Friday, August 28, 2009

Search and Rescue

Last night I went for a six mile run on the trails that are basically a half mile from my house. I met my rogue trail running group there which consisted of two sets of couples and myself.

We set off together knowing that myself and another woman would be leading the pack (I was introducing them to my trails) and the second couple would be taking up the rear with my partner’s husband running in the middle.

We agreed upon a six mile run. Out three miles. Back three miles. Simple right? How can you get lost when you’re running back on the same course you ran out not to mention a course that parallels the local bike trail? Well, sometimes, getting lost is not the only thing that can happen on a trail run and it doesn’t have to be a trail up in Auburn for something out of the ordinary to happen.

Upon returning to our starting location, we noticed that my running partner’s husband, who was between us and the slow group went missing. He was with us at the turn around but he never appeared at the finish spot, a local park. We waited. And waited. Finally his wife and I decided to head back out onto the bike trail to see if we can see him thinking that perhaps he got lost. Nothing. Other local runners said they saw no one matching his description.

Of course he did not have his cell phone on him. Why would he? We didn’t have ours. Problem #1. Problem #2 is that his wife locked her purse with her cell phone in HIS trunk therefore if some how he did manage to reach a phone who would he call? He didn’t know me well enough to know my cell phone number (Problem #3) and of course I didn’t have my phone on me either (Problem #4 aka underestimating my own local trails).

It grew dark and fast and there were no sign of this man. Despite his great physical fitness, he also has a history of heart attacks which of course would frighten any wife who has witnessed him having one in the past.

I left my friends and raced home to get my road bike. I figured I could cover more mileage on the bike trail if I had my bike AND my cell phone. So off I went on my bike in pitch blackness up the bike trail for miles and miles going on a lead that some local runner had spotted our guy running in the wrong direction.

There was no sign of him. I finally ran into (actually had to chase/flag down) a female Park Ranger Truck I saw up on the levee. I told the ranger our situation and she took down my information and took off in her truck to cover the miles ahead of me that I had not covered yet. I turned around to report to the Wife that I had reached a Park Ranger. On my way back I ran into another Park Ranger who was out searching as well. I informed him of our meeting spot and that the missing person’s wife was there. Problem #5 is that I did not even know the last name of the man I was running with! I did know what he was wearing though.

I finally made it back to his wife and we sat and waited until the male Park Ranger returned. He said he wanted one person waiting at the park with a phone and he wanted another with him in the truck to show him the last spot we had seen our friend. Since I knew the area, that person was me. I handed my bike and phone to the Wife and hopped into the Park’s Off Road vehicle and onto the bike trail.

Now, for years Vans has given me grief about having too many “running gadgets.” My favorite running gadget however is my Garmin and boy did it come in handy last night. We were able to track our exact route including the turn-around spot via my Garmin! Score one for technology!

En route to the turn-around spot the Ranger and I talked over the radio with Park's dispatch headquarters and the City Police Department (who was en route to talk to Wife).

Luckily, before we had to search much further, dispatch notified us that the missing runner, our friend, had been found. He was back at the park with his Wife. A quick U turn was made on the bike trail and the Park Ranger drove me back to park to meet my missing friend.

As it turns out, my friend got a leg cramp on the return portion of the run. He climbed off the dirt trail and onto the bike path and then ultimately onto the surface streets and was hobbling back to the park. He had been hobbling for an hour and 45 minutes.

I learned many valuable lessons last night:
1. Carry my cell phone. Always. The Park Ranger actually told me that even if you are knocked unconscious, you can be found by tracking the satellite on your phone (very circa 24 like, go Jack Bauer);
2. Know the numbers (and last names) of those you are running with; and
3. I now have (Thanks Park Ranger Dude) the Park’s Emergency Headquarters number in my phone should future emergencies occur while running on the trails.

So my “easy” six mile trail run last night turned into a six mile run, with a few additional miles added on not to mention about an 8 mile speedy bike ride (w/o bike shoes) on and off the bike trail. I eventually make it home past 9 pm to find a very worried Vans waiting for me.

Lesson learned and noted.

No comments:

Post a Comment