I attended the Toughest Mudder South event as crew and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had seen how World’s Toughest Mudder is with the tent village and assumed this would be similar so I prepared for that. This event was a little different. No tent village, only one large tent with places to put your racer’s gear. Everyone got half of an 8-foot table.
What to bring:
Food, snacks, drinks. (Enough water for you and your racer)
Weather appropriate clothing and gear.
Stopwatch, notepad, pen.
Something to do between pit stops.
The event near Smithville, Texas, obviously was a little smaller than the event near Las Vegas, but the goal was the same. As the crew, you are there to support your racer (sometimes more than one) and keep them fueled and safe. It’s up to the racer to bring their favorite fuel and clothing, but it’s you that keeps it organized and ready for them at each pit stop.
You and your racer(s) need a plan. My racer wanted a hydration drink, salt tabs and race goo for every stop. Then halfway through the night, he wanted his preferred pre-race mix. I had everything there at the lap transition area ready for him to choose what he wanted now and what he wanted to take with him out on course. (Side note: don’t let them touch anything that goes into their mouth. They have been through some nasty stuff out on course). Your racer may want to sit for a minute, change shoes, add or remove gear, or have tea and crumpets. Just make sure you have a plan and use the notepad to keep track.
Another very important aspect of your job is to keep your racer (and other racers) safe. This event was midnight to 8 AM, so mostly in the dark. That means headlamps and flashers at all times. Make sure they have them on when they leave the pit area. It often gets cold in the early hours of the morning and with an obstacle called Arctic Enema, your racer will be cold. They will need a way to keep their core temperature up. Utilize warm food or liquids, wetsuits, windbreakers and blankets/towels. If you think, for even a moment, that they are in any sort of danger get medical to check them out.
Now that you have your racer taken care of and they are back out on course, how do you take care of yourself? Bring something to do between pit stops. Your racer will be out there for who knows how long and you have to keep your mind occupied as you have probably been awake for much longer than normal. How do you know how long you have before they return? That’s what the stopwatch is for. Time the first lap. The first lap is usually the “Sprint Lap” where they have few or no obstacles open and this will be the fastest lap time they have all night. Once obstacles are added to the course and fatigue sets in, the lap times may get a little longer. Use the notepad to track them.
It was an enjoyable and exhausting experience. I didn’t spend any time on course, but I did put in quite a few miles. Back and forth to the car for supplies because I didn’t bring a cart and I had a 7 gallon of water…I felt like I was back at a BattleFrog race with those Jerry cans. To the gear storage tent for resupply, back to the pit area, back to gear tent where the microwaves were to heat up my coffee from earlier, back to the pit area in time to meet my racer. And on and on throughout the night and early morning. This was a race with money on the line, but the overall atmosphere was that we were all there for every racer. I saw one racer get help from a different racer’s crew when having trouble putting on a wetsuit. Racers were sharing supplies and gear. I shared some of our water with a crew that needed some. It was all for all.
So if a racer asks you to crew for them at the next Tough Mudder endurance event, know that it won’t be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, but it may end up being a fulfilling one.
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