A lot has been written about the logistics of crewing. But having been crewed once, and having observed other crews, and been crewing Sweet Baboo for the past few years, I felt like I wanted to weigh in on some other aspects of crewing. I had a pretty good crew to work with this weekend, and I am grateful for it. I forgot for a few minutes that I was supposed to be in charge but overall, our crew was pretty great.
What follows is long, but I feel it's important.
First, If you are expecting a grateful runner, and running in with them to the finish, and you're hurt because someone snapped at you or you didn't get to be in charge, or your feelings are hurt because someone else got to help your runner or you didn't, get over it. You are there to work. Put your self-entitlement aside. Crewing is about getting the runner to the finish line safely, and as comfortably as one can finish 50, 100k, or 100 miles. It's about the runners. Being there is a privilege, and it's hard work. It you can't accept that, you shouldn't be crewing.
The crew should have a crew chief. The crew chief alone communicates with the runner and the pacer and then gives directions to the crew. The chief should be take-charge, and familiar with crewing and ultra-running. If you have an idea, make a suggestion during a calm moment. Do not argue while caring for the runner. If only one person is allowed into an aid station, that is the crew chief. Do not get caught up having your feelings hurt. It isn't about you. It's about the runners.
Be prepared to perform grooming in a car. Be ready for all your meals to be "to go". Pack as though you were camping. Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers. Be prepared to not get enough sleep. If the crew chief says we are leaving now, be ready to be left behind if you aren't ready to move. Maybe they'll be back for you. Maybe you'll need to catch another ride with another crew. Put aside pride, the need to be recognized, to be pretty, to smell good, and to party. This is work. Don't get all pissed off because you didn't get your favorite food, or couldn't follow your special diet for 24 hours. If the runner gets a little bitchy and snaps at you, get over it. If you want a fun weekend, then be a spectator and stay out of the way. You have no "rights." Ask if you can have something from the aid station. Move back and out of the way. It is not about you. It is about the runners.
Notice that I said "runners". We want everyone to finish. If you see another runner in distress, help them. Don't tell another crew that you're "saving this space" for "our runner". We are all working together for the runners. If you couldn't make it on time to an aid station to help your runner, you'd want someone to help them out, right? Help out others. And always thank the volunteers. Even the cranky ones. It isn't about you. It's about the runners.
Finally, anyone that requires special care, and/or does not provide direct care to the runner, should not be there. Children and pets are spectators, not crew. They lack the capacity for the selflessness that is needed for crewing. This is not the time to have family time, or teach them valuable lessons. It wastes time that is needed to care for the runner. Take them to one or two spectating areas and let them work in signs and cheer, bur don't drag them to every aid station. They get in the way. They need sleep and don't understand why it is cold, or hot, or raining, and they get tired and hungry.
Remember, It's about the runners. Work or get out of the way. Your satisfaction should be from knowing that you helped another person accomplish something amazing. You may be recognized for this. You might not. Be honored that you are witness to the pain, and joy, and suffering. That is what crewing is. It is nothing else.
Sunday, July 08, 2012