By Tania Taylor | Managing Director of Coastrek
So you’ve said YES to being a support crew for your loved one’s Coastrek team, and you want to make it super special.
I feel you!
Recently I was so privileged to have the role of support crew for a team who were taking on a 50km team trekking challenge.
From the outset, I knew I wanted to make this an experience that would motivate them all the way to the finish line. When your feet are tired, your limbs are listless and your blisters have sisters, you want a rocking support crew to help ease the pain.
It took a lot of careful planning – and a secret I learned was going on the training walks with the team gave me insights into what they liked and valued and also what their fears were. With this in mind, I started planning our day and making sure I had a special treat for each of them and some items in my ‘toolkit’ should they lose their mojo!
Meanwhile I had serious FOMO!
Note: I wanted to go OTT and be a rockstar support crew, but I know this is not possible for everyone. You can still do the basics – yummy food, fresh socks and a takeaway coffee – and your team will love you for it!
Being a support crew is a HUGE time commitment… the whole day can be 18 to 20 hours.
Time their training walks and discuss the team’s pace, their expectations of timings and how long they want to stop for. Then add some hours! The stops could be longer, injury may slow them down or they may get chatting at the Luv Stop and not move on as fast as they intended.
You won’t have time to do the school drop or do a load of laundry! Plan your errands and food pick-ups carefully so you get to the checkpoints in good time to set up a warm and welcoming environment. There is a lot of waiting around and killing time – so take a book or have your favourite podcast ready to go when you get a break. Look after you – you can’t peak too early!
Make sure you have a clear plan on how to get to the start line, where to meet most importantly don’t forget that you are responsible to returning them to their cars at the end of the day.
Event Day meals can occur at an irregular pace - breakfast may happen at 10am or lunch may happen at 4pm depending on start times and distances between stops. Do careful planning around those times of day, the weather and what is appropriate fuel for Event Day. Do not serve a spicy curry or anything that may cause a tricky tummy. Sandwiches or soup is great.
I thoroughly enjoy entertaining, so for me it was a labour of love. I planned each stop with a specific menu in mind to ensure the team stayed fuelled but also felt spoilt. Small, delicious, nutritious treats are important to keep conversation flowing and motivation up. A tip if you want to go the extra mile - using proper cutlery and crockery is a genuine treat when you’re out on the trail and it saves waste too! Make it uncomplicated by using mugs for soup and pre slice bread.
Comfort is queen… bring chairs!
I brought a foldable table and chairs, and my team absolutely loved it. When their feet, knees and legs were sore and tired, it was much more comfortable than a picnic blanket.
If you don’t have tables and chairs, you don’t need to go and buy them! Work out your stops at locations with picnic tables already and get there early to nab one for your team.
Treat them like superstars
These superstars are putting in a massive effort and should be rewarded. I wanted to include treats that would make them feel like the VIP superstars they were to me but were still easy to execute.
For example, I took a preloaded coffee plunger, a bottle of Kahlua and a flask of hot water to one stop and made mini espresso martinis as a pick-me-up treat.
At another stop I put a linen tablecloth runner on the table with some bright and colourful flowers I’d picked up at Harris Farm with fresh fruit and kombucha to quench their midday thirsts and added a chargrill chicken, salads and fresh bread rolls. Simple but effective – they were overjoyed and had the fuel and motivation to move on to the next stop.
Carry their spare gear
At the 35km mark the team were tired, sweaty and feeling a little meh! What brought a smile to their faces was a fresh t-shirt, a warm jumper and clean socks! The delight of knowing your support crew has carried your spare gear to lighten your load and make your day fresher is a delight.
We packed gear into plastic laundry buckets or storage boxes which made them stackable and easy to pack and unpack out of the car. Take some spare t-shirts and gear for those who may have forgotten something and if you’re really, really after a dazzling smile then have a knee brace, a trekking pole, or a band-aid ready when they need one!
Celebrate their success
At the finish line your role is critical – you are the chief cheer squad, photographer, ‘go-fetcher’ and most importantly the bearer of champagne, sparkling water and fresh strawberries or even some warm home-made chocolate brownies (I got my husband to whip them up while I was doing a transition run at home?). The team loved it and it made them feel warm and loved!
In essence, it’s a day of service and it’s all about them and their needs. Go the extra mile – you’ll feel so rewarded just to see the delight on their faces and knowing you changed a long, hard slog into a pretty amazing experience that they will treasure along with their finisher’s medal!
If you're a Coastrekker or a Support Crew, come and join us in our Facebook groups to ask questions and meet our community!