Team Support Can Be Messy, Especially When There Are Chips!

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.potato-chips-448737_1920

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.

Trail well.

Seven Magical Things to Add to Your Medical Kit

Because I’ve seen so many different kinds of injuries over the years from athletes, one of the things that I have been attentive to is my first aid kit. I have an extraordinary group of things that are put in my kit that have saved the day on different locations

1. Swiss Army knife – I have used that Swiss Army knife to do everything from pop blisters, take out road rash, cut toenails that rub, and even just open a bag of Skittles.

2. A lighter – useful if I have to burn shoe laces to make them lace up again, or need to open a package, or light a sparkler.

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3. Flashlight – this is a critical item, and always have extra batteries on hand too.

4. Chapstick – the sun is a brutal and ferocious beast, and sometimes Chapstick can save your lips not just from sun, wind and frost, but also from panting. Chapstick can also be used elsewhere on the body where you need lubrication, not just on the lips.

5. Multipurpose tool – this is an absolute lifesaver in fixing gear, pulling nails out of tires, or simply used to open pop cans that break.

6. Rubber bands are the near-glue of the world. They can keep ice packs in place, they can hold towels on, they can also be critical in keeping groups of items together in your gear bag.

7. Old fashioned gauze – it is a miracle from the heavens and will relieve aching in shoes or throbbing, chafing man junk. Gauze is not just for breakfast anymore!

Trail well.

Adding Six Hot Proteins From Restaurants to SAG Wagon

One of the treats that athletes need later in many endurance activities is the addition of protein rich hot foods. When adding in hot foods, you should really look at items that the athlete can eat and not regret throwing up.

Some foods to consider are foods that are physically light weight.

Flat crust cheese pizza is a great fit – keep the pieces very small and lean.food-995948_1920

Hot toasty cheese bread will deliver salty goodness, fast energy, and protein.

Egg white omelette on toast, cut into bite-size pieces.

Baked beans in a sauce container about the size of a shot glass.

Grilled chicken – cut into pieces with no additional sauce.

Lasagna that is cut into small bites about the size of a shot glass.

The critical thing to remember with proteins are that hot protein given to an endurance person should be given in small doses and preferably more often. When athletes are doing more than 25 miles in one day, protein (and specifically hot protein) is a real endurance additive.

Trail well.

Choosing and Plot Pointing Where to Meet Up with Endurance Athletes on a Trail

When choosing to meet athletes on an endurance trail, the first thing to do is get as detailed of a paper map as you possibly can to chart the course out on a physical piece of paper. A GPS is not going to work in all areas. Cell phones fail and so do GPS systems on cars.

When plotting out the spaces, the first 10 miles of the trail do not rmap-455769_1280equire as
many trail stops as the distances will over 20 miles. From 20 miles forward, the SAG (Support and Gear wagon) should plan on an appearance every 3 to 4 miles.

That distance is going to depend on the safety of the athletes and where they can physically pull off away from traffic, or where a car can meet them.

Great places to stop are also places that have facilities like gas stations or parks with portable bathrooms.

If you are doing a road race that is going to put you against the freeway, then you are always looking to pull those athletes off the freeway into safety zones. Do not just stop on the side of the road or in a ditch with your emergency blinkers on. Look for places that you can turn the car off of the main road that is very light with travel – a dirt road is perfect, and will give that runner enough space where they can see oncoming traffic and spot the vehicle.

One of the things that I will frequently do is post a paper version of the road map on top of one of the coolers so that the athletes can track exactly where they are on the course, and they can have a mental image of when they will see the SAG again next.

Trail well.