If this is your first time supporting a friend/family or a complete stranger on their ultra marathon or maybe you have done it before but it’s been a while, a little extra knowledge of things you can do is always good. Here are some tips from DTR ambassador Yvette Yu who has helped tons of runners by either crewing, pacing and both.
By Yvette Yu
This is what I have learned from crewing various runners attempting an ultra distance. I have also completed 2 x 100-mile races, a 100k, a 50 miler and a couple of 50ks.
Don’t forget to pack things for you.
As a crew member, you’re out there all day taking care of your runner so you need to eat, drink and take care of yourself throughout the race, too. Staying organized will help you as you get sleep deprived so make sure to keep your items separate from your Runner’s stuff.
Here is a quick checklist for your needs:
Pack for as long as your intended to stay. Aid stations are strictly for runners and pacers. The park does have a convenience store next to the start/finish that you can get some supplies but you don’t want to depend on their hours or the options they carry like the chocolate covered grasshoppers.. lol You also don’t want to depend on the food that is accounted for the runners at aid stations.
You want to have your own chair as you might be driving out to other crew access points and you want somewhere cozy until your runner gets to you. If it rains, a poncho will help you stay dry and comfy. Remember this could last 30 hours….
Have your runner go over with you where everything is prior to the race and make sure you know where everything is once you’ve set up your crew spot. The big Zip-lock bags are a great way to store items such as day-night Clothing/Gear, extra shoes/socks and you can have your runner label whatever is in the bag. Those bags are also waterproof so things can stay dry if it’s wet or raining out. Organization is everything and time is precious. You want to have everything ready and available when your runner gets to you and should not waste time trying to find stuff.
• Make sure your runner is in and out of the aid station.
• Make sure your runner is eating and drinking. A good tip is by seeing what is left in their pack. Example: Did they eat what they took with them on the last loop, how empty or full their pack is.
• Fill their bottles/packs with whatever hydration/nutrition they are using, i.e., Nuun, Tailwind, Gatorade, etc.
• Restock any food that’s been eaten from their pack, i.e. granola bars, protein bars, Gu’s, nuts, etc.
• Take care of any issues your runner may be experiencing like blisters, cramps, pain, chaffing or dehydration.
• You can throw in a butt rub too!! On a serious note, for tight muscles, maybe running the roller stick over tight muscles or a quick massage on the legs will help.
When the sun goes down is when the party begins. Lol!
When the time comes, make sure they have gear for the night time. If it’s chilly, your runner will need a jacket or some type of long sleeve. Don’t forget the headlamp with a brand new set of batteries and an extra set of batteries to go with it. Some also carry a flashlight, so make sure that’s ready as well.
I try to have everything out and ready to go so that once the runner gets to me I can fill everything, fix anything, pack everything and get them out of there and back to running…kinda like a pit stop at a car race, in and out!
Pacers are you ready???
Just a quickie about pacing. Here is where you can monitor eating and drinking and remind your runner to do so. Keep moving and try not to let your runner stop for too long. If there is an aid station coming up, run ahead with bottles/packs for refills and grab what your runners needs/wants so the runner is not wasting too much time by stopping. I always carry Advil or Ibuprofen on me as well as extra protein or snack bars just in case my runner wants something different.
Pacers and Crew
An important thing to keep in mind and track of is TIME, how much you have or don’t have. So if you can get him/her to get on a run/walk interval, that’s great. Remember, relentless forward progress. Load up on that caffeine and enjoy the night!! Sing to your runner, talk or not, play music…or not. Just keep your runner going!
Be positive and encouraging, the goal is to get your runner to the glorious finish line, hopefully in one piece, lol. Have fun with it!! It’s a great feeling to be able to help your runner reach their goal! Enjoy!