The Legend Of The Wild Cooler


Before I started training for marathons and more, I never considered things like hiding coolers in bushes. See, you should have fuel/nutrition on you for any run longer than an hour. And depending on your clothes/water bottle holder/etc – you can usually bring enough for two hours. But, unless you carry a camelback or a similar hydration pack, it’s really difficult to carry enough water for a run over an hour. And since whatever race you’re training for will have aid along the course, buying bags and pounches etc for training feels like a severe waste of money. And – the more gear you wear? The more places to get chaffed. I carried a waist pouch on my last marathon and it chaffed my back. (It had never chaffed me before that day – for the record. Which is the kind of shit that is irritating as hell.)

SO! Around here people try to run with friends and people hide coolers places. My running group takes their aid very seriously and we’ll have a few of us stashing aid around the town with food/fluids in it. We plan our long run in advance, and especially during the summer, make sure we have enough fluids/salts etc to sustain the group. We also try to know where there are bathrooms along the course, but none of us are against the emergency pee in the trees on the side of the road.

(I peed behind a dry cleaners the other day. It was before 5:30am and dark, and I didn’t see a security camera, but when you gotta go? You gotta go.)

Last year I had a cooler stolen. It was actually on a friend’s driveway, if you can believe it. And someone took it. Maybe it was too close to the road and they thought it was being trashed, so I wrote “Runner’s Aid” on my next cooler so no one would think it was being thrown out again. (For the record, the cooler was full of ice/gatorade/water – whomever took it had to know it was being used, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.)

Yesterday, my cooler was going to be at the halfway point of a 22-mile run. Therefore, I really didn’t want it to get stolen because we’d be in desperate need for aid at that point. Also, I was hiding it in some bushes at a church. I had a fear that some older lady volunteer would see it from the church and worry in this post-9/11 world that she was seeing something nefarious. SO! Besides the “Runner’s Aid” lable on the TOP of the cooler, I laminated a more detailed sign and even included my phone number in case anyone investigated it more closely.

It was still there when we got there at mile 12, and when I went back to get it a hair past 11:30. So…it worked I guess!

Just thought I’d share this store in case you ever stumble upon a cooler of gatorade in the wilderness anywhere. Also – If you know people run on your street, let them know that coolers can be left in YOUR bushes (not on your driveway! Jeez.) if they need. I have several friends who let me leave stuff in their yards sometimes and it’s always so nice. I’m sure every town has their popular running courses, so if you live on one, you would know it. Yesterday we saw no less than 20 people NOT in our group training on the marathon course. If we were close to one of our aid drops we even told them were to find stuff if they needed it! We even passed an aid stop that wasn’t ours.

So…one more secret from the running community to shed some light on it. And also – so that when/if you ever do the same someday – you’ll leave a sign too…just in case. Because there’s nothing worse than looking forward to aid on a long run and it just…NOT BEING THERE.

3 thoughts on “The Legend Of The Wild Cooler”

  1. Annonying when people steal your aid! I used to do this when I lived in NO and ran the levee – hid coolers on the batture. They were stolen more than half the time depite clear labels. 🙁

  2. This happens for long-distance hiking as well. Most hikers carry enough from town to town but lots of people place “trail magic” coolers of heavier, perishable items by easy-access road crossings. And on trails through desert (some areas of the PCT and CDT) water caches are mandatory to make it through.

  3. This is BRILLIANT! We are fortunate to have our local running store sponsor a training program for the upcoming St. Jude Memphis Marathon (our first) including water stops (and encouragement/coaching) along the courses. But this is a great idea as well!

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