The (non-running) Girlfriend of an Ultramarathon Runner…a Guide

Where’s that map?! The pre-Navi period of my support-crew career trained my ability to think on my feet and get my left-right’s correct. It also trained my patience, and especially, to be less egotistic. Given that for most of my life, things like marathons and I co-existed without ever crossing paths, its the thrown-in-the-deep-end kind of feeling. Suddenly I find myself happily willing to play support crew, talking a lot about functional gears and outdoor brands, and even listening to runners’ gossip. It is new, I soaked it all in, I wanted to know more, and my runner happily obliged.

…my non-exhaustive list of discoveries:

1. Balanced, nutritious meals and baked sweets are greatly appreciated over supplements all year around

2. Training support is pretty simple, its actually about enjoying myself (mostly in nature) while he runs his trails, sometimes I throw in a pick-up service too!

During a race,

3. Figuring out how to calculate approximate times of checkpoint arrival (for him, and me!) to get there before him and set up the extra clothes/shoes/supplements. Especially tricky is getting to the right place during mountain trail races, right into the hidden pocket where the runners past.

4. Chatting up my fellow support-crew teams during the waiting for our guys to arrive, comparing the gear that we brought, our runners’ speed and condition, the weather, set up of the race… (I get so much information during this time I can properly write dossiers on them)

5. Still during the waiting time, shifting from awkwardly standing around the checkpoint tent trying to stay out of the way to helping them cook the chicken soup and taste-testing their cookie supply.

6. Becoming rather resilient to bad weather conditions, I blame my overwhelming feeling of responsibility to my runner. No, the rain and the cold will not move me, I will be there for my soaking cold runner!

7. When he finally arrives, juggling words of motivation (you want to finish right?! keep going! thumbs up!), the supply stash that still has to be properly doled out, and trying to take amazingly artistic pictures of the look of suffering in his face and the mud on his shoes and legs. All this within the few minutes he pauses before moving on…see you in 10-,20-, 30- km!

8. Standing at the finish line, clapping and cheering, taking pictures of victory and smiles despite the pain in their legs that I am pretty sure they are feeling. That’s great, now where’s my runner? The pizza is getting cold…

9. When he finally does arrive, this overwhelming sense of pride and relief. Pride that he fought through and achieved his goal, and that he’s my winner, and relief that everything worked out ok.

10. Offering to drive the many hours back home after a competition is greatly appreciated.

After the race,

11. no matter what it is, if it was used in the race, its going into the washing machine

12. sorting pictures to look for ones that say glorious fighter or…good weather?

UTMB 2012

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