Monday, August 23, 2010

Crewing Notes:

I liked crewing for Baboo and am already processing it and working on ideas to make it easier, more fun, and more useful for him.  

Why I liked crewing:
  • In ultra running, there is the tactic acknowledgement that the crew is critical.  You're not just a tangential bystander; you're part of a team.
  • Although it's good to have a runner that is hyper-organized, ultimately, they can get a little loopy and make poor decisions.  The job of the crew, including the pacers, to make decisions FOR them.  Eat this now.  Drink this.  Have you gone to the bathroom lately?  You're warm?  Fine.  You don't want an extra shirt for going up over that mountain pass?  Well, tie this shirt around your waist, in case you need it. 
  • It's a great way to be involved in this event in case you are not insane enough to want to actually run 100 miles.  :)

What worked:
  • We used a little cabinet with drawers that were see-through.  This was very useful.  It was easy for me to find things that were arranged: medical, nutrition, hot weather stuff, cold weather stuff, nighttime running stuff.  
  • I made a chart for each aid station, telling me what I needed to do, inside a tiny notebook.  I would just flip to the page, and it would tell me about what time he was expected, and what he would need.  
  • We emptied one side of the element and laid down a futon mattress and a thick quilt.  While waiting for Baboo at night, I was able to get a few minutes of Zzzzz.  Before he reached May Queen inbound, I was able to get about 2 hours.  This was pretty important since I was getting ready to run 15 miles with him and had been up for over 24 hours already.
  • Prior to the race, Baboo and I had driven around to each aid station and loaded it into our Garmin Nuvi.  When it was time for me to drive to the next aid station, I didn't have to think - all I had to do was call it up and it told me how to get there.  
What didn't work / Needs changing:

  • Baboo needs a way to get calories for when it's really hot or he's going up a steep climb, and they need to be in liquid form, because his stomach gets upset - he'll even throw up.  These need to be just very lightly flavored so he won't get sick of it.   I'm thinking of Succeed.  Baboo likes it, so I'm going to have him test it on a hot hard run.

  • Next time, instead of the little notebook, I'm going to use a index-card flip book.  Each aid station notes will involve expected times of arrival, what he's just done (just crossed a river, so he's got wet shoes and wet socks.) what he's about to do (he's got another climb ahead of him, will need more liquid calories, electrolytes, fluids, and clean socks.)  I can get this information from the race course profile, aid station descriptions, and the course map.

  • I am usually crewing Brian alone.  At Leadville, I had to park a ways away at some of the aid stations.  I need stuff that's transportable and on wheels.  Leadville gave out crew vehicle tags, but I'm not sure why, because I had to fight for parking along with spectators.  It would be nice in the future if Leadville did something with those tags, like limit parking near the aid stations to those with "CREW" vehicle tags.  This was critical at Winfield, where I had to wait in line for quite some time.  I would respectfully suggest that at Winfield, which is the smallest area in the race for parking, they limit it to ONLY crew members.  

  • We had awesome pacers. In the future, I'd like to have extra supplies on hand for them.  

    • I need an organizer that's on wheels, or at least something that can hold clear containers and is on wheels.  I'm thinking of this rolling thing.   
    • I need a small folding table.  I'm thinking of a cooler that has sides that flip up and become a small table.  This would be good for carrying cold drinks, and Baboo can sit on it, as well.   
    • For races that we fly to, instead of the cooler, I need a folding chair that is easy to carry.  This one (above, left) can be carried as a backpack.  I'll also need to bring a sleeping bag liner because those nights get chilly, for waiting.  
    • I need to bring real food for myself - cruising the aid station, when I'm not doing running, is not a good idea. The food is designed to provide lots of fast calories and sodium, neither of which I need while crewing.  
    • Some of the crews there had ways to make themselves visible to their runners, such as bright colors, a large estrella on a stick, and lights on their vehicle at night.  I'm going to try to find something like this.  


    1. Those are some great tips. Congratulations on crewing the SB to an amazing finish. Even though I'm sure he's told you this many times already, you made a huge difference in his race, a good crew is worth their weight in gold.

    2. Anonymous10:38 PM

      Interesting post! I've never thought about a race from a crewing perspective - it's a really great way to give back and support a runner!

    3. Wow, you learned a lot and I am sure that you will rock the next one!

    4. Interesting read, thanks for the report!

    5. I'm thinking a two wheeler for hauling boxes would work perfectly. Just strap your clear boxes on top, put a cooler on the bottom and you are all set.

    6. OMG, OMG, OMG!! I am so excited about Rio del Lago I can not stand it! I am also so excited that you have this down, because I have NO idea what I am doing , but I am an excellent direction follower!

    7. OMG. Great post. Oh, Rio Del Lago starts/ends about 4 miles from my house. If I wasn't doing a half iron the same exact day, I'd be out there cheering for you/baboo. In any case, maybe i'll be out there next year.

    8. I'm supposed to be studying my continuing ed course for PT, so instead I googled bags.
      LL Bean has one designed for trails, but may be smaller than what you may need.

      This motherlode one looks pretty cool.

    9. PS- I have a heavy duty/large toiletry bag from e-bags that is rugged and durable. No idea if this thing is as good quality, but I am happy with the bag I have from them.


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