Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Crewing Fort Clinch

On April 26th I was crew chief for my good friend Sara while she ran the Fort Clinch 100 Mile on Amelia Island in Florida.  It wasn't my first time crewing- I had crewed and paced for my friend Kara at the Mad Marsh 50K.  Not to take anything away from racing a 50K, but a 100 mile is a whole new ultrarunning beast, and crewing for a race that lasts over 24 hours is also a whole new experience!  It helped that my husband Alec was there as well, crewing our friend Bren...since Alec is quite experienced crewing me he was able to impart some of his "crewing rules".  Also at our crewing base camp were Katie (crewing Masumi), and Robert (just generally helping out).

Sara and Bren had planned on running a similar pace, and they actually ended up running the entire race together (all 25 1/2 hours of it!).  This ended up being very convenient- not only were Alec and I able to spend time together between crew duties, it allowed him to pace both Sara and Bren at night.  I was all ready to pace Sara, but within a few miles on the trail I began getting horrible shin splints in my left leg.  I had been feeling fine all week, but I guess the uneven terrain 5 days post-Boston was a bit too much.  I still managed to pace about 13 miles, but I felt guilty I couldn't do more.  But Alec stepped up and paced 35 miles with our friends- a good 8 miles more than he had ever covered before.  So it all worked out.

Basically I saw Sara every 10 miles, filled her bottle (Tailwind at first, and Gatorade later on), gave her several gels, and sprayed her with sunscreen.  When needed I made sure she was eating more food, gave her a icy bandanna, and helped her change clothes.  I also tried to encourage her and keep her spirits up during the tough times.  Afterwards Sara said I really helped her, but honestly I didn't feel like I had to do all that much!  In general, things went very smoothly, and Sara had a great race.  She had a few low points but was never as whiny as I know I've been during ultras ;)

In the end, Sara and Bren crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, which really says so much about the wonderful attitude you see in ultrarunning!  Sara was the 1st female, and Bren was 5th male.  Having gotten in one full lap of the course I can say it was not an easy race!  It also got very hot during the day, and much of the course was exposed to the sun.  I was so proud of how well Sara did- as I said, I didn't have to do much to keep her going!  Obviously I still prefer running ultras to crewing them, but I had a great time, and would definitely do it again.

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