Our Running Chat

Crew and Pacer advice

Looking for advice on crew and Pacer planning for big races. In this specific instance the folks who crewed Jamie Hobbs at WSER but welcome any general tips and tricks. I have a solid set of folks and a plan but was hoping to get some “been there, done that” information. Never had Pacer/crew in previous races.

So let’s have it. What should every racer know about their crew and Pacer planning?


Okay… I think I’m going to contribute to this in a bullet way, because I’d never sit down to write it down all at once (it’s one of the reasons I started doing the podcast, because as much as I love writing, it takes me a while to do it…)

Crewing -
Know the course. Study the map. Know the places you’ll be meeting and know the route to get to them. Also, know routes for skipping one or going backwards to a previous. You may not have to share any of this with the runner, but you need to be able to be where you need to be.
Get to each spot early so you can do everything you need to do to be chilled out and ready when the runner shows up. Leave the previous spot and get to the next spot. Get everything prepped and then chill out or do all the things you need to do. A common mistake is to hang out at the previous spot or to think you have more time than you do. Get your ‘work’ done and then chill out and while you’re chilling talk through the plan with other crew members. If crewing alone, chat or talk to other crew. Talking through everything will bring things up to the front of your mind that you forgot.

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@Jesse , are you specifically looking for WSER crewing info? If so, there is quite a bit different than the typical, “this is an ultra” kind of crewing information.
SO much driving in WSER… SO much.

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I started the thread to open discussion but I would also like any insight specific to WSER if you are willing to share. I have two cars, two crew, 3 crew/pacer. 3 of 5 are experienced ultra folks but no one has WSER experience. Plan is to have one group stay in Auburn Friday so they are fresh for early stuff and give crew 2 some time to get over the hill. Also plan to have 1 crew bug out later evening and chill out in Auburn to be rested for post race handling. I relistened to you and Jamie H post WSER. Always looking for advice as the day draws near to make sure my crew is prepped.

For WSER specifically, they have a Crew A and Crew B strategy on their website, which we used as a solid starter.

I would definitely NOT suggest 1 crew trying to hit all the aid stations. I know someone who did that the year before us, she was totally blown up by the end of the day.

Also, for WSER, crew should definitely plan on very long entrances to their crewing locations. So heavy bags or big coolers will be difficult. Something on wheels might be useful. Also, crew should expect that they cannot go into the aid stations at all. They are completely fenced off. So you actually crew before and after the aid stations.


Other note for WSER… very little cell reception in many places (neither ATT or Verizon) up until ForestHill.

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I was checking cell service this weekend. Once you get off Forest hill rd into the aid stations you lose line of sight.
How bad was the green gate hike? I didn’t get a chance to recon that. The Driver Flat road to RC across is a nonstarter I think. They had us walk out during training run and that is a miserable 2 mile hill.

I actually didn’t end up going to Green Gate. The other crew went there, while we headed to Rucky Chucky.
We actually got to Rucky Chucky a little late and had to run down to the river to try and see the crossing. I actually didn’t make it down to the river before they had crossed. but got far enough down there to where I had a nice hike/run uphill back to the aid station.

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Side topic. Suggestions for Crew and Pacer Gifts? I got custom crew shirts and hoodies made but would like to do something thoughtful for the team. ~50 bucks and small enough to fit in a carry on.

Hobbs gave me a WSER shirt.
Some running related gear would be cool… this way they’d get to use it all the time

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Goodr sunglasses. Even if they have them they will need more eventually

I’m pretty excited that there is live coverage this year for wser…and an app! A nice way for my family to track me blowing up as I’m running “the marathon in California”. Unfortunately it looks like another wave of heat is lining up for the race.

Yea it’s cool that they set that up. I am resigned to safe playing canyons and keeping it together to see what I can make happen in the night. The canopy coverage in the deep climbs is pretty good but it’s just a straight oven with no breeze. The ridges are exposed but it seemed like solid breeze. I was there in the morning vs afternoon so I suspect it will be worse

I’m thinking the same thinking. Salt, quad, sun and calorie management during the day and hope I have something left at the end to make the buckle change color. I picked up some sun sleeves to stuff with ice but I need to figure out the ice bandanna this weekend. I also read taking the time to wade into the rivers to bring the core temp down is worth the time before going up the accents like devils thumb. This one seems more strategy important than others and I’m feeling like a real rookie. I guess I should just focus on having fun.

Sun sleeves, keep them wet. They are a great way to cool. I am going to be dunking them at every crossing. I never had luck packing them with ice. I think it will be easier with crew though.

Ice bandana. I sewed up a couple. Super simple. Just do normal bandana fold and see closed one side and then sew half of the other side. I added some clips to make the on off a bit easier. Makes it easier to load ice and quicker to swap.

Yes to dunking. The stream there are wonderfully cold

Ok, good tip, so you like sewing them. I saw both sewn and folded then rolled online.

How about drop bags? @ChrisO did you guys do drop bags in case the crew got stuck? I’m thinking a couple shoe changes will be in order if the feet are going to be wet all day from hosing down.

The main thing about wading in the streams though, remember, if you wash off your natural sweat, you could have chafing issues, so bring a 2Toms in your pack.

Also, yes, drop bags. Especially if your crew is crewing you after each aid station. You can pick up your bag before seeing them and then either give it to them unused or pull the shoes etc out of them. It will lighten the load of your crew as well.

If you’re on 24 hour pace, you can expect Michigan Bluff (ish) to be your last big crew aid station before dark. And probably expect to be crossing the river just after dark.

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I loaded up an old chapstick tube with bodyglide tonight so I have a super travel size in my vest. And I CLEARLY LABELED IT. Don’t want to mix that up with chapstick. Haha

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