1. Crewing is equal parts hard work and really fucking fun. Like babysitting at a party. But you know, less “call child protective services.” Being responsible for someone’s well being is stressful. Sitting around waiting to see them once every few hours is boring. Staying up all night is exhausting. But you get a secondhand high from their progress, make friends with the other runners’ crews, and get to run around in the dark wearing a headlamp. What’s not to like?!? Might as well have fun while you’re out there, you know. Plus it turns out most everyone out there is down to have a good time.
2. Never ask “How are you feeling?” I knew this was the #1 no-no and then did it anyway. Somewhere around four miles into a six mile climb at midnight during pacing duty, after repeating to myself all day “don’t ask how she’s doing… don’t ask how she’s doing…” I blurted it out. WOOPS. Sorry, Em. [good news: she was actually feeling really good at that time. Or she was lying. I believed her if she was.]
3. Ultra runners love junk food more than anyone. You want to go back to the days of eating whatever the eff you wanted? Go hang out at an ultra aid station. Pop, potato chips, all kinds of candy, white bread ham sandwiches with mayonnaise, donuts, entire bags of bacon… There was even a mention of Cheez Wiz at one point during the weekend. Whatever works I guess, but seriously, gross guys.
4. Read the driving directions and/or at least put them in the car. It was probably less beneficial for me to read the Runner’s Manual six times cover-to-cover than it would’ve been to look at the crew instructions and driving directions… at all. (To be fair they were in a separate document I didn’t see on the website.) Had an unnecessarily tough time getting to a couple aid stations, but hell if I didn’t know exactly where Emily was supposed to turn at mile 43.5 and what kind of hot food they’d have at each aid station. [sidenote: most times there were enough people heading out when we were to just follow the train, except for you know, the real hard to navigate ones, when I was alone, in the dark, deliriously tired… directions would’ve been helpful then.]
5. There’s no Stranger Danger in ultra running. It’s totally normal to bump into someone on a trail a few weeks before race day, discover they’re also running it, Facebook friend them, invite them to stay in your cabin, and then become best friends forever. And if it’s not, we’re well on our way to making it the new norm. [Hi Gordo & Dan!]