Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Support crew, we need you

I chatted to a chap yesterday, whose team withdrew at the last minute from the UGE 150/220 when their support crew person's dad had an emergency medical situation that prevented them from assisting the team. After weeks of preparation and excited anticipation, he described the experience of withdrawing at the 11th hour as "quasi-traumatic. It's still a taboo topic". The fact is, without support crew, adventure racers cannot race.

There were a lot of emails going out pre-race with teams looking for support crew or even just requesting drivers to move their vehicles from one transition to another. Teams were prepared to support themselves just to be there. My mom asked, "Don't they have parents and friends who will help?"

And this is exactly it... Racers, you'll nod in agreement when I say that it is incredibly difficult to find eager, reliable support crew. How many of you have been left in the lurch when a "friend" calls two days before you're due to depart to say that they have a sore throat? Partners and spouses sometimes volunteer and you'll spot the odd parent in the transition area. But for the most part, nailing down a friend or family member is like going out frog catching with baby oil on your hands.

If AR was like athletics, your supporters could gather in the stands. If it was cricket, they'd watch from the lawns and if it was cycling, they'd wait at the finish. In these sports supporters are appreciated; but in AR supporters are NEEDED and APPRECIATED.

Whether you sell it to your friends and relations as a weekend away or an opportunity to explore incredible regions of our country, what it really boils down to is an opportunity for your friends, partners and parents to show their support of your participation AND their support of you.

You can show your appreciation by making the supporting experience pleasant:
  • cover all their expenses and include nice munchies in the food crates
  • make sure you have proper seconding equipment: tables, gas stoves, flasks, good lighting, cooler boxes, water containers, washing up stuff
  • provide a decent support vehicle - make sure you have a spare tyre, jack, tow-rope, jumper leads - and bike/boat transportation system
  • leave the transition areas tidy when you leave; re-pack your race crates, follow their instructions, eat all your food and don't leave smelly socks lying around. No need to be a piggy - they're not there to clean up after you
  • say thank you and never grouch
  • offer to mow their lawn, clean their pool or babysit children for a month after the race

I don't have a solution to the support crew shortage but I do question why there are so many "friends" out there who won't give their adventure racing friends their support?


Anonymous said...

I was inspired to see the actions of a pair that had raced the UGE 220km. When they won a lucky draw prize, they chose gifts and immediately walked over to their seconds and gave it to them. What unselfish behaviour!

coydogheath said...

hey baby girl, whats new? ah the support person. i love it!