Captain’s Blog: FREE GEAR!

A few weeks ago I asked all of you for your best tips and tricks. A few of you came through with some gems. But facts are facts: Most of you ignored me. So now I’m offering bribes.

As I type, the folks at RTB headquarters are hard at work printing up some extra-special RTB training shirts special for moments like this. So here’s the deal:

  1. Post your best tips and trick here or on Facebook. These could be anything logistics- or race-related that would help new or veteran captains.
  2. I’ll pick my favorites and put them up for a vote on Facebook.
  3. The most popular idea wins a brand new RTB training shirt. Simple as that.

So let’s hear ’em—what’s the best advice you can offer to this year’s RTB team captains?

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17 Responses to Captain’s Blog: FREE GEAR!

  1. Elaine says:

    Send out email blasts to team members to help reduce bringing multiples of some items (The Stick, foam rollers, duct tape, etc.). Have people bring their running foods (gu, power bloks, etc.) andone or two of their own favorite snacks, with enough to share with others in the van (Twizzlers, pretzels, etc.) Pick up extra water and gatorade along the way (large bottles can be used to fill runners own drinking bottles, reducing all the individual ones.) Tie shoes together. Pack clothing in ziplock bags for each leg and label them. Keep only things need for the race within the van and stow things needed before and after either in a cargo holder or other out of the way place. If traveling in two vans, make sure gear goes in correct van. Check the weather forecast as close to race time and pack accordingly. Bring extra batteries. Label belongings.

  2. lisa christie says:

    tip for ultra teams… Ultra Swift Chicks designed a rotation for all of us before we started.. we were either running.. sleeping…supporintg the runner (go out with them to start and bring other runner back to car)..changing clothes and preparing to run.. we made some alterations to give someone more sleep a few times, but having this set out ahead ensured everything did not fall apart in the middle of the night when 6 sleep deprived women had to figure it all out.. we had a great time and came in #1 in Women’s ultra teams..

  3. if everyone on your team will be taking turns driving, make sure people look through the road maps ahead of time, and designate someone to partner with the driver to be “co-pilot”. getting lost sucks.
    also, as a previous captain, another piece of advice is to have at least 2 people ready to be alternates right up until the last day ebfore the race. anything can happen, and losing people that close to the race can really throw off the whole thing (fairly common/unavoidable)

  4. I think I posted last time and I had a new relay captain reach out to me for some tips. Here’s what I shared with her.

    Make Team Shirts
    Decorate your team van
    Prepare your team to enjoy everything on NO sleep.
    Prepare yourself for all types of weather
    Make sure you know your routes, create a driving schedule so everyone has a turn driving and resting.
    Stay as close to your runners on the road… the areas you are running in are unfamiliar to all runners so stay close encase they need anything.
    Raise money if you want for a charity you all believe in.
    Take tons of photos and videos because at the end of it all you’ll want those memories!
    Tweet/fb your locations and team updates to your friends.
    Things you should get together ahead of time:
    -decided if you are getting a hotel for your half way over night point
    -have everyone buy a running head lamp, vest and lights.
    -Have everyone at the start line & finish line.. so you can all enjoy the experience together. We thought it would be easier to have Van2 just meet us at TA6 but they missed out on the fun part of starting the event.
    -Have a GPS and all sorts of chargers
    -Food, water, Gatorade for the vans. Make sandwiches before hand.. have some pre packed food. We did not eat enough while on the road..

    OK and my last major captain must do. Make sure you have a back up, whose ready (even a day before) to take someone else spot. Give your team a deadline to back out with a refund but prepare everyone to not getting their money back if they back out last minute. Sounds harsh but its a commitment that every team member should take seriously.

  5. George Lavash says:

    If you are renting 15 passenger vans, this tip is for you.

    Take the front two bench seats out of the van. Lay down some blankets and carpet remnants for padding.

    This gives you a spacious area that allows your on-deck runner to prepare and stretch before their run. It also allows your just finished runner a nice place to stretch out and cool down after their run, without getting a seat all sweaty. Lots of room for coolers, trash, etc as well.

    We have done this for 10+ years, it really works great.

  6. Joni says:

    Some tips & tricks from Winner Winner Chicken Dinner:

    1. Find a way to make your team recognizable – a mascot, van decorations, costumes, etc. This encourages team spirit and gets other people excited about your team as well. We have a horrible screaming rubber chicken, which we squeeze at each other out the van windows.

    2. Everyone is responsible for their OWN food and water. We have tried to have one person purchase food for the entire team in the past and it never works. Also, you seriously do not need ten pounds of granola or trail mix and sixty packages of Gu. You are only out there for ONE DAY, just eat like a normal person! Stop and buy a sandwich, for Pete’s sake!

    3. Have extra safety vests and lights. At least 4 vests per van, extra vest lights, and a headlamp for every team member. They sell headlamps at WalMart in the camping section for $4 and up so there is no reason everyone should not have one. Also, the headlamps that have a hinge and can be adjusted to focus the light on the ground are better than the ones which don’t. Another tip: PICK UP YOUR KNEES when you are running at night…it will help prevent you from tripping.

    4. Don’t fudge your predicted pace to get an earlier start time. You will end up missing out on the amazing craziness of the last few hours of the race and end up finishing very early, all alone.

