P2P No Volunteerism Fee?

If you haven’t heard, the sexy cougar collector from the Rogue River Valley is directing a new 100 miler in the state of Oregon.  With the demise of one-time race Hundred In The Hood, mid to late September opened up for a new ultra in Oregon and Hal Koerner, owner of the greatest ultrarunning store in the west (I might say the same about you Auburn or Seattle Running Co or Fleet Feet Bend if you put my picture on your wall), jumped on it.  The new Pine To Palm 100, to be held on September 18, is a point-to-point course from Williams, near the southern Oregon coast, to Ashland.  The course looks great, and even includes some peak-bagging in the middle of the night.  I don’t plan to run it, but since I won’t be working Pinheads at Hundred in the Hood, I’ve been lobbying Hal for a remote awesome aid station at P2P.

Did anybody else notice that P2P does not have a volunteer requirement?  Or, as Monkeyboy likes to refer to them, a volunteerism fee.  What?  No forced volunteerism?  How are they going to get volunteers?  Who’s going to work on the trails?  Some of you may recall my first post in the WS synchroblog project last January, when I made a plea to the WS board of directors to Reconsider Mandatory Volunteerism.  If you haven’t read it please go do it now and then come back.  No, I don’t like the concept of mandatory volunteerism.  And, I believe the only way we can end the madness is if WS sets the standard.  I applaud you, Hal, for thinking.  Perhaps you’ll influence future 100 mile RDs to at least think about it before they implement one.  And for those of you who think we should be encouraging runners to give back to the sport by requiring volunteering, please explain to me why shorter trail races don’t have such requirements?  I mean, if we’re going treat ultrarunners like high school kids, why don’t we get them early when they are doing 50Ks, 50 milers, and 100Ks?  Just think about how many more hours of free labor we’d have.  Or why not have a volunteer fee just to get into the big lotteries?  Come on, somebody tell me why I’m wrong.


    • @ScottD, How did they manage that? Their trails are probably going to pot. Either that or they’re mooching the free labor via the requirement from other 100s that do have a requirement. 🙂

      If you’re done with all your racing by September you should consider coming up to P2P and volunteering (for real) with us.

  1. I know that in some cases, like here in the Wasatch, permits are tough to come by. Many of the trails cross National Forest land. If the race director adds a few volunteers to the trail clean-up pool the chances of the permit getting issued go up significantly.

    Also, with Forest Service budgets continually getting cut, they rely on volunteers to maintain trails more and more. I for one don’t mind putting in 8 hours a year on trails I use all the time. It just seems like the right thing to do, even if I would rather be running…

    • @Christian Johnson, I’m glad you don’t mind putting in 8 hours a year on trails. Please read my post I wrote last January and you’ll understand where I come from in that respect. Do you personally need the requirement from a 100 miler to do 8 hours on the trails you use? And, are permits easier to get for 50Ks, 50 milers, 100Ks in Wasatch? Do any races of those distances in your forests require volunteer hours? Why not?

      • @Craig, Craig,
        Great post from last January, perhaps I should have read it before responding to your latest.
        Yes, I need the volunteer requirement to get into the 100’s I decide to do. I see where you are coming from with your earlier post.

        No, permits are virtually impossible to obtain on Forest Service land in the Wasatch unless you have an established race. Just ask Meltzer about trying to use public land for his 50k.

        There a few (2 I can think of) shorter trail runs that do not require trail work and cross National Forest land. But you know, 100 milers spend much more time on the trail, therefore the impact must be greater. I can only speculate why they do not require trail work.

    • Then why don’t they require mountain bike races & horse endurance events to do the same. Living in horse country & being an owner of several horses, I can attest to the fact that they do far more damage to the trail then running does. Just look at the States course by the end of the summer!The descent to No Hands from Cool is covered in so much brown powder, you can ski it!
      I have run & mountain biked many an event on parts of the States course and the 100 is the only event that has this requirement attached to entry.
      The FS being more likely to grant permit for the event with the stipulation of trail work being performed on land that tax payers already pay to have maintained & sustained by said agency may have some legal issues coming there way I would immagine. And if this was the case, every event would have the same requirement. Can’t discriminate. That’s illegal also.

  2. I thought for a moment that the volunteer requirement might be related to the demand for the race but I suppose wtc blows that idea out of the water.

    As for your photo on the wall. Should we hit your Mum up for one next time she pops into the shop in Auburn looking for a pair of wild shorts for you?

  3. Craig,
    I’m still trying to wrap my mind around your whole philosophy on this, and all I can come up with is that you’re a 100% supporter of trail maintenance, but you hate that someone has to require it of you. Sort of the Libertarian train of thought- free will and all that stuff.

