For years I have packed endurance and trail support vehicles and I have learned that simple strategies make my life infinitely happier and help me deliver a better service to the athletes out on the road.
I’m willing to pay someone to wash the car after I’ve had 30 runners eating out of the back of it. But rather than use your own vehicle, consider renting one.
On average our car rental has been only about $100, and it has provided so many options on the road that it’s the best hundred dollars we could spend on a team!
What I have learned is that renting a vehicle such as a large SUV that has lots of storage space is a critical tool in your support role.
The main reason for that is that I don’t have to clean it out! The miles are unlimited in a rental vehicle, I can put our logos on the side of it and I don’t ever have to see that car again if I hate it.
I’ve used rental vehicles that are everything from a Cadillac Escalade to a Town and Country van. I will tell you right now you never need a van in your life! It will rattle all your junk, and you can’t actually deliver service out of it. Plus, it is so difficult to manage getting cramped athletes out of it.
Oddly enough is the fact that with those larger SUV vehicles, once you open the doors, it can also be a great sound system. An SUV can allow you to service six athletes at one time. Modern SUVs also offer you the ability to charge any devices that you need to.
A roof rack is impossible to manage for any human under 5’5”, so storing gear on top of a car is, 100% of the time, only to be planned if you want to become criminally insane by the end of the day.
You’re always looking to have a few coolers in the back and dry goods, as well as a suitcase with essentials such as a fleece blanket, because it is the fastest way to get a runner who is freezing warmed up.
Create a bin for the front seat for items that you as the support vehicle need, but can be moved out of the way so that an athlete can sit down, without actually screwing up your maps, drinks, or your personal gear like GoPros or photography equipment.
If you’re doing a 24 hour event, those runners have to be able to manage getting through darkness and temperature change.
If I have an option and I need a runner to be able to get medical attention, I can actually move all of the seats down, push the gear further back and put an athlete laying down into the back of that SUV. Or I can use the fold-down seats to not fold down all the way but prop them up so they can elevate legs or heads.
Very rarely will I put two people in a support vehicle because the pure amount of details when you have a lot of people to support is that somebody will need extra time to gather something that has been forgotten, or is a “fun extra” which adds to the support time. A hot takeout pizza is a great example. I would rather put two people in two support vehicles and let them piggyback each other.
If the team is going to be running more than 30 miles I try to have support at every third mile, and break out snacks in groups so that each time those runners come to the snack tray they will see something different and that is what extra space is great for.