ST. GEORGE – In the early morning darkness Saturday, friends, family and even total strangers gathered together at mile marker 6 of the Southern Utah Half Marathon to provide racers with GU energy gels, Gatorade, water and words of encouragement to help them on their way to finishing 13.1 miles.
Anticipation was high as volunteers set to work filling hundreds of cups with water and Gatorade, preparing to pass out vanilla bean flavored GU packets and strategically placing trash cans for easy cup and package disposal on the run.
At mile marker 6 on Waterfront Drive, volunteers were ready for the nearly 1,000 racers, already spread out from the previous six miles, to come through their aid station looking for fuel and hydration.
The first male racer hit around 7:20 a.m. and flew by the station without pausing. Close on his heels were two other male racers. After a fair gap, the first female racer blistered through the aid station … and then the onslaught came.
From the time the first female passed until nearly the last runner came through, a steady stream of racers buzzed through the aid station taking fuel gels and drinks, using portable restroom facilities and heading down the Virgin River Trail toward the finish line.
Saturday marked the second running of the Southern Utah Half Marathon and though rains and high winds throughout Friday night had race director Steve Hooper nervous, he said, the weather turned out to be pretty great for racing.
An early drizzle made for wet volunteers at aid station six but the group remained happy and helpful as they encouraged runners towards their goals.
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