There are many things to be said about running an ultra marathon. First off, there is the challenge. There is beautiful scenery. There is fueling and clothing and hiking and walking and sometimes even a little running mixed in just for fun. But the one thing we runners sometimes forget about is the waiting.
Waiting is the crew’s struggle of the day. In the five minutes that the runner is at an aid station the crew bustles around filling water bottles, checking food supplies, and handing off Body Glide, all the while assessing the overall health and stamina of the runner. Water him, feed him, pack him up and send him off. And then they wait. And wait.
It’s strange for me, this waiting for and waiting on the runner as I am usually the one running the race. Crewing is a different game altogether. You are a great crew if you handle all your runners needs with efficient, quick turn over, and a lousy crew if you slow your runners progress. I’d say we were a middle of the pack crew for Miwok, taking great care of our runner, but forgetting to pack the pudding cups that our runner had earlier requested.
The long waiting hours between our call to service gave me plenty of time for visiting with friends I hadn’t seen for awhile. This time I was lucky to see my friend, Darshan, who was crewing for another runner. I met him a few years ago volunteering at a race aid station in the Bay Area, and have since run with him at several different races. My fondest memory of Darshan is when he guided us through the long foggy night at Headlands Hundred in 2010.
What I’m always impressed with is his gentle spirit, his kindness and this time, his generosity. When I commented on a fancy new Cannon camera he was holding, his immediate reaction was, “Here,” as he handed it to me. It was brand new. He’d just bought it with his income tax returns and there it was in my hands before he could even explain its unique functions. “Go ahead. Try it.” And I was shooting photos in moments. He didn’t hover. He didn’t watch over me with a guarded eye. Instead he just let me play with his new toy.
It was a pretty cool camera, and even cooler when he explained that he could control it from his iPhone, a function he showed me after I’d played with it for a bit.
So the thing I’m taking away from my long hours of waiting is not drudgery in anyway, or even how cool this new fandangled camera was, but how easy it is for some people to be generous of spirit. I’m not quite sure how he ended up different from me in that way, but for me it’s a lesson worth learning.