Crewing an Ultra


Let me start by saying, as a runner I take full blame for every DNF, did my crew have a hand in them, yes maybe.

My first race that I had a crew at was RR100, 2012.

How did I go about picking my crew is where I made my biggest mistake. I picked friends that new me away from ultra running, big mistake.

A crew needs to now you as an ultra runner not just as a friend. Now in saying that, not all runners much less ultra runners make good crew members.

My crew chief is a high school track coach. What else could you want in a crew chief, running is their life. Will it's all good if they have the time to put in away from the track team.

One of my other crew members was an ultra runner with four 100 mile finishes along with being a 30 plus year friend. You would think someone with this background would be just the ticket you would want on your crew. One word can sum up the problem I had with them, EGO! Their ego was so big they would do the little things that helped derail my goal. From not being at crew aid station areas because they wanted to work some other aid station to not showing up until late afternoon after the race stated. 

Two of my other crew members were new to the ultra running world, their longest run being a 50k. Not that a 50k is a walk in the park. But they had no clue as to what I was going to feel at 50 miles much less just trying to make it to the finish line of a 100 miler. But for their lack of knowledge they both made up in giving all their heart and soul in doing whatever I ask them to do. Just a few days before I toed the line one of them, that was also one of my pacers was dealing with a knee injury. Without thinking twice the other stepped up to pace me even though they have never ran trails at night! To me I couldn't ask more from a crew member then to do this!

My last crew member was a good friend that is not a runner. Wow, it was like I was in training for a 5k having to go over running terms to how my gear worked. I'll say why I ask them to be a part of my crew. They are over weight by 250-300 pounds! I was hoping that being around a group of people who have worked so hard to get in shape, it would help inspire him to start changing his life. One more mistake I made by getting side tracked by wanting to help a friend when it was my day. You ask if it did anything to help get them started in changing his lifestyle, no, not at all.

Looking back, what will change. 

All crew members will have a running background. It would be nice for them to have an ultra running background. But as I learned, not all ultra runners make good crew members.

I will also have every crew member read, Death Valley Ultras: The Complete Crewing Guide. It may be written about crewing in Death Valley, but the info can be used for any ultra. If they don't want to read it, they want crew me. Race day is not the time or place to learn the little stuff!

My crew chief will not only know me away from running, but they will put in some long training miles with me. They need to know what I need way before I know I need it! Be it from changing socks and or shoes, to I need to eat or drink more or less.

My pacers will also put in long training miles with me. I need to know going into race day they can deal with just about anything they may take place in the middle of the night in the rain with a temp of 35F.

Race day is not the time to learn how the runners gear works or their wants and needs. 

As a runner the last thing you want to deal with is, drama, egos and cry babies.

What I love best about ultra running is the other runners. I feel when I toe the line, every runner there is part of my crew. Out on the trail they are willing to help out any runner make it to the finish line! Not sure of any other sport that can say that. 

In closing let me say, my biggest and best crew member is my family! They support me in this crazy sport. Put up with my long training days and my never-ending running stories.

Tony Constanzo

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