Plants First, Fish Next

The original intent of this journal was to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the struggling twenty-something, as I searched for love and happiness in the small city-burb of ManchVegas, NH. Now, I'm thirty-something, I've found love in many forms, happiness in even more, and now the struggle is just... well... life. And finding time to do the million and one things I want to do- including writing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What do you need?

This is a question I asked about 8 million times this weekend. "What do you need? Fluids? Banana? Chips? Clothes?"

This weekend I was crewing for Sherpa and other various runners for his Run Across NH (RANH). Actually, this weekend My Runner and I crewed together. Any Ultra Runner (crazies who run for really long distances - like, longer than marathons. Did you know they had races longer than marathons?) will tell you that CREW stands for "Cranky Runner. Endless Waiting." They're not terribly far off. As Crew you essentially are waiting at pre-arranged points for your runner(s) to get in, you get them what they need, pack up, and move to the next point. You then wait for a few hours until the runners show up again, rinse, lather, repeat. And you know what? I kinda love it.

This is the second time I've crewed - the first being for My Runner at the VT50 a few weeks ago. That felt harder - I wasn't sure if I was doing things right, I'd never even done it before... but according to him I did great. Yay! This time I had My Runner to help, and his years of personal experience Ultra Running really helped me understand what a runner needs and when.

Why did I love it so much? All I hear is that it's a thankless job, crewing is hard, it sucks, etc. But I have to disagree on at least two of those points. Runners *constantly* thanked us. And perking up a runner who's tired or hurting is a great feeling - you just helped! This guy's already run farther than you've ever walked in one stretch and YOU helped him do it! That's not small.

Some things do suck about crewing. If it's cold, or rainy, or both, yeah, that sucks. But as crew you're just standing around in it, or better yet sitting in the car waiting. The runners are OUT in it. Thinking about it that way makes it really hard to complain about the weather. Crewing in a group is also WAY BETTER than crewing alone. You always have someone to talk to, plan out the next stop, etc. I met a lot of people at VT50 crewing alone, but I got to know some great people crewing in a group for the RANH.

It's really not that different from some of the work I do in the theatre. Actually, running an aid station was a lot like working costume changes for Beard of Avon (where actors play multiple characters dressed in Elizabethan costume, some playing both men and women). There's a certain amount of pre-planning crew needs to do to get things ready, then there's a rush of activity when the runners come off the road/actors come off the stage. It's all about them, their needs, and they are trusting you to take care of them. Then, they're off again, leaving you to pick up, pack up, and get ready for the next round.

I like the adrenaline rush of the moment, the planning and re-planning and going over the plan. I know I like crewing because I like helping people, but I think I love that element of trust. It's really teamwork, in a very pure form. In everyday life people don't place themselves in your hands like that. It brings us closer as humans, reminding us why we're on this planet together.

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