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Setting up a crew for an Ultra race

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Setting up a crew for an Ultra race

Crewing a runner in an ultra race can be a more exhausting and nerve racking than actually doing the running.

There’s a lot of pressure on the crew to make sure they meet the runner at the various checkpoints. And this was no ordinary race - it was the pinnacle of the trail running calendar.

I asked two friends to crew me - neither had any experience in doing it before but they both had a passion for running and really wanted to visit Chamonix in UTMB week to see what all the hype was about. They weren’t disappointed...

Once out in France, I sat down with them and a spreadsheet and we went through the 5 checkpoint locations and my fuel requirements.

I was basing my fuelling requirements on 60g carbohydrate per hour. I had decided to use gels and liquids rather than real food after my previous attempts in this race meant I couldn’t digest real food.

What was in my kit bag?

I had 5 bags filled with fuel, such as:

I also had a spare bag containing supplies I may need. This included spare head torches, spare socks, sunscreen, blister kits, RockTape Kinesiology Tape, Squirrel's Nut Butter Anti-Chafe Tube and other food varieties in case my stomach changed its mind; I had pot noodles and Ambrosia rice pudding at the ready!

My spreadsheet included not only my fuel requirements but my timings.

It was hard to work out the logistics because this year UTMB wanted crew to use the buses they were putting on. They provided timetables we just had to make sense of them in combination with my timings. In a days work, with little opportunity to sleep, my crew had to navigate buses, carry kit, lay out what I had and pre-empt what I may want, be positive but firm and ultimately efficient. They nailed it!

Unfortunately I did not...

I had to drop out at 115km (/170km) due to covid. However, they loved their experience and are keen to return!

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