I personally am a FIRM believer in having a good support crew! Seriously, it can often make or break your race. They are especially helpful in ultra marathons, because they can actually give you aid along the course, but they are still vital in a triathlon-especially a long-course triathlon!
My constant support crew is my family, specifically my husband and my parents. Ever since my husband and I started dating, he has been at EVERY SINGLE RACE of mine! It didn’t matter the race, the distance, the time, or the location; he has always been there. He has spent many a Saturday or Sunday getting up WAY before the sun, and many a long day driving me to the race site, helping me with my gear, giving me last minute advice, taking pictures of me, cheering me on through the race by walking/biking/driving to different spots to see me, scraping me off the ground at the finish line, helping me check out my gear, and driving me home at the end of the day. Seriously, I couldn’t do the races I do without him!
My parents are also a BIG part of my support crew. They aren’t always able to be at every race, but they have been at MANY of my races, and ALL of the important races I’ve ever done. They’ve traveled hours just to spend the day watching me race, cheering me on and congratulating me at the finish. Even the races that my parents haven’t been able to come to, they always support me from afar! They check in with me before and after my race, and have John send them updates while I’m on the course. They are seriously invested in every race I’ve ever done!
In the marathons and ultra-marathons I’ve done, they’ve supplied all the race food, worked to re-fill my hydration pack at aid stations, brought changes of shoes/clothes for me, pieced me back together after bad races, and even spent much of their valuable vacation time at races.
Last year, I was undertaking my biggest challenge yet–my 140.6 Rev3 Triathlon. My husband obviously went with me, but my parents and BOTH my sisters also traveled 10+ hours literally just to watch me race! They knew they wouldn’t get to spend much time with me, and the time they did have with me was before the race when I was nervous and stressed or after the race when I was just dead. But they still came! They also knew they wouldn’t get to help me during the race at all. But they still came. AND even though they couldn’t physically help me after the starting gun went off, their cheering helped IMMENSELY. Until you do a long-distance race, it’s hard to imagine how much seeing people you know cheering for you can lift your spirits and encourage you to press on!
So, since I have the PERFECT support crew, I’ll list my top 5 “musts” in selecting a support crew:
1) They should have knowledge in the sport you are racing. (Example: If you are running a marathon, it’s helpful to have people on your crew who are also runners.)
2) They need to be legitimately INTERESTED in what you are doing! Seriously, there’s nothing worse than a bored support crew. I imagine they wouldn’t be very supportive.
3) Family members are best. They usually know you and what you need better than anyone else.
4) They should be prepared to map our their route themselves. Meaning they do their own research about the race route and find out what places they will be able to see you.
5) They should be prepared to do/see some unpleasant things. The very first race I did after John and I started dating was a 50k. I threw up at the finish line. He still helped me after the race, AND he didn’t get scared away! We’d only been dating 2 months at that point, but I think he figured out quickly what he was getting into.
Do you have a support crew for your races?