Ultra rookie crewing at Ice Age

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan 14 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #1499


    Last weekend, Double left a message on this forum saying he needed someone to crew for him. I figured what the heck, if no plans come up I can try my best to help out. After all, Double is a pretty laid back guy. It shouldn’t be too hard. So I made the offer. We discussed the plans Monday evening, I believe he mentioned at that point that there was a woman coming in from Colorado who may need some help so I figured what the heck. It sounded like carry a couple of gels and hand them off to her. Friday evening, I got Double’s supplies. Plenty of bottles, some Gatorade, some gel, and a bunch of stuff he probably wouldn’t need. As for the woman from Colorado, he would find someone out there to get a couple of gels to me and point out who she is. Talk about planning on the fly. When I arrived, after the runners had already started, I didn’t have a single thing for the second person I would be crewing and I didn’t even know who the heck she was!

    The first aid station I was at came I believe around 9 miles into the race. As I went up, I asked the aid station workers which direction the runners would be coming from and they told me the wrong direction. Fortunately, someone came up and corrected them and I got situated well before anyone came by. Jeff found me and gave me the gels for the other person (Tanya (sp?)) and said he would point her out to me. Double came by, we swapped bottles, and I gave him the gel. I expected him to just drop the gel and I would pick it up. Instead, he runs with it for a while then turns around and throws it back to me. OK, from this point on, I’ll run with him whenever possible until everything is done. As the second woman came by, Jeff started running with her. He came back and said he believed that was her. OK, I guess I’ll trust that it is. I hung around just long enough to see Pski going by, right in the middle of a big pack and talking it up with anyone who would listen and some who probably weren’t listening. After that, off to my next vantage point.

    At the second spot I was at, the runners would come out of the woods, cross a street while running down it just a short distance, then go into the woods on the other side. Not much room to work with. Double wanted some body glide, so I had 3 things in my hands for him. As he approached, I made the mistake of not taking my gloves off. In the process of trying to exchange 4 plastic containers with knit gloves on, I almost dropped the body glide but I fortunately didn’t. Another rookie mistake, Double had hand straps for his water bottles but he only had two and I gave him a bottle without a strap. Make a quick change to get the strap he was using on his new bottle and he was off, hopefully without too much delay. Tanya approached, I believe still in second, and wanted a gel so I opened it for her while running along with her and handed it off. Things went pretty smoothly overall at that point. I also noticed that there was another person there for Tanya and he had a whole bag full of stuff. I guess I lucked out.

    At the next vantage point, it was back to the same with Double. Exchange bottles, give him the gel to take a shot from, then take it back when he’s done. No more gloves so I won’t have things slipping through my hands. For Tanya, things became more interesting. I asked if she wanted a gel, she at first said yes. Then, she started listing more things she wanted. Ahh, well, I don’t exactly have any of that. Then, she realized I was the wrong guy. She wanted things out of the bag. So no gel. At that point, I figured I better start hanging out close to that guy.

    My next vantage point was the south turnaround point near Whitewater. After a little trouble finding the place, I got there with not a whole lot of time to spare. I handed off to Double and things went smoothly. Tanya then came and I saw how stressful things can be for someone crewing for her. She says she wants about 3 things, then gets anxious as he’s digging through the bag to get them. Of course, I can see her viewpoint. Every second he is digging is a second she’s not moving. On the other hand, he’s working as quickly as he can. After that exchange, he asked me if I could take her bag and do everything for. I was a bit apprehensive but he was missing the guy he was there for at every station in order to help her and that wasn’t fair so I said I would.

    Back to the previous point for the next handoff. Double was I believe in 8th, 5 minutes behind the next guy. The exchange went pretty smoothly and he was on his way. Now, time to figure out how to prepare for Tanya with all of the things in her bag and not knowing what she would want. I knew her main two things were gel (of which she had 2 kinds) and Succeed caps, so I got all of those ready for quick access. She came by and didn’t want anything. Well, that’s pretty easy. Off to catch Double at the next station.

    The next station was the same place as the second station in the reverse direction. Double came along, now 6 minutes back from the next guy, and things went smoothly except for the fact that I didn’t have his splits right there for him. Tanya came and wanted a gel, a Succeed tab, and a new water bottle. I did manage to get those pretty quickly for her but she didn’t take the Succeed tab so I ran up to her to give it to her. Then, off to the next stop. This is getting to be a bit tight between getting her at one station and making it to the next one for Double but I didn’t realize quite how tight until I got to the next station.

    I got up to the next station, grabbed the stuff, and was walking up to where the runners were crossing the street. As I was walking up, I was watching the runners approach and there was Double. Shoot, drop the bag and run up to make sure I get his stuff to him! We did get things handed off fairly comfortably but when he asked how far back he was, all I could say is I don’t know, I just got here. Once he was gone, I prepared for Tanya and for Double’s next station. By this point, I knew how much on the edge I was so I was getting nervous. Is she going to make it in time for me to get her and get Double at the next point? I can’t just leave her stranded out there as I’m the only one around to help her now but I’m really there for Double and I don’t want to miss him. Well, she did come by and wanted nothing again. Man, now I waited here for nothing and I might miss Double. Off to the next station, hopefully before Double gets there!

    The next station was Horsemans Camp, which is a name I had been hearing for some time. Some of the people I had seen previously, including the guy who was carrying Tanya’s bag before, were there. I asked this guy if he could get her at this point so I could get up to the next point, the turnaround, for Double. I knew I wouldn’t get there if I had to wait for her but it was a full 10k without a water bottle change for Double if I didn’t get up there. That late in the race, with the temperatures climbing, that’s getting pretty far. He said he would so I was free to leave right after Double went by. I asked Ron Erhardt to give Double an idea of who is ahead of him and by how far, figuring Ron knew these guys better than I did. So now I’m free to just get his stuff to him and get to the next station in time. The exchange went well, completely on the run and I don’t think Double had to do as much as adjust pace or break stride. This was it for his gel, though. After the exchange, I was off to the turnaround.

    At the turnaround, I talked with the workers for a bit before Double came along. I didn’t know what he wanted so I had a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water for him. I went down from the turnaround point a bit so I could have time to swap bottles if needed. It’s a good thing I did because I needed to. I swapped bottles while he ran up to the aid station at the turnaround and grabbed a couple of things. By the time he was coming back, I was ready and running up toward him. At this point, he was still in 8th but was moving up. Still, I thought his goal of top 5 was looking like it was out of the question.

    Now, it was back to Horsemans. As I was preparing things for Double and sorting through Tanya’s things, Pski came along on his way out. He was not looking good at all and I saw him sit down at the aid station, not a good sign. I couldn’t even imaging getting back up to run once sitting down after running 37 miles on those trails and hills. While he was sitting there, I saw his family approaching. As they came toward me, I didn’t even say anything. I just pointed toward him sitting at the aid station. I knew he needed them over there. After a couple of moments, I went over there and he was already ready to move on. Now, I was expecting Double any time. He came back in 5th place. So much for no top 5. In the previous 3.1 miles, he made a big move to get into 5th and was not that far behind 3 and 4. He did not look good, though. My biggest concern was that he didn’t take any bottle from me. He was running at least the next 4 miles or so without a bottle. Tanya came along after some time and I think we had too many hands in the pot. She wanted Succeed, a gel, and a water bottle. I had all 3 in my hands when Susi grabbed Double’s water bottle and gave it to her so I just gave her the gel and succeed and let her go. I told Susi what happened but didn’t think it was a big deal anyway, since their bottles were the same size and she did get water. Anyway, I didn’t have time to worry about it. I had to get to the next station before Double so he could get some fluids after not taking a bottle there. He took some Gatorade, drank a bunch of it, then dumped it. I waited for Tanya and she ended up not taking anything. Darn, I could have gotten down to the finish line to see Double finish. Oh well, that’s not the end of the world.

    The contrast of the two people I crewed for was very interesting. Double was the most laid back guy you could imagine. Having fun, not all that concerned about what he got. At a few points, I didn’t even know whether he wanted Gatorade or water so I just guessed. He probably took a few drinks from his bottles not even knowing what he was going to get until it came out. Tanya, on the other hand, was pretty demanding while running. She wanted this and this and that and wanted it as quickly as possible. Totally focused on racing. Afterward, she was apologizing about all of that but, honestly, I could see myself being the same way when racing so I understood. I enjoyed crewing for them but I would suggest that one person not crew for two runners unless you are very sure that they will be close throughout the race. I was feeling a bit of stress when I didn’t know if I would get to Double in time.

    The atmosphere there was very cool. Much different than shorter races. It made me want to become part of the ultra running community. Not yet, though. I have more important things to take care of first. However, I have seen the promise land and I do intend to find my way there eventually.

  • #14508


    And you almost got yourself into “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” by helping out for two people! Glad it worked out ok for Dave and Tanya.

    What an interesting perspective to crew an event like this (Race is not a word I’d use. Survival trek maybe…) after running dozens if not hundreds of road races. Not sure I’d ever want to run an Ultra, but it helps knowing ahead of time that planning is important.

    Thanks for posting your perspective. I really enjoyed reading it!

  • #14509


    in reading your post…i think i was more like the woman you were helping out rather than Double (AKA The Legend). admittedly i had a real sense of urgency whenever i hit an aid station…get some water plus anything else and get back on the trail. by my second pass through Horseriders i did mello quite a bit and took it a bit easier.

    my dad was a rookie for crewing as well. he did very well considering he was handed a course map the night before… 🙄

  • #14510


    It was good to see you out there Ryan. I’m sorry about any confusion regarding pointing out the woman who you were crewing. It was early in the morning when I met here and my mind was in a fog.

  • #14511


    Jeff, not a big deal at all. I guess I’m kind of like a lot of those ultra runners. As long as things work out in the end, all is good. Thanks for the help.

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