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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ultra Support 101

So you decided to run an Ultramarathon. Race day is just around the corner and you know how much effort you invested to prepare for the event. All but one thing: Support. For first time ultramarathoners, it is advisable to assemble a support crew to help you finish your race. It's completely optional for some races though here are some tips on how to set-up your own support crew. Take note that this is based on personal experiences and stuff I got from other runners:

1. Choose your crew wisely. Preferably someone who has experience already in support or has skills that you will help you cross the finish line (taga-masahe, nutritionist, ultra-runners are some good skills).

2. Make sure that you brief them properly, days before the race. Give them all info about the race, what's your gameplan and even the race route. Make them visualize the actual race day.

3. If there are test runs, try to bring at least one of them with you. This will help them be familiar with the course and set some plans already.

4. Organize your stuff already. If possible, put them into "drop bags" or containers where your support can easily spot them. It will make your life easier rather than digging thru a mountain of things you will use during the race.

5. Mark when are you going to do your pit-stops. For each pitstop, tell them what you need in advance (water, banana, change of clothes, etc.). This will make you more efficient in your stop-overs especially if you are targeting a specific finish time for the race.

6. If possible, try to bring a phone. This is in-case you got lost or something happened to you, at least you can inform them immediately even if they are far from you.

7. Leave them some funds for food and emergency expenses. They need to eat as well :)

8. Buy your supplies days before the race! Save yourself from the stress of cramming instead of resting the day before the actual race.

9. Lastly, THANK them in the end for joining you in your crazy journey! Treat them to a good resto or at least give them some tokens of appreciation :))

10. Include them in your race day story. Immortalize the moment when you finish the race by highlighting them in your blog.

For the support crews, here are a bunch of things you might want to consider:

1. Take care of your runner. It's his moment and he trusted you to help him finish the race. They need you especially in the time he is already tired and wasted.

2. PATIENCE. Bring a lot of it.

3. When the heat is already in full-blast, make sure you bring a lot of ice. Sponge works well in pouring water over your runner. Nothing beats an ice-cold water bath under the heat of the sun.

4. Prepare his hydration and food. Make sure he's well hydrated and has enough fuel to burn. This is top priority as he needs it to survive the race.

5. Learn the basic first-aid. Stretching, Massage, Blister-popping, etc. Prepare for these common conditions during the race. Bring a kit with pain-killers, hydrites, oresol, etc.

6. The supplies are good for your runner. Please be considerate when you want to get some from it especially if its very limited.

7. If other runners ask for support, please help them. The ultracommunity is known for its runners helping each other. Be a good samaritan and offer some food or water.

8. Never let your runner quit. Bring some items to cheer him up and try to comfort him when he's already down and wasted.

These are actually a few things that I think would help you set-up a decent support crew. Set it up properly and it will make your race a bit easier. Remember, they are only there to help you cross but it's YOU who will do all the legworks.

Good luck BDM Warriors! See you on Saturday! :D

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