Yes, the Romp is past, but you can still donate and support the fight against breast cancer until March 31! Click here to donate.
It's 4am on a Saturday. Even the dog doesn't want to get up this early. She stretches and slowly leads me downstairs so I can feed her. Poor girl, she thinks she's going hiking, but today's not her day.
Instead, I get the truck completely packed in the pouring rain and crank up the heat. I've got pillows and blankets in the back so when I bring my Junior Ambassadors down, still in their jammies, they can curl up and get a little more sleep on the two hour drive. (Did they? Mostly. Did I? Nope. Two coffee stops ensured I was both jittery and having to pee so I couldn't fall asleep behind the wheel.)
Just after 7am we pulled into the parking area to see pink everywhere... and the rain still falling. At least there was snow. However, that was only because Steven's Pass, our host, had moved snow onto the course for the event.
And what event? Romp to Stomp, of course. What else would drag not just me, but the kids out of bed so early?
For the last three months I've been wearing my mountain tutu to remind people that the Romp was coming. Many of my posts on moosefish and on social media have had a pink tinge to them. Some of those pictures weren't the most flattering and some elicited the kind of horrified reaction I saw when I posted pictures of my broken hand. (Don't blame me if you clicked that link.) As strange as it was to see me in a tutu, it certainly served its purpose and raised a few bucks for the cause.
Finally, the day had arrived and in spite of the rain it was awesome. How could it not be?
700 people gathered together on snowshoes to fight breast cancer! Spirits were high even though the temperatures were, too.
If you've never been to a Romp it goes something like this:
Staff and volunteers arrive freakishly early to set up.
3k Snowshoe racers start. (If you thought I was crazy to wear a tutu, running in snowshoes is way crazier.)
Lil' Rompers run the Dash.
Rompers take to the course, choosing the 3k or 5k route.
Closing ceremony, prizes, party!
While the kids got ready in the car (they were still in jammies when we rolled up) I did whatever I could to help set up. I put up signs, I hauled heavy things, I reached tall things, whatever.
As the bulk of the Rompers started arriving I retrieved the kids so they could do their part, too. It's important they understand that we're at the Romp to be of service, not just to have fun. Unfortunately, Miss Kelsey (as they called the Tubbs Marketing Manager) made it way too fun for them. Plus, their job allowed them to stay under the tent and out of the rain! How will they learn the value of sacrifice to a cause if they're smiling and dry?
Each and every Romper that made their way to the registration tent had to walk right by the Tubbs tent and therefore right by Lilly and Henry waving pink bandanas. "Get your pink here!" "You need more pink!" "Pink it up!" Not many could refuse. Those that did were chased down by Henry. And yes, both he and Lilly were wearing pink tutus. (As was I and just about every other staff member and volunteer.)
Other that keeping an eye on my kids to make sure they didn't get too seduced by the dark art of marketing I helped Rompers new to snowshoeing get their snowshoes on. It's second nature to me, but the straps and buckles can be intimidating. I was so engrossed that Henry was almost late for the Lil' Romper Dash.
Last year, Clara won the Dash, but this year she wasn't in the running (ha!) so she would be ready for a ballet performance in the evening. Lilly didn't want to run so Henry decided he was going to win. So he did. I don't know if it's determination or stubbornness, but when he puts his mind to it, he's pretty likely to accomplish his goal. He sailed to victory with his arms outstretched.
When it was our turn to head out on the course we tackled the 3k route. I mentioned it before, but it's worth stating it again. The snow on the trail was remarkably good, but only because Stevens Pass put it there for us. There were spots in the trees that were bare and there were a couple of wet spots near the trail, but our route was all snow.
Well, until we went off the official 3k route to go through the trees. After all, snowshoeing on a road is just walking on a road and who really likes to do that? Instead, we followed a twisting, turning trail that ran between the roads. As a bonus, the trees sheltered us from the rain a bit.
3k didn't take us long so we were quickly back at the main Romp where the closing ceremony was about to start. The kids don't get it yet, but this is the part that means the most to me. Not because it's when there are prizes and free stuff, but because it's when the purpose of the Romp crystalizes.
This year there were flags for breast cancer survivors that Romped with us and a Tribute Wall full of ribbons. We raised $31,000 for education, outreach, and research in the Puget Sound.
Of course, Henry got up on stage to receive his first place medal for the Dash. Even though Miss Stephanie, the Romp Events Manager had spent time with Henry while we assembled the goodie bags she let him talk into the microphone without the usual three second delay. Needless to say, he got laughs and great looks from "his fans" and then turned and waved.
This is when most everyone else headed home. However, we weren't done. The kids headed to the car to get into dry clothes while I helped tear down the tents and haul heavy things.
It only stopped raining when we were 20 miles east of the Romp on our way to the Pink Party. It's another sign that the kids are growing up that they were happy to go to a bar with a bunch of people they didn't know and hang out for a couple of hours. Henry shredded the dance floor while Lilly and I terrorized the Tubbs snowshoe engineers.
We finally got home around 7:30pm. It was a long day of driving and snowshoeing and kicking cancer in the butt. We were all beat, far more than if we'd gone to work and school and managed our usual schedule of evening activities. But we had done our part to make a difference and that made it easy to keep going all day long.
Now we're looking forward to the 2016 Romp and hoping for maybe a little more snow next year.