Crewing an Ultramarathon: A Firsthand Report from a 100 Mile Race

It’s not every runner who can claim to have run and completed a 100 mile Ultramarathon – this incredible feat was recently accomplished by fellow dailymiler Andy O. In his amazing write-up regarding his experience running the Burning River 100 Mile Ultramarathon, Andy gives credit to his crew as being essential to his success in completing the event. In an example of the power of the internet to bring people together for a common cause, all of Andy’s crew members were also members of dailymile (Paul P., Pamela A., and Jenny J.). In fact, Andy had never even met Pamela or Jenny prior to the race. What follows is the perspective of one of those crew members, Jenny J., regarding what it is like to watch and help runners to complete a grueling endurance event like the BR 100. In her own words, here is Jenny’s crew report:

Andy (front) and his Crew: Paul, Pamela, and Jenny



I’m not even sure where to begin–what a whirlwind trip…!

I drove up to the BR100 race site Saturday morning and arrived at Station Bridge around 10:30am, meeting up with Paul P (super nice guy and navigator extraordinaire). Such a cool scene–groups of people dotted all over the grass, waiting for “their racer”. There was just a huge sense of camaraderie and dedication. We were all there for the very same reason.

Paul was all set with Andy’s gear and it wasn’t long after that Andy came blazing over a bridge for his first crew stop. He was looking really strong and not at all fatigued at mile 33.3. After wardrobe change #1, he was off again and Paul and I were onto the next crew station.

If there was ever waiting around, it didn’t seem like much–between restocking the bottles, making sure clothes were ready and finding the next stop, time seemed to fly by. Andy, by the way, had EVERYTHING über organized, so there was very little to think about when handing him the next round of supplies. At each stop, we watched racers find their crew, some looking better than others. I can honestly say that I never saw any signs of fatigue in Andy until maybe around mile 88 and even then, he was tired, but not limping or dejected.

Jenny Getting Andy Some Much-Needed Fuel

Paul decided to walk a stretch with Andy and went from miles 70.9-74.2. My leg picked up where his left off. I think it was around 10:45pm when we headed out for our first 6.6 mile stretch. This was really the first chance I had to spend any time with him, other than rushing him out of aid stations. There was some chit chat but for the most part, he was very focused–so close to accomplishing this huge feat. I’m not sure if I was any help during those miles but I sure was glad for the company. All those trails are super creepy in the overnight hours! I swear there were animals stalking us.

Late Race Crew Station

I handed Andy off to Pamela A. around mile 94 and headed out with Paul to find the last aid station before the finish. The later (or earlier) it got, the less people were at each aid station. At the last stop, there was just a smattering. They were in and out of that station pretty quickly and onto the last 4.8 miles. Paul and I arrived at the finish line and let me just tell you how inspirational it is standing at the finish of an ultra. After 26+ hours on their feet, runners gave it their all to run the last leg of the race. I was wishing I had a cowbell to make some noise and cheer Andy on as he crossed. I have a loud enough mouth to cheer him on, though!

Andy and Pamela Nearing the Finish

All in all, it was an incredible experience–one I can’t really put into words. I only went 20 miles–I can’t imagine how absolutely incredible it was for Andy as he reached his goal of 101.1 miles. Dude, you are truly inspirational. You ALMOST made me want to attempt such a race. ;) I think I’ll stick to crewing (Editor’s Note – Jenny’s Ultra days may be beginning in 2011 – stay tuned!).

To add Jenny J. as a friend, visit her dailymile profile page.

To read Andy O’s full account of running the Burning River 100 mile ultramarathon, visit his blog here: http://blog.andyobrien.com/2010/08/burning-river-100/

About Peter L.

I'm a dad to three little kids, small college anatomy/physiology professor, distance and dog running fanatic, blogger (http://www.runblogger.com), dailymile Team member, and gear/shoe junkie from NH.
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