    Recognizing this and in line with MonkeyBoy, maybe RDs could just put an extra couple lines on the entry form

    Entry $XXX
    I chose (to/not to) perform documented trail svc +/- $YYY

    plus or minus depending on whether you weight the initial fee higher or lower to compensate. Additional money goes to a local trail outfit that will do the work.

    Then at least either way something decent gets done for a local trail. Oh and by the way, the Oakridge Trails Group is now a 501(c)3, so when you make your donation for me after the Pickle Puff, you’ll get a Tax deduction!

    Very Truly Yours- WT

    • @whitetrash, Seems like many people make the assumption that we won’t get the trailwork done without the mandatory requirement. Take away the requirement and the work won’t get done. I don’t believe that is true. I believe that we can do a lot of work on trails and staff every ultra with enthusiastic volunteers without a requirement. And, we might even feel better about it because we weren’t forced to do it. We need good leaders and opportunities to help, not a requirement.

      You know very well that the mountain biking community in Oakridge/Eugene does a ton of trailwork each year. They kick our butts in terms of people hours on the trail. Does the Cascade Creampuff have a volunteer trail requirement? No. Does Mtn Bike Oregon have a volunteer trail requirement? No. Do any of the mountain bike races in Oakridge have a requirement? Not to my knowledge. Then how can they get so much trailwork done? Because they have leaders and opportunities.

      Another example is WS and the trailwork accomplished the last few years with Mark Falcone (and Twiet) spearheading the efforts. WS has gotten so much more done in the last few years than they ever had before. And they’ve had their volunteer requirement since 1998! It wasn’t the requirement that allowed the runners to finally do more work that the horse folks, it was the leadership and the opportunities that leadership provided.

      There are plenty of great leaders and opportunities to help with trail work or at races. I will soon post about the Westfir Volunteer training weekend in May where people can learn how to build trails, use saws, first aid, etc. We have a fantastic volunteer program in the Middle Fork District of the Willamette NF (High Cascade Forest Volunteers). This is a model volunteer program.

      BTW, have you decided how much money you’re willing to bet on the Pickle Puff? I still say $1000 to the other’s charity. If I lose, I’ll gladly write a $1000 check to Oakridge Trails Group. That would buy a nice big chainsaw.

        • @grae, Perhaps we also need an association so we can organize and coordinate our trail work efforts across the country like IMBA. Would be beneficial to all races on public land if potential RDs could point to all the work ultrarunners do on trails through the Trail Runners Association (or whatever). Do we already have an organization that could fill this niche? USATF? doubtful. If we did have TRA and it was a membership driven organization I might be able to support races requiring TRA membership to run the race. This might be much more effective than requiring 8 hours of volunteer trail work.

          Anybody want to take this project on? SLF? Twiet?

      • @Craig, Which weekend is the Westfir FS weekend, by the way?

        TRA is intriguing- essentially a loobying group that amasses the good work provided by trail runners, and promotes and organizes it.

        As for the wager amount, I think we can probably have a wager “summit”, maybe at the Peace Run, where we set the amount and get our respective backers to pony up as well.

        And no, if we’re near the finish together, I’m not going to participate in a Skaden/Wolfe thing and hold hands with you across the finish. We’re sprinting, and elbows are allowed!

  4. Olga comments: Hood didn’t seize and then Hal jumped into open space. Hal jumped (proposed), we hated our Forest lady, let ORRC decide, ORRC got concerned that we won’t find volunteers and runners competing with new race (and we thought you won’t come to Pineheads but rather hang out with you handsome cougar collector)…and so on, and so forth. It was sad to seize, but Glenda the Witch and ORRC new board did no help. Besides, Mike and I are REALLY looking forward RUNNING a 100 in OR! And, I actually hope somebody will ressurect Hood but with no cover. Interested?
    As for volunteerism fee. We made it so that very Glenda would see how caring we are and give us a permit. We didn’t ask runners for any prove papers and pretty much assumed all of us, trail runners, volunteer at one point or another. It was a cover up to put it on a form though.
    Now, which AS are you serving drinks at? Because I might need some love out there:)

  5. I know we (ultrarunning community) have an amazing group of people that cherish our trails, not only in Southern Oregon but across the country, and for that reason I suppose I supposed many of them already do their part. I also allowed for a generous time limit so as to see more people cross the finish line

    There are stipulations on these permits, that amount to a % of gross receipts. You can negotiate those fees down with trail work. So the race doesn’t pay for it, you do. I remember the first years of the Bear 100 and how they followed suit with Wasatch and required TW, their caveat was if you pay us the equivalent of $20 an hour we’ll find someone to do it for you.

    Just sayin’!

    • @roguevalleyrunners, Yes, the 5% gross revenue fee can be waived, but it can be waived for reasons other than trail work. Without naming races, there is at least one race in Oregon that has had the fee waived and they’ve done zero trail work. Bottom line is a race needs to have some positive impact for the FS to waive the fee. Oh, and don’t get any other users groups complaining about the race because the FS is all about conflict-avoidance.

