I'm crewing for my friend next weekend at the Graveyard 100. It will be her second attempt at the 100 mile distance. (First time around she had a DNF at mile 90). We've got a gang of five to crew, with me and two others pacing her on the back half.
It's my first time crewing and I'm looking for any suggestions. My friend says she will have everything planned out (we're meeting later today), but I was wondering if I should also pack an "emergency bag" in the crew car of stuff she might need but forgets, or loses, or whatever.
On pacing, what do you think works best? Beside or ahead of the runner?
Also, for you ultra runners out there, what has picked you up when you hit that dark spot? Something funny? Encouragement? From what I've read about the race, it gets pretty rough between miles 63-88 or so.
I'm crewing for my friend next weekend at the Graveyard 100. Crewing is incredibly fun! I'll be crewing for my friend, Kate, at Western States 100 in June.
Your friend should have worked most everything out of what she needs, including drop bags for those stations where no crew is allowed. Where you can get to her, if you have to walk, a couple of backpacks work really well. One for food stuffs, electrolyte replacements, etc., and one for clothing, extra shoes, socks, blister kits, etc.
When at the aid stations, have everything ready and out in the open for her for when she arrives so she can get in and out ASAP.
Make sure you know how to replace the batteries in her head lamp for the night time. At Kate's first 100, this cost her time 'cause we couldn't figure out how to open her pacer's headlamp.
Once your runner leaves the aid station, spend the next few minutes getting your things together and ready for the next one - preparing her bottles (or her replacement fluid bladder) and putting them in the cooler if she wants them cold, preparing any snacks she's wanting (i.e. sandwiches, etc.). Get as much done as you can before moving on to the next aid station. You should have plenty of time and, if for any reason you get delayed, you'll know all you have to do is grab your backpacks and go.
Asked your friend how she usually functions late in the game. Is she able to make decisions, or does she get rummy? Does she do better with very basic choices late in the game, i.e., asking "Do you want arm sleeves or a jacket" as opposed to "What do you want to wear now that it's getting cold."
When pacing, she'll probably need you to keep track of how much fluid and how many calories she's ingesting each hour, when she last took a salt pill, that sort of thing. They often fall asleep while walking and/or hallucinate, and sometimes won't make sense during the nighttime hours. These are all things to keep in mind.
On pacing, what do you think works best? Beside or ahead of the runner? Your runner will tell you where she wants you.
When she starts to wane and talks about stopping, tell her "Let's just get to the next aid station and see how things are going." When you get to that aid station and she starts talking about stopping, repeat yourself. "Let's get to the next aid station and see how things are going." It's much easier to think about the race in small segments, and it's amazing how, mentally, knowing you "just have to get to the next aid station" gets you moving from segment to segment. Kate used that tactic with me during my first ultra. Having to only think 6 miles at a time as opposed to, saying "You only have 25 miles to go!" is much easier to digest mentally.
Also, for you ultra runners out there, what has picked you up when you hit that dark spot? Something funny? Encouragement? From what I've read about the race, it gets pretty rough between miles 63-88 or so. The longest I've run is 50 miles, but I have crewed at a couple of 100's. Kate gets to the point during the night where she can't talk much, but she likes to be talked to. Personally, when I was getting in the dumps at my 50, it helped to have someone chattering to me, even though I couldn't really say so. I didn't care if they sang, talked, crack jokes, whatever - just so long as there was something else to concentrate on besides how bad my legs felt.
If you have 5 people crewing, try to designate someone as the official photographer. When there were three of us on the crew for Kate, I took tons of pictures, and it ended up being so great for Kate for memories later.
Also VERY IMPORTANT - Since you're pacing, don't forget to take care of yourself. It's going to be an exciting day, but it's also going to be a very long time for everybody. You need to remember to eat and rest, as well, or you're going to be exhausted when it's your time to pace.
Have fun. I'm so looking forward to your crewing report. And GOOD LUCK to your runner!!
Leslie Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain -------------
Trail Runner Nation
I would say to ask her which she prefers.
Hi TriBee! I haven't run or crewed an ultra (yet) so I have no advice, but just wanted to say good luck and have fun! Or as Dove says, "It's like having fun, but different."
I hammered down the trail, passing rocks and trees like they were standing still.
Fatozzig--great suggestions! Part of what I'm having to balance is my ocd nature when it comes to races, vs. my friend, who is pretty relaxed about these things. It turns out she has put together quite a crew though--four family members and four friends. No pacing for the first 50 miles, and it's funny because on the back half she doesn't want her family pacing her. For the back half we're going to split into two shifts, with a driver and two pacers for each shift, so the most I'm likely to be on the course is 6-8 hours.
Mike--I asked my friend which she prefers and she said she didn't know, she's never had a pacer before.
Wildchild--good to hear from you. Got any races coming up?
You'll get over some of your OCD at this race. 100 milers are too unpredictable. And that is quite the crew! When Karen and I go to WS with Kate, it'll be the two of us and Kate's pacer for the first 50 miles, then she'll pick up her pacer . . . and we'll be consuming copious amounts of coffee to get through the rest of the night.
If you're interested, here's my crewing report for Western States back in 2010. Oh what fun we had!
Thanks for the link. The crew is letting me put it to good use by making up a schedule so that everyone knows what they are supposed to do and when they are supposed to do it.
DNS on my first 100 mile crew. My back went out on me Thursday am, and I would have been more of a liability than anything else if I tried to crew.
Waiting to hear from some of the crew, as it looks as though the race has been turned upside down. Originally it was a point to point starting in Corolla heading south to Hatteras. Just a couple of hours ago, the only road to Hatteras (hwy 12) was closed due to storm damage, so the RD has turned it into an out and back. All of my racer's pacers were staying in a house in Hatteras, and I don't know if they are able to get north of the road closure.