Crewing | Worlds end | Ultra Running

When you become a runner you begin to slowly build connections. You build connections with people who share this same crazy love you do. You become part of a community. You are part of a journey.  You build lasting friendships. You become a small part in the amazing journey your friends make as well.

Being part of a community. Making the friends I have made. Being a part of other people’s journeys. These have become invaluable aspects of my life.

People who don’t run look and talk about runners like we’re crazy. They don’t understand the things we do. But even other runners look and talk about ultra-runners like they are crazy and can’t understand the things we do.

Form Your Crew:

Our group of friends has been on a cycle of members of our crew running ultras and those not running crewing for the others.

One of my friends took her ultra-running to a new level and I was fortunate enough to come along for the ride.

The last time I ran an ultra-marathon with her I DNF’d at the 50k mark of a 50 miler. She went onto finish the 50 miles. She stated after that race that she doesn’t feel like she would ever need to run more than 50 miles.

Welcome to 2020 where she is running over 60 miles at the World’s End Ultra Marathon 100k. That is 60+ miles on much more challenging terrain than where she ran the 50 miles and declared there was no reason to do more than that. Sometimes we surprise ourselves.

Crew Life:

When I first ventured into ultra-life I was most often one of the runners and not a crew or pacer. In mid-2019 I helped crew a friend for the first time at Twisted Branch 100k. That was a good experience. I gained experience in crewing. And at that time I was preparing for my first 100 mile race and it was valuable experience for being up and on my feet for long hours.

After that I wasn’t able to crew for anyone for over a year. Then in early September a fellow runner my friends adopted at my 100 mile race was back in town at the same event this year. My friends would be crewing and pacing him. I was invited to join in on the fun and so I did.

Then before I knew it, it was time to really start preparing to crew at Worlds End 100k. Our group started talking through plans. Crewing. Nutrition. Hydration. Gear. Pace. Cut offs. Pacing. We got together and went over how we would handle aide stations. What nutrition was needed at aide stations. What hydration would be needed at aid stations. Which aid stations crew could be at. How much to eat. How much to drink.

I think I was almost more nervous as I was getting ready to crew my friend at her 100k than I was getting ready to run my 100 mile race. I was so excited for her and I did not want to make a mistake and be the reason she did not finish her race.

Crew at World’s End:

We all convened at Worlds End State Park. We arrived the night before the race and would camp at the park for two nights leaving the day after the race.

We met at our runners’ campsite to finalize what we needed for the crew the next day. Our runners had packed the entire grocery store to use as fuel during the race. Packing and organizing of food and gear ensued. We relaxed a little at the end of the night knowing we were prepared as best we could be for the next day. Well, that’s how I felt. I am not sure the runners felt the same.

At Worlds End most of the time only every other aide station is crew accessible. This means most of the time crew is waiting at least a few hours for their runner to show up.

That is except for the one aide station that is right after another aide stations and is only about 3 miles away for the runners. So the crew has to race there to meet there runners. Oh yeah, and the most direct route to that aide station is inaccessible because that road is closed because it has been washed out. And if you fail to meet your runners there they will have to go a total of 19 miles before seeing their crew again. No pressure. Luckily my friends on the crew with me were Worlds End veterans. One running it and one crewing it last year. They were on point.

Providing crew support for a friend is a lot of fun when you get to crew with your friends. Hang out with friends. Spend time outside. Enjoy the sights. Indulge in some food. Maybe have a few beers as well. Cheer on your friends running the race. Cheer on all the other runners. See other running friends running or crewing at the race. Make friends with other crew members or other runners. Maybe even give a runner a few beers.

And of course as a photographer, wherever I go my camera goes with me.

I learned that it is impossible to pour tailwind powder into a soft flask without resulting in white powder residue along your thumb and forefinger. I learned an ultra-runner can drink an entire jug of maple syrup during a 100k. Also pouring syrup into a flask can eventually result in a mess no matter how careful you are.

I cooked soup and mashed potatoes over an open flame along the side of the trail multiple times. I packed sandwiches in race vests for runners. Our runners eat good at races. 

I had such a good time crewing for our friends. I can’t wait to do it again. I am sure someone will be running a crazy adventure of a race soon enough.

I couldn’t be happy for or prouder of my friends after they completed this race and demonstrated how hard work pays off.

Now I am just waiting for her to start looking for a 100 miler to run. 

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