Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day…because you just make a nasty, muddy mess of the athletes and the trails.
Normally, I’m pretty indifferent about rain. It is what it is. But on the trail? That’s another story. It makes everything not only dirty but smelly. And if you’re at a multi-day event, that smelliness is coming right with you to the hotel room. Not the most desirable sleeping conditions if you ask me.
But that’s not necessarily the point of this post. The reason I bring up rain is you need to develop a management plan for inclement weather as a trail driver, and this often includes:
1. Discuss in advance. If rain is in the forecast, decide what severity in weather conditions to pull your athletes off the trail. This’ll make cutting the team simple and is actually the easiest thing that could happen to you.
2. Equip the support vehicle. Water spreads misery and stink in support vehicles, so you’ll need supplies to manage the rain. Don’t just bring an extra set of clothes for each athlete — or a stack of towels. Bring a whole roll of garbage bags to contain the dirt and stench of wet, muddy clothing.
3. Monitor your athletes’ feet. Repeatedly moving in wet shoes makes everything blister. Pack moleskin or other protective measures to buffer the friction points between shoes and feet.
4. Take care of their shoes. There will come a point in the race when athletes will want to change their shoes. As soon as they pass them to you, wash off the mud. Then, just leave them open and loose to dry.
5. Buy stock in paper towels. Even though athletes don’t obviously run on their hands, everywhere they touch will get mud on it. Wipe down areas that the team comes in contact with regularly with moist paper towels.
6. Kick up the heat. Rain can make everyone cold and grouchy, including athletes, so let the vehicle heat up to high heat. They can warm their hands and take the chill off of the bones.
7. Slow down. You’re not part of the race, so take it slow. You’ll absolutely slip and slide right under the supply vehicle if you’re moving too fast (and I’ll give you one guess on how I know).
8. Monitor weather patterns. You may already know it’s raining, but you’ll want to keep track of its progress. Knowing this is critical to managing the direction of those athletes, and you may have to pull them to a different trail to keep them on higher ground.
Rain is always a drag on the trail. But when it’s managed, everything will go smoothly. Plus, it comes with an added bonus. The team will inevitably move slower, and there’s nothing better than having a minute to sit back, watch the rain, and think.