The Western States 100 looks especially trying for crew members. Not only is it point to point, but you've got to hustle up and down crazy roads, hike miles into aid stations with coolers of ice, stay up all night, and somehow managing to stay just a bit more level-headed than your runner. Just reading Laurie Thornley's advice shows you how much effort is going to go into the planning, execution, and troubleshooting of a 20-30 hour event. It takes a village!
I've been working with my crew, Brian and Dan (my brother-in-law and his neighbor), over the last few weeks to iron out the details. And there are a LOT of details. I had conveniently asked them to crew for me after about six beers months before the event, receiving a resounding "hell, yes!". Now I was wondering if the hangover was going to sober them right up and realize this was actually going to take some work. The crew guide I wrote for them is five pages long, details how to change my socks and shoes when I can't reach down to tie them, and ends with "by the way, I'm likely to be a complete asshole the last six hours". Dude. It's one thing to ask a fellow ultrarunner, but yikes. My spidey-sense is telling me I'm asking WAAAY too much from these guys but they are just too nice to admit it.
The guilt got to me, so I suggested an easier day of crewing and some options to opt out. The conversation went something like this:
Scott - Perhaps I could drive myself to the start, and you guys can check in on me at Robinson Flat...that way you don't have to get up too early and your day starts around Noon.Then it dawned on me...they REALLY want to do this! They want all the adventure, fun, spills and thrills of a 100-mile adventure. It's frankly, the closest they ever want to be to running an ultra, but gives them a great taste for what it is.
Dan - Perhaps you should let your crew decide what is best. Where's the first aid station we can be? Then that's where we'll be. That and every aid station from there to the finish where your crew is permitted.
Scott - Well, maybe you could just hit the aid stations that are easy to drive to, like Foresthill.
Brian - Dude...half the fun is trying to figure out how we're going to get all this stuff down to these crazy places before you get there. It's a complete adventure! And there's no way we're missing the River Crossing. That's photo gold, even if we have to trudge a few miles.
Scott - I would completely understand if you want to just meet me at the finish if this all gets old at some point.
Dan and Brian - Oh, we'll see you at the finish alright. Because we'll be waiting for you at Robie Point and telling you to move your ass so we can get our free breakfast.
Just knowing how excited they are to be a part of this event has boosted my spirits and nearly eliminated any remaining doubts I have about the big day (nearly, that is...always a few lingering doubts, no?). If anything happens, my crew will be there for me, and we'll figure it out together. Phew! What a relief.
Damn. This crew thing sounds pretty cool. Maybe I should give it a try!
My fellow synchrobloggers are chiming in with their last minute thoughts/advice on Western States, so be sure to read on:
Craig Thornley talks about pacing
Bryon Powell takes bets on the top finishers
Sean Meissner gives kudos to his teammates
AJ Wilkins gives his last-minute thoughts