Orcas Island. In 2012, we volunteered. Last year, we ran. This year, we were there as staff, newly minted members of the Rainshadow Running team.
Unlike in previous years, we elected to stay at Doe Bay, in part because it came highly recommended and in part because it promised free wi-fi, and we knew we'd have work to do. And it was gorgeous, at least when it wasn't raining and we weren't shivering. (Unheated yurts, not surprisingly, are not warm in the winter.) But the wi-fi didn't work (nor did we have cell service), our camp stove was cranky, and it was at least a twenty-minute drive to anywhere. So, we learned a few things for next year.
As for the work part: Working with Rainshadow is going to be hard, and we're going to be exhausted after races, but it's also exhilarating. The 50k Saturday went really well, as did all our pre-race prep work, and we're slowly getting the hang of the back-end work we'll be doing for Rainshadow, to help make the business more efficient and professional, and to take some of the load off of James, the Race Director.
We did some things we'd done at Rainshadow races before - course marking, helping with volunteers, last minute logistics - but we also did plenty of things for the first time, and I think for both of us that was part of the challenge, but also part of the fun. We're learning, but also taking skills we already have and applying them in new ways.
I think for both of us that's part of the excitement of Endless Trails, too: Taking what we've already practiced elsewhere and putting it together in a new way, in a way that is our own, toward an aim we believe most fervently in. We're passionate about trails, about enjoying them and about protecting them, and this newest chapter in our lives allows us to take skills we've practiced elsewhere (outdoor education, grant-writing, freelance writing) and put them to use in a way that feels more right than maybe anything either of us have ever done before, short of making a life together.
This connection to the trails feels like an extension of our marriage, really, a central tenet of who we are, and working with Rainshadow to help make these trail races even better is likewise an extension of that connection to, and love for, trails and the local and extended trail running community.
Last weekend was a big step forward. There are many more yet ahead, and we're endlessly excited to take them one by one, toward whatever trails and logistical adventures may come.