    • Eric Oberg says:

      I am so with you on #2! Trying to bring some sanity to the team each year regarding food. We ALWAYS end up with way too much food at the finish.

  7. Laura Dempsey says:

    Fav tip #1: Packing is such a challenge, especially for those new to ‘van living’. I always pack each running outfit and other sets of clothes in Ziplock bags so I can easily find what I need (especially useful in the middle of the night). Then, after my run I can put my sweaty clothes back in the ziplock bag ensuring that their grossness won’t get near my clean clothes.

    Fav tip #2: Baby wipes! Bring plenty of them and encourage all teammates to use them to clean off after their run. It does the trick better than expected.

    Fav tip #3: Pack plenty of snacks. In this race you will probably throw off your eating schedule. Hungry runners are cranky van mates and that’s no fun.

  8. Captain WIMP says:

    Safety stuff:
    *have a list of emergency contacts for each person on the team (someone NOT at the race; if family members are running together, they can obviously make medical decisions, but I also insist on a non-race contact), just in case
    *we designate a cell phone for each van as the primary van and someone (usually the one with the keys) carry it at all times. Write this number on the back of your bib. If something happens during a run, you can call the van… if you aren’t running with a phone, flag down another team’s van and have them call (cell coverage is spotty, in my experience, only for the legs on rt 302)
    *since everyone outside of the van at night (when not at a TA) needs to be wearing a vest, requiring everyone to bring their own is helpful. Reflective vests are not expensive, and being seen can save your life.

    Food and beverage
    *Most of my team flys to the race, so bringing your own doesn’t work. We go grocery shopping together, and each van picks out what they want for the race communally. We are good at sharing and compromising on things. My van usually gets some salty carbs, some sweet carbs, a protein source (like peanut butter), devil dogs (they deserve their own category!) for munchies, and something for breakfast Saturday am. My van eats dinner at a restaurant after our first set of legs, so that limits how much food we need.
    *some of us like chocolate milk after our legs, so we get some of that.
    *We buy bulk water and have everyone bring a water bottle. I figure 1 gal/ person plus 1 gal for the van and 1 gal for our water guzzler as a starting point. If it’s really hot, I’d add a gallon. Using this formula, we’ve never run out of water.
    *We mix one gal of sports drink from powder, and make more as needed.

    *I prefer minivans to 12 or 15 person vans (I’ve used both). Not over-packing helps with space. They are easier to drive, fit in smaller parking spaces and use less gas.
    *If runners are also drivers (I prefer not using a designated driver), be sure they don’t run consecutive legs, especially if the preceding leg is short
    *It’s a lot faster to drive off course to the next VTA when the van is off running, but if you do this, be sure you’ve looked at a map and have an idea of where you are going, since there are no arrows to follow!

    *Make a detailed list of what to bring, including any medications you need
    *3 full running outfits- 1/ leg- is nice to have, since putting on wet, sweaty clothes is rather unappealing
    *change out of said sweaty running clothes quickly after you run- you will feel much better
    *I bring a set of between-running clothes- a pair of pants, long-sleeved shirt, fleece, and weatherproof jacket- it can be wet and cold, especially overnight
    *Mylar blankets- like the give you at the finish of a marathon- are helpful- they’ll keep you warm while waiting for your incoming runner (especially if you are the outgoing runner- you can fling it off quickly and easily), they can keep you dry, you can sit on them outside (or in the van) and they take up almost no room
    *a first aid kit is nice to have for blisters, cuts and scrapes
    *extra plastic bags to fill with ice from the cooler can help with aches and pains

    *I don’t expect to sleep, mostly because history (6 years of the NH race now) says I will not sleep. Most of my vanmates manage an hour or two- many while I drive to the VTA in the middle of the night (I am obviously awake for this), but none of us expect to sleep.
    *If you have a runner who is a challenge to wake up and is decidedly NOT a morning person, it’s probably best to not have be the van’s first runner
    *decide how long you think you will need for the outgoing runner to be ready when leaving the VTA, so that the other van can give an appropriate heads up that they are on their way. We DO use a spreadsheet that estimates arrival times, but if runners are faster or slower than expected, that can get skewed. We generally use about an hour out call, but are flexible about that.
    *Portos in the dark can be VERY dark! A headlamp can help with visibility.

    I’m sure I have other pearls of “wisdom” but I will stop for now!

  9. Clinton Randall says:

    My best advice would be to enjoy the day! It’s going to be a long day/night, so make sure you enjoy it as best you can before the fatigue sets in.

  10. Rob O'B says:

    If at all possible, get the team up to the start on Thursday night and mix up the cars/vans for the drive up. The mixing and team meals will help you have a cohesive team even after you are separated into two six-person cliques. Team themes/decorations/apparel will also help with this.
    Have your runners wear distinctive lights at night so you can easily identify them.
    Create a list of things that each van should have and have your teammates sign up to bring one or more of those things. Examples include: car-phone chargers, cooler, tarp or large tent, basic first aid kit, music hook-up, etc.
    Encourage everyone to bring two pairs of running shoes in case one gets wet or is creating blisters.
    Create a team Google document where people can make packing suggestions and newbies can see what they need and what they don’t need.

  11. Running Lights says:

    Just REACH THE BEACH and HaVe FuN!!!!!!

  12. Jennifer Whