So you’ve agreed to crew somebody at a race. Congratulations! You are doing a good thing, one which will really help them to cruise through those aid stations, keep going when it gets tough, and most of all, give them something to look forward to throughout the race. But if you haven’t done it before, there are a few things you should know about what you’ve got yourself into.
- Crewing a race is much harder than running one. As a runner all you have to worry about is putting one foot in front of the other, getting from aid station to aid station. As crew you still have to get from aid station to aid station but this will involve hours of driving and examining OS maps (because sat navs will laugh in your face), doing complicated maths to work out how far in front of/behind schedule your runner is, and trying not to fall asleep in case you miss them.
- Timing is everything. You will most likely have a schedule of when your runner expects to be at each crew point. However, it’s best to allow several hours either side. Cut it fine and you will probably miss them, get there early and they’re likely to be ages.
- The laws of crewing dictate that the runner will arrive at the most awkward crew point at the most awkward time. You will have to drive to a remote mountain pass for 3am. Too early to merit trying to get any sleep, and you probably won’t be able to sleep afterwards.
- Your runner will give you instructions on what they’ll want to eat and drink, then change their minds when they actually see you. You will have spent time tracking down that particular flavour of Lucozade, only to find that they now want Irn Bru.
- You will drive miles and wait around for hours with their ‘special bag’ full of very important kit and food. Then when they get there, they won’t want anything out of that bag.
- Their DNF is in your hands. You’ll be under orders not to let them DNF but your judgement if they are injured or ill and really shouldn’t continue will be really valuable. However, if you make the merest suggestion that they might want to think about calling it a day they will forever say that you made them stop, so use that judgement carefully.
- Remember that you can get them disqualified by breaking the race rules, so read them carefully. Giving them some fizzy water from the back of your car might seem like a really nice thing to do…
- You will keep meeting the same people at the aid stations, crewing their own family or friends. You will make friends with them, but secretly you’re hoping your runner will beat them. Because then you’ll have won crewing.
- If you had to pick a race to crew, pick a 24 hour one. You don’t have to drive anywhere, so it will be far less stressful and exhausting, and you may even get a nap in.
- At the finish don’t steal your runner’s glory by running the last bit with them, sprint finishing to take them down on the line and accepting their cheers. Similarly, don’t say ‘OMG I’m so tired’ in earshot of them at the finish.
So good luck and we hope you and your runner have a successful outing. Use the carrot and stick as needed, choose your words wisely and know that if the race goes well, you’ve been an important part of that.
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