The importance of a support team to Ultra runners
Rory Coleman - world record holder and Ultra running events organizer, explains the importance of having your own support team:
Having your own team is vital for any race over 50 miles I would say. Having people that understand you and your needs and are rooting entirely for you makes a massive difference. On our races we like to offer that kind of support to our runners giving them personal encouragement and attention at all times. Support can be the make or break of any race…
Over the 23 hours of the race, Ben had a 3 man support team (plus his parents!) to help him at every step of the way. Jack A was one of the 3 and recalls the experience of what to expect as a support team:
Our main tasks included keeping him topped up with Jelly Babies, ensured he had dry socks/t-shirts ready if needed, let your runner know what’s coming up till the next refreshment post and of course keep him motivated! Along the finishing straight we ran with Ben and the crowds were absolutely incredible!
The finish line was all smiles and cheers, but it's a long 100km to get to that point. As a support team we had to work hard to keep him mentally motivated and physically prepared with food and dry clothing.
"Having a great support team is the difference between quitting or finishing. Without the solace of knowing my team awaited me I would've given up for sure."
Rule 1 is always being there before your runner! We learnt this the hard way when Ben arrived an hour earlier than we’d expected and he had to wait a couple of minutes for us to arrive. No matter what, be there, it may be cold, it may be raining but its nothing compared to what your runner is going through!
Ben's girlfriend Nikki advises:
Stay Relentlessly Positive
Remain always encouraging
Smile your ass off
And remember this, whoever you’re supporting was a Champion before the race started!
If you're interested in Ultra running and would like to join a community of running-crazed lunatics, then a great way to get into it is to volunteer as a support team. Check out local races near you (or go for an international one and combine it with a holiday!), contact the organisers and offer to volunteer - they'll always be glad of more help!
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