Never crewed a 100 before? No problem, here’s some tips, tricks and hints to survive 36 hours of awesomeness.

  1. Have fun. Without fun, the lack of sleep, the prepackaged camping food, the cold, the long stretches of helping everyone but your runner, can be long. Grab some beer, grab a lawn chair and embrace the suck with your runner. And yes, other runners would LOVE your help so don’t be afraid to hop in, cheer for them, fill a water bottle and make a PB&J sandwich for someone.
  2. Know the plan. Your runner should have some sort of plan going into the race. (If not, maybe mention to them it would be a good idea.) You should have an idea of how long it will take YOU to get between aid stations, how long it will take your runner and you should have an idea of what they’ll need when they get there. I know, this advice is coming from the most disorganized person on the planet, but yes, I do have a plan- well it’s not finished yet, but I thought about it…
  3. Have a prerace meeting with your crew. These can be really really fun (depending on what side you’re on.) Last year before Silver Rush 50, my crew completely unpacked all my gear and organized it so they knew where it was at. People were screaming, laughing, arguing, etc. It was a real bonding moment! It was crazy! Haha, but really, they needed to know where everything was, not me.
  4. Ultimately you’re there for the runner. Find out what they need and get it handled. Warning: don’t have 20 people in the crew asking what the runner needs. After 30+ miles, the runner can’t handle all the questions. Sometimes you have to tell them what they need. Check their water, if their pack has the same amount of water than when you filled it up 5-10 miles ago, they need a stern reminder to start drinking…
  5. Get to know people you don’t know. Of all the races I’ve crewed and paced, I’ve never met someone I didn’t like. Runners, crew, volunteers; we all become family on the trails. Say hi, chat, and help each other out. We’re all in this together and we all have one goal- get our runners across the finish line in time. Some of my best friends have come from 2am chats at aid stations and I wouldn’t give it back for the world.

Here’s some ideas of what you’ll need as a crew member. There’s a story behind most of these but what happens on the trails, stays on the trails… J

  1. Warm clothes. Even in the warmest places, it gets cold at night. Hats, gloves, sweatshirts, long pants, socks, shoes. It all sounds like common sense but when you end up in someone else’s clothes, it can be embarrassing…
  2. Food, water, coffee, beer: they are all necessities. Don’t ever think that you’ll have time to drive back to town. We race in the mountains here. It can sometimes take 2-3 hours to get between aid stations and that’s going well over safe driving speeds. Make sure you are as ready as your runner… If you eat my food while I’m running, I’ll kick you when I can walk again. Haha
  3. Tents, sleeping bags, blankets, camping gear are all good things to have. You never know when the weather will turn, when you’ll have 5 hours of waiting for your runner or just need to take a snooze. If you’re going to be pacing at some point, make sure you’re well rested and ready to keep your runner going!
  4. Charge your cell phone. I know, it’s silly but seriously. When I can’t be at a race, it means the world to me to know how my friends are doing. If you cell service, update people. I know it’s a common joke to update social media about how far we’ve ran today, but we all have people that care and worry about us doing these long races. There’s always a chance we don’t continue or something has gone wrong… Keep those people updated even if it’s a simple group text letting them know the runner is still moving forward.
  5. Last and most importantly- have a GREAT Attitude!!! I know, it’s boring sometimes, it gets hot or cold, the days and nights are long and sometimes you wish the race would get over. But seriously, you made the choice to help. No one is forcing you to be out there in the middle of nowhere for up to 36 hours helping someone you may or may not know very well. But remember, it’s about them, not you. When they cross the finish line, they will be forever grateful for all of your help!

There’s way more to crewing than you’d ever dream. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your runner ahead of time. Ask them questions, find someone who’d done it before. My first crewing experience we showed up and made the most of the 30+ hours of crewing and pacing. I showed up with strangers and left with the best of friends. There is no better feeling than helping someone accomplish their goal of running 100 miles. It’s a feeling you’ll never forget…

Published by Gary Stotler

Gary Stotler is a father, running, fitness, weight loss and personal development addict. Formally 400 pounds, Gary has naturally lost 200 pounds, created a coaching & speaking business and has become a 100 mile ultra-runner. Holding a degree in Psychology & Sociology, certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, mindset & behavioral modification coaching, a certification in DISC personality assessment coaching and he is a certified speaker, coach & mentor with the John Maxwell Team. Gary firmly believes, if we take One Step at a Time, nothing is impossible. He is determined to let his actions show people what is possible and hopes to help you shake up your thoughts, change your actions and create your future.

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