Chicago Fitness & Recovery Center

Crewing an Ultra: Tales & Takeaways by Coach Shawna

Membership and Day Pass in Chicago - EDGE Athlete Lounge

Last summer, I decided to crew CCC in Chamonix France for my friend Miana. Leading up to the race we had planned all of the details of where we were going to stay, when we were going to check in, how we were going to get there, but one thing we didn't talk about was how I was going to get around other than using Transportation provided by the race.  We bought my bus ticket provided through the UTMB website; all seemed good to go.

/ / PLAN YOUR CREW TRANSPORT & PACK TWO BAGS / /

I printed it out before we left the states and had everything ready to go. It happened to be raining the entire time we were there so basically once we had checked in and got her race packet we went back to our hotel and we didn't leave. Around 9:30 that night I was putting together all of my gear that I would use the next day only to realize that I was supposed to have a special stamp on my ticket that you would get at bib pickup! Seemed a bit odd because I bought the ticket online and I was able to print it off at home. I'm frantically scouring the internet to see if there any other options that I have now that everything is closed; I can't find anything. So that night we decide to make two bags: one that Miana will take with her and check and my bag in case.

When we went to wait for our bus and I'm praying in my head that I'm going to get on only to have the bus show up 40 minutes late. I however wasn't that worried because I didn't have anywhere to be Miana on the other hand had a race to get to! There were other fellow runners/spectators waiting with us. One of the Americans called the race organization telling them that there were probably 20 of us waiting for a bus to the start. They finally got a bus to come out that was packed and a van to transport us all in to town, which to my delight meant they were too panicked to check tickets!

Miana went off to start and I had all of her stuff that she would need at the midway checkpoint - we weren't allowed to Aid the runners until the 50k mark. I get on the transport bus to the first checkpoint where you can at least see the runners. As time passes I start to fear I'm not going to see her at the halfway point, even though I haven’t seen her yet. So I head back to the bus thinking that everything will be okay and I'll get to the 50k point way early. Well the buses are not running every 30 minutes, they are running about every hour and a half. Once the bus arrived I hopped on, it took me back into Chamonix where I had to get on another bus. By the time our bus arrived I had missed my connection so I had to wait another hour!

/ / STICK WITH THE MEETUP POINT AND KEEP LOOKING / /

Panic is starting to set in because I know I have approximately two hours to get to her. The next bus arrived and at this point it’s just a ride it out and hope for the best! I made it to the 50k mark and hustled up the hill to the runner’s tent to find her. I checked in (each crew person has a ticket to get scanned in order to know if their runner has arrived) to find out she was in the tent. I wandered around trying to text her and those back home to see if they knew where she was. FINALLY on my last pass I literally ran in to her. This made me feel so much better but so mad I wasn’t early and prepared for her. After this I told her I was hopping on the first bus to get to the next checkpoint and see her one last time before the finish and that’s exactly what I did.

/ / WHEN IN DOUBT, JUMP ON THE EARLY BUS. EVEN BETTER, RENT A CAR / /

Although the UTMB bus system did get me where I needed to go it just was not a very efficient system. If you have fast runners, and are planning on using UTMB transport, which you're trying to see the only option you really have is to go to the start and then take the bus directly to the 50k checkpoint. From there you could go to the next aid station where you can help them if you catch a bus right away, otherwise you should go directly to the finish line or you will miss them at the Finish. Doing it over again with someone I would want to rent a car. This gives much more flexibility. If the plan is to see people in multiple spots a car is definitely the way to go. I would definitely have a co-pilot since some of the areas are a little remote and can be confusing.

/ / CREW GEAR MUST HAVE: COMPRESSION / /

A few things I’m grateful that I had on me. Due to the climate and the weather conditions I was so glad that I had worn my CWX running tights and my CEP compression socks. I was so cold at some points that I was so grateful to have that compression on me because it helped keep the blood flowing a bit more when walking around that I didn’t seem to get as cold as I normally would. I also did so much hiking and running around that day I for sure thought I would be sore the next day. NOPE! No sore quads or hammies! Thank you wearable compression.

We stayed in town to watch the finishers for the UTMB so we did even more walking around after Miana ran 60+ miles in her CWX compression capris and CEP compression socks. Even the next day, had I not known Miana ran that race, I couldn’t tell by her ability to move so well. I full attribute this to her excellent training, EDGE Recovery tools, and compression wear. I saw the way Miana functioned three days later going for a light jog with me even back up a mountain and she wore compression tights for her entire race. I truly believe having the right gear makes a difference. Since I couldn't carry Edge Travel Boots with me on the trip, due to needing as much carry-on capacity as possible, compression gear is the next best thing. I encourage everyone to have a pair of compression socks and a pair of compression bottoms, it depends on what your preference is, I like ¾ and pants but they have shorts too. If you're going to check a bag then I definitely encourage you to rent travel boots from EDGE because that was the only thing we were missing on our trip!





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