Written by my wife Samantha, who crewed for me during the Keys 100.
Crewing for a 100 mile race is not something to be taken lightly. So much time and preparation go into just getting ready for the race on the crew end. Reading up on lots of stories of previous crews from the race or even runners really helped a lot. Every runner is different with their needs, so reading stories can only be advice, not necessarily a for sure guide. Also, reading stories from other runners can give you their perspective. They give a lot of insight on how they felt throughout the race and the things they might need at certain points in the race. Some of the best advice I got was from friends who were runners or who actually crewed before as well. As a wife, reading some of those stories really freaked me out and got me nervous. I had to read how physically and mentally grueling the race was for the runners. They talked about everything from the deathly hot temperatures to losing toenails (ewwwie). I had to not only be prepared for all of this, but be strong enough to fix the boo boo’s and encourage him to keep running even though that encouragement was hard for me to give at times.
A few days before the race… You can never be too prepared. If you think you might need it, you will, so bring it. Think outside of the box as well. Depending on the climate you could use everything from bug spray to face wash and chap stick. It’s easiest if everything is sorted out and has its own place so it is easier to find. I used Tupperware to put different foods in so he could just pick what he wanted, grab it, and go. This brings me to food. I would just bring a wide variety of foods. Some healthy, some to replenish lost nutrients, and some junk food that just might sound good to them. It’s better to over pack than not pack enough. Although aid stations will have a wide variety of food I found it best and easiest to just carry everything with us. Even though they have food, it may not sound good to your runner or your runner may not want to wait until the next aid station. As the miles go on “2 miles until the next aid station” could feel like 20 miles.
During the day it is going to be HOT so it is most important to keep your runner drinking. Monitor his water intake. Make sure you’re refilling his water bottles up every couple of miles. Keep them iced down with ice packs and ice cold towels. We had a cooler just for that kind of stuff. I kept ice and water in a cooler with hand towels soaked in the ice cold water. Every couple of miles during the day i would wipe him down with these ice towels and I would soak his skull cap in water as well. Cooling your head off is the fastest way to lower your body temperature. Also, because it was so hot and sunny I constantly kept sunscreen on him. It seems like I was putting it on him every few miles. Along with chap stick with spf. At the end of the race I was very proud that my husband looked like he was the only one without a sunburn. I guess I’ll go ahead and say this, being his wife I think made a big difference in his care. I was worried about every little thing, so every little thing was taken care of. I guess you could say that I really paid close attention to the details. Made him stay hydrated, sunscreened, made him eat, etc.
Another important thing that I noticed a lot of people did not do, was changing clothes. He changed clothes every 25 miles and socks every 20 miles. His chaffing was minimal and he did not have any blisters or lose any toe nails. He also used the best socks possible. Not sure what brand they were, but they were the 5 toe socks. Also, as far as clothing he brought all sorts of gear he might need. From long sleeves, to rain jackets.
When he told me that I had to meet up with him every 2-3 miles, I completely thought this was a bit excessive. It turned out to be the perfect amount of meeting up. It kept me busy the whole time. Gave me something to look forward to. Gave him something to look forward to the harder the run got. It also gave me time to take in the scenery. There are some times where a few miles seems to take hours, but at least you have a beautiful view to look at and take pictures of. I made sure to stay busy by reading, messing around on my ipad, and talking to family and friends.
As the day turned to night, I went from being calm to nervous. So luckily, that kept me awake a good amount of time. The 7 mile bridge was at the forefront of the the darkness. That made me really nervous for him because it was dark, he was on a bridge, I wouldn’t see him for 7 miles, and there was inches from him and the cars that were passing by going 50-60 mph. As the night progressed, boredom sank in..then about 4 a.m. I began to get tired. From then on our meet ups went a little like this: I was pulled over at said meeting spot, I had everything ready for him that he needed at that meet up, he would tap on the window to wake me up, I would jump up hand him his things and send him on his way so I could rush to the next meet up and hopefully get more shut eye before he showed up. Unluckily for me, he got his second wind at this time and it seemed like he was running 6 min. miles and seeing me every 12 mins. so I never got much sleep. At one point he woke me up and said there were deer literally right outside the car. I flew out of the car from a dead sleep and there they were! Little bambi!! They were so sweet they let me feed them. They actually took food from hands! It was so cool. I was so enthralled with this that I accidentally gave them all of Chris’s oranges. Haha. I had to have some fun somehow, right?
So by then it was about morning! Although I had only a few mins. of sleep here and there, I felt refreshed that it was a new day and we were almost done! My husband seemed to have his second wind still and was going quite strong. Way better than what I had expected from running all night. I think the Mt.Dew, coffee, and NoDoze did some good throughout the night!
About 11 a.m., shit got real. He started crashing and I started getting ants in my pants because I knew we were almost done. This is when he needed me the most. I wanted to comfort him so bad, but that’s not what he needed at this point. He needed a fire cracker lit! I was that fire cracker for him. He wanted to give up with only a few miles left (I think it was more of the delirium talking than anything). With about a mile and half to go I noticed he wasn’t looking so hot. I was truly afraid he might stray into traffic, he was so out of it. So, since we had come so far in the race together we brought in the last mile together. And I would like to add that this was the longest mile of our life! We kept asking people if we were almost there, everyone of them said “ya around the corner” only for us not to be there when we went around the corner. When we finally crossed the finish line we were both so tired. Obviously, he was on another level than me. It was a very emotional thing for us to cross the finish line holding hands. We both expected fireworks, music, beer, food, confetti. Nope none of that. There was a couple of lawn chairs to sit on, a bottle of warm water, and your choice of a burger or a burger. There wasn’t even lettuce or ketchup. BUT WE DIDN’T CARE! WE WERE DONE. We did it together and it was the best feeling ever.