There are two major events conducted annually in the Sierra Nevada -- the 100 mi Western States Endurance Run (WSER), and the 100-mi Tevis Cup Endurance Ride. Communications support for each event is normally provided by amateur radio operators, and in 2004, involved something around 90 licensed amateurs, about half again that number of unlicensed helpers, and an extensive VHF and UHF repeater infrastructure.
Both events have a Network Control Station in Auburn. Additionally, the WSER uses 24 checkpoints/aid stations and the Tevis uses about a dozen. Some of the checkpoints are easily accessed and some are not, but most will have radio operators.
If you are a licensed amateur radio operator and would like to be a part of the communications team, you'll be welcomed with open arms. VHF and UHF mobile or hand-held capability is required at the checkpoints, however all equipment is supplied at the NCS in Auburn. The Communications Coordinator for both events for 2005 is Ralph Lucas, W6RWL. If you are interested in volunteering, there is a sign-up form at wstrail.org/comm.
If you are not licensed you can still contribute! Many of the checkpoints are large, and the licensed operators can always use help keeping track of the checkpoint staff, delivering and receiving messages, and helping keep emergency communications on-track. The Event Control also has positions for assistants to help post entrant progress, assure that field requests are being handled, and managing the logs and other paperwork involved with the event. You may even decide you'd like to obtain your very own ham license ... it is very easy these days.
Western States Endurance Run
The WSER is always run on the last full weekend in June. Beginning in Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe at 0500 on Saturday morning, about 400 runners will depart for Auburn via the historic Western States Trail through some of the most rugged terrain in the US. Finishers will climb a total of 18,000 feet, descend 22,000 feet, and will cover 100.2 miles to reach the finish line at Placer High School stadium. In 2004, Scott Jurek arrived at 2040 (8:40 PM), an event record. Scott again won the 2005 event, however his time was nearly an hour off his record due to the heavy snow at the summit. The remainder have a total of 30 hours to get to the finish. Visit www.ws100.com for a guided tour of the event. The two photos were taken by Matt Cobb, W6KDJ, at the Devil's Thumb checkpoint during the 2002 event. (There is a huge volcanic outcrop right on the edge of the canyon at this place which is visible from the other side. It looks like a giant thumb sticking up which is where the place gets its name).
Tevis Cup Endurance Ride
The Tevis is a similar event on horseback, and actually predates the WSER by a number of years 2004 was its 50th anniversary. It too begins in the Tahoe area at Robie Equestrian Park, and covers much of the same course as the run. There are mandatory checkpoints manned by veterinarians who examine the horses and who have the authority to pull any entrant from the event. The Tevis is usually (but not always) held on the first weekend nearest the full moon after July 4. The official Tevis web site is at www.foothill.net/tevis.
Sweep Riders of the Sierra
The photo in the upper left corner of this page is of David and Sue Jessen. Both are members of the Sweep Riders of the Sierra (SoS), the mounted patrol that rides behind the last entrant, assures no one is left on the trail, and gives aid and transportation to injured entrants. SoS members undergo rigorous equestrian and first aid training, each must qualify with their horse, and most of the members are licensed amateurs. Their helmet-mounted antennas are visible in the photo.
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