  6. Gosh, has it been six months since we last rehashed this topic? My how time flies. Christian Johnson pretty much summed up my points.

    1. The Forest Service looks very positive to volunteer work, required or strictly volunteered. When WS was looking to preserve the trail, I’m sure the service requirement was used as an asset.
    2. The FS fees are somewhat flexible and having the service hours helps minimize the fee–as you mention above.
    3. There are plenty of runners (yes, even in our little utopia we call the Rogue River Valley) that only volunteer because some damn 100 miler requires it. I gladly manage their activity and sign the form, only wishing we’d see them more than once a year.
    4. Craig, you make the point that the only reason the mtn bikers get the turnout is because they have leadership and opportunities. I don’t agree. I think it is a cultural value that the biking community shares. We’ve had both groups (hikers/runners and mountain bikers) invited to one trail event and the mountain bikers outdrew the rest 8:1. Lots of the bikers showed up with their own trail work tools. I don’t see too many of us with our own Hazel Hoe.

    On your idea of a TRA. That sounds interesting. The mountain bikers association is quite active. I see no reason why we shouldn’t have some type of master organization, if for no other reason than visibility of our sport. Perhaps we could even develop an insurance plan for runners and race directors..Oh sh*t, don’t get me started. Next time you’re down let’s discuss over a box of red wine. I’m sure DC (Double Cougar) will contribute as well.

  7. One last thing: You out of your emoticon phase or what? The single one you used in the first comment sure looks lonely. It seems to be a emotive response thing. You get one, you pass it back.

    Just sayin’.

  8. Any comments regarding the volunteer situation prior to the requirement? Was it started based on need, or someone’s idea that it would be cool? Maybe it’s what the trail running community needed to raise our awareness, and force us to develop a mindset similar to the bikers. It’s difficult to legislate a cultural attitude.

    • @OD, We’ll need someone on the WS board to answer this, but I do know that until very recently (when Mark Falcone and Twiet started organizing the work parties) the horse people did the majority of the work on the WS trail. I don’t think anybody would dispute that. Now, runners do more than our fair share of work on the WS trail. I will continue to argue that it wasn’t the implementation of the volunteer requirement that caused this shift – it was Mark Falcone and Tim Twietmeyer.

  9. Craig- I’m still having a hard time understanding what the big deal is with the requirement. I think it’s that you just don’t want someone telling you that you have to volunteer? It cheapens your experience or something? Maybe I sort of get that, but how many people feel that same way? I’m guessing from the responses, not too many. Yes I think a majority of us happily volunteer anyways. Maybe we wouldn’t have at first without the requirement. I don’t know. If someone really doesn’t want to work, they are going to go fill water cups, and not move poison oak. I don’t think it’s a big enough deal to have to get rid of the requirement.

    “If we did have TRA and it was a membership driven organization I might be able to support races requiring TRA membership to run the race. This might be much more effective than requiring 8 hours of volunteer trail work.”

    With this I can perhaps see where you are coming from. I don’t really like being forced to do stuff. I don’t want anyone to tell me I have to be an official member of something just to run a race.

    • @Derek, thanks for the comment. I think you are correct that I’m in the minority here, but it isn’t going to stop me from trying to get the community to at least think about why we have them and whether they are working or not. Also, I don’t think I could articulate my argument any better than I did in my post last January. There really isn’t anything about mandatory volunteerism that I like, and that is from the perspective of an avid trail and race volunteer, RD who “benefits” from the requirements of other races (I put that in quotes because only a few of the 150+ people that volunteer at Waldo actually need me to sign their requirement form and I don’t know if any of them wouldn’t help without the requirement), and a 100 mile runner who is required to “volunteer”. Perhaps I do have Libertarian tendencies although I’ve never identified myself as such. Some may also label me as idealistic which I’m ok with.

      If the ultrarunning community doesn’t have the culture of volunteer trail work, as has been posited here, do you believe that forcing it on us in terms of volunteer requirements only at 100 mile races is going to create that culture? Is the goal to create that culture or just get the free labor and the bargaining power that some races seem to think they benefit from? I think we can and are building that culture in better ways.

      • @Craig,

        You did a fine job articulating in the original post. I understand what you were saying, I just don’t feel the same way I guess. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I don’t think the culture of volunteer trail work exists. I think it’s there, at least around NorCal. I do agree that Mark and Twiet have a huge responsibility for that though, and not the requirement. I don’t know why the shorter stuff doesn’t do it. It’s a good question. As much as some people race 50K’s and 50 milers, they would not have enough weekends to get their required volunteer hours in.

        It would be interesting to find out how much bargaining power actually exists from the WS trail work hours.

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