I couldn’t. My crew and pacers have been and continue to be instrumental in my ultrarunning and finishes. I know some runners complete ultras without crews or pacers. And my hat goes off to them. I sometimes think I could do it without, if I needed too. I’ve done the first fifty miles of a few hundreds without a crew (you typically can’t have pacers within the first fifty miles). And those races went fine. I’ve also had total melt downs at mile 83 and my crew has been able to get me back out there to finish the race.
I love to have them there even if I don’t “need” them. Their smiling faces and tough love make my race fun even when I’m struggling. Their belief in me, when I don’t believe, gets me through. Sharing my success and love of running is another reason I bring out such a large crew. I have six people, three pacers and three crew, who will be joining me out on Antelope Island for the Buffalo 100 on March 18th and 19th.
I also recognize they are giving up time with family to be out there supporting my running habit. It’s important to me to recognize that and remember it during races. I try to be very aware of their sacrifice when I come into aid stations. I don’t want to criticize them or be a pain in the ass. They are, after all, out there just for me.
Because of all of this, I make a special effort to make sure their needs are taken care of and that they will have a good time out there as well. When I have my crew meetings, I go through things they will need and what their experience will be like. I try to plan things as precisely as possible so they know what to expect and don’t have to guess about what I will need or search for things I am asking for.
Even though I don’t have to have drop bags with my amazing crew at every aid station they can get to, I put them there to make life easier for my crew. It is easy for them to come into an aid station get my drop bag, which has most of what I thought I would need at that particular place and time in the race.
I also try to find a gift for them which is meaningful and will remind them how important they all are to me.
Take care of your support system and never forget, they don’t have to be there. They are there because they love to watch and help you succeed.