Ultrarunning can seem like a lonely sport at times, but it needn’t be. Having a crew can not only improve your performance, but also provide a whole load more motivation, enjoyment and purpose to your race. Plus they’ll feed sweets into your face when you can’t manage it any more.
People in the past have said to me that “crewing is cheating” to which I have replied, “B******s”. The idea that having a crew help you with the task of running 100 miles somehow belittles the achievement is rubbish. You still have to run 100 miles yourself, no one is carrying you. The difference is you can push that much closer to your limits.
For 24hr racing my support crew, mainly my mate Mick Seymour, is vital. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of Mick. He was there, handing me biscuits and eating the food I didn’t want to, when I ran 231K in Barcelona in 2012.
Without Mick I doubt it would have happened. Plus he paid for my plane fare as I was skint.
It’s not just handing out sweets and recording lap times, but mental support and encouragement too. Over time your crew will develop their knowledge of just what you are doing, what state you’re in and what you need to keep going. When it comes to 24hr running Mick sometimes knows better than I what I need.
For those who don’t want a friend or family slaving away after them, I have two comments. Firstly, pay it forward. Help someone else out and be part of the great ultrarunning community. Not only are you valuable to the runner, but you’ll learn a huge bundle yourself. Team GB’s Marco Consani crewed several 24hr races before smashing his first attempt at the Tooting Bec race.
Secondly, remember that people enjoy being part of your journey. Mick and I have shared some great times, including spending his 50th birthday dancing at the Spartathlon afterparty or winning a World & European Bronze Medal and Team Gold in 2015. A crew shares the highs and the lows and it’s not just the runner having fun. That’s what Mick tells me at least.
Get your friends and family involved and share a little bit of what you love doing. Don’t see it as a chore for others, but an opportunity. Pay it forward yourself and you’ll get what it’s all about.