaluate runner's medical conditions (e.g., cuff and steth).
Follow the cardinal rule of First Aid: If you have any doubt in your ability to provide the necessary aid, immediately seek out more experienced help. All serious medical situations need to be reported to the Medical Directors, so they can monitor the situation and provide further assistance.
Most medical problems you will see will be minor: sunburn, blisters, sprains, abrasions and fatigue. Also, you will see runners in the later stages of the run who are extremely depleted in sugar and dehydrated. Later runners will usually be extremely fatigued and may be nauseated and vomiting. It is best to have them sit or lie down, get them warm, and try to get them to take sips of sugared and salted drinks. Do not let them go on if they are very confused or disoriented. Use the radio to get advice from a Medical Director if in doubt.
Common-sense approaches are the best. Use your instincts and experience, but when in doubt, keep the person warm, do not move if seriously injured, and always get help through the ham radio network as soon as possible.
IN ALL SERIOUS MEDICAL SITUATIONS, GET HELP THROUGH THE HAM RADIO NETWORK.
Emergencies: Every attempt has been made to have at least a trained EMT at each aid station, and you will have at least a standard first aid kit. Local Emergency Services are on-call during the run, and you can use your ham radio to call for help and real-time guidance. However, you are still largely on your own for emergencies, because it will take time for any help to reach you. Make sure to take care of yourself & fellow volunteers too - we don't want to have to be rescuing volunteers as well!
Serious Injury & Loss of Consciousness: If you are confronted with a person who is unconscious or semi-conscious, do not attempt to feed them or give them anything by way of mouth that they can aspirate (breath in). Keep the person warm and on their side.
If someone is injured, do your best to immobilize the injured part, and if there is swelling use ice. However, if the person is cold it is more important to keep them warm than to decrease swelling.
If someone is badly injured, do not move them, as you can do more harm than good. Keep them warm and wait for professional assistance.
Search and Rescue (S&R): Trained Search and Rescue units exist at the four towns. These all have been advised of the run, will be On Call during the weekend and are familiar with the area, weather and effects of high altitude. The RD (or his designee) has the sole authority to activate S&R so that our run communications and the S&R communications can be coordinated. Most times, after S&R is activated, the runner shows up at an aid station. We want to be able to halt S&R operations promptly if this occurs.
A local helicopter service has been briefed on the run, and each aid station has a designated helicopter landing zone. This service will only be activated as a last resource, and must be coordinated through the Run Director in Silverton. The service is expensive, and each runner will be responsible for the cost. However, in the case of a life-threatening situation it may be the only choice.
Keeping the Hardrock Green
A core value of the Hardrock Hundred is responsibility to the lands on which we run and the communities in which we operate. It is our responsibility to reduce negative impacts every chance we get. To reduce our impact, aid stations will be equipped with:
- A set of reusable cups, dishware and backcountry wash kit. No disposable dishware will be provided by the run.
- Three colors of bags for separating trash, recycling and compost. Your ASC will receive information on drop-off locations for each, with the default being the Legion in Silverton.
- Directions to the aid stations from Silverton, Colorado