So, what do I know about crewing? Not much. Runner comes through, you give runner food and drink, drive to next point. Seems straightforward, right? Except, OH MY GOD! They're doing the epic thing and I have to make sure they have all the tools to do it? And I have to motivate them and decode their mood and be awake for a million hours and
Thankfully, I was joined in my crewing duties by Ben (Steph's husband and a person who has actually completed a 100 mile race), Steph's mom (who I'll just refer to as Mom from now on), and Steph and Ben's super adorable pup Toby. If this had all been on my shoulders I would have crumbled like a... well, like a crumbly thing.
So race day is here. We get Steph to the starting line on time (score!) and sent her on her merry way. Thankfully, Ben has programed all the aid stations into his GPS on his phone AND is driving (he was obviously the brains of this outfit). After the start we had to wait for her to get 6 miles of running done and then we would see her again as therunners looped back by the start of the race. We "relaxed" in the car for a little while and then headed up to the aid station to do the crew thing. Ben asked me to spot Steph as she came out of the trail and let her know where we were. So I was READY. First problem.... the runners are wearing headlamps. Crap. They all look like bobbing lights. Thankfully I recognized her, got her over to Ben, he took her headlamp, probably gave her some something and she was off again. YEAH first crew station and I didn't fail!
Our next crew station was at mile 17ish for Steph. We headed there right away and got a great parking space. Win! We sat in the truck and did a bit of people watching (favorite hobby of mine). One of the first people I noticed was a gal next to us that had a clipboard, a cellphone and all other kinds of things that she was fiddling with. Oh course I immediately thought, should we have a clipboard? Too late now. As the first runners came in she was furiously typing in her phone and scribbling down numbers. We assumed that she was a spotter for the race tracking? I called her Math Girl. When a runner came up and obviously knew her (she gave him a new shirt to wear), we realized that she was crew too.
This was also our first sighting of tan guy. He was solo crewing as well, and was really tan. As the runners came in, they got names too:
-Ribs- he wasn't wearing a shirt and had impressive rib muscles
-No shirt guy - pretty self-explanatory
-Muscles - this guy and some arm muscles for sure
-Camelbak guy - duh he was wearing a Camelbak
-Blue Shirt Hokas - (he later became white shirt Hokas and Red shirt Hokas.)
-Long Hair - he had long hair
-Plaid Shirt Guy - No foolin, he was wearing a button down plaid shirt
-Achieve - His shirt said achieve (thankfully he kept the same shirt on for the majority of the race)
When Steph came in she was looking great. We sent her on her way and also met New Crew Guy. He was just a super nice guy that said hi and asked us if it was our first time crewing. It was his first time and you could see he was a bit overwhelmed, but so excited to be there.
At the next aid station, she was through the marathon in 3rd place for women! It was so exciting to be at the race, but to have a runner that's KILLING it at the race was oh my god oh my god oh my god super exciting! We were joined here by Mom and spent the rest of the caravaning from place to place. Oh, and it had started raining....
Next aid station was mile 42ish. So, we had a bit of a wait. Mom took Toby on at least a couple of walks while Ben and I puttered around on our phones. The new routine of me asking Ben a hundred times, "when should she come in?" was in full effect. You see, Ben had a spreadsheet that had all kinds of mathy mumbo jumbo that would give us a good feel for when to expect her. It was really good at predicting her times and Ben was really good at predicting when mom and I would be so anxious we needed to get out there anyway. Then we would open the back of the car to start organizing and Toby would supervise.
We got to the aid station that was conveniently located under a giant shelter. Giant enough to have a picnic table to set up our spread and keep us out of the rain. And it was the first time that I got to marvel at Ben's obsessive compulsive organization of the buffet we were offering Steph. From a gal who definitely has her own OCD issues, this was familiar territory. But it was still kind of amusing to watch him lay everything out and then move it all a half inch. Then he would fan the gels out so that they looked more appealing . After stepping back and taking it all in, he would typically trade the placement of two or three things.
We saw the familiar runners coming through, plaid shirt, Camelbak, Blue Hokas, and Achieve. Then came our girl. The rain had made things sloppy, so she switched to trail shoes. We loaded her up with as much food and supplies as we could because we wouldn't be seeing her for 24 miles. Her spirits were up but we were all worried about her running these long middle miles with no friendly faces. But with a potty break and one more almond butter covered apple, she was on her way.
So, we had a 24 mile break. What did we do? We went to a town, found the running store where Ben proceeded to buy a few more socks and a brand new pair of shoes.... just in case she wanted them. We also got some lunch. And then we waited.....
This wait was miserable. When we got to the parking lot of the aid station, we puttered around on the phones some more, and Mom took Toby for another walk or two.... Ben and I finally tried to get a bit of sleep (we had been up since 3) when 15 minutes in Mom taps on the car door. I can't remember what she wanted to tell us, but I think it might have been about the massive clouds of mosquitoes at this aid station or about the fire that was built in the shelter, or something. Either way, those 15 minutes were the full extent of our sleeping for the day/night. We saw our crewing "friends" Tan Guy and Math Girl pull in and went back to puttering on our phones and obsessively tracking the runners. The tracking was showing us that these legs looked difficult for the runners. And we just weren't sure what we were in for when we saw Steph next. But at least it had mostly stopped raining.
When Mom and I were too anxious to stand it, Ben finally gave in and we headed up to find a spot for our crew station. As we hauled our goods up the path I noticed that Math Girl's runner was standing at her car with flip flops on. I looked at Ben and said, "I think Math Girl's dude is out". This was confirmed when Ben saw him get in the car. So his race was over. This was something ELSE that made me more anxious about what kind of shape Steph would be in when we saw her.
With the weather drying up, we knew that this would be a great time to get her into some dry clothes. It was my job to go with her into the bathroom on site and talk to her about how things were going. Ben gave me her clothes to hold while we waited and then began to pile on every other thing he could think of. Take this towel in case she needs to dry off, take this apple juice, take this sports wax, take these electrolyte pills, I kind of felt like this guy
We waited for her while staring down a long trail. Our tired eyes thought that every leaf movement was a runner. Two very nice ladies walked up beside me and said they were hoping that the next runner would be wearing a green shirt. I said, no we want her to be wearing orange. Well it turned out that we saw both of them at the same time. They had been running together. I shuffled Steph off to the bathroom to get her in some dry clothes. It was then that I got my first runner drunk, "I love you".
You know how when you get drunk, people get all huggy and start saying I love you a lot? I think that 100 milers might have the same effect. And apparently when crew members are sleepy and obsessively worried about their 100 mile runner..... they say it too... Love you Steph!
She was blown away by the new shoes (which she took off running in) and the new socks. Her spirits were up in part to her new running partner. After some more refueling she was off again, we would see her in five miles. That aid station was fairly uneventful. She was still with her new running partner (yeah) and we gave her back her headlamp from the morning. The next time we saw her it was going to be dark.
Next aid station, mile 86ish. The sun was starting to set and as per usual I was anxious. But the sunset was beautiful.