Our team was out at Run Rabbit Run not only to support the runners on the nutrition front..we also got to crew for our very own Maggie Guterl! Along the way we learned a few things about what it takes to be a reliable and helpful crew.
Be prepared in every sense! It is easier said than done. We prepared for a successful race of crewing by scoping out aid stations with bad parking ahead of time, had a backup plan to get to aid stations if we could not park (yay bikes), always arrived at the aid station early, kept a close eye on Maggie's pace via a Garmin InReach because the race didn't have live tracking, had everything in the car that Maggie might need, extra food and snacks for Maggie, and of course supplies to keep us (the crew) hydrated, fed, and warm. Maggie also created a spreadsheet outlining her estimated arrival time and what she would need at each aid station. Having a list was a huge help because we could run through the checklist multiple times. Solely relying on your memory at 2am is not a good idea.
Lay out everything your runner might need
We saw many crews that had the supplies for their runner in bags, and we quickly realized that it is hard for a runner to make decisions about what they need or could have when they can't see it. The mental fatigue of a long race is so real! Maggie told us ahead of time to lay everything out on a towel so she could see everything she may need and we would then run through each item to assess if she needed it in her pack for the next stretch. This worked extremely well, and allowed Maggie to get in and out of aid stations as fast as she needed.
Take care of yourself (the crew!)
If we didn't take care of ourselves we wouldn't have been much help to Maggie. Healthy crew = happy runner. It was really important to us to stay fed, hydrated, warm, and alert throughout the night. We made sure to grab a substantial dinner, drink a ton of water, and we had extra snacks on hand. We also had a plan to nap for about an hour during one of the longer stretches between aid stations.
Having other ultra runners on your crew or there is so helpful!
Neither myself or Lexi are ultrarunners, so we lacked some of the tacit knowledge necessary to help Maggie with whatever may arise. Maggie's good friend and adventure buddy, Meghan Hicks (from iRunFar) was crewing another runner and she came over when Maggie came through aid stations to help. We had our bases covered, but Meghan knew the right questions to ask and what might sound good to Maggie when she was going through it. Obviously having an experienced ultrarunner on your crew team will not always be possible, but it was an awesome bonus. Meghan had great wisdom for Maggie and helped lift her spirits when she was at a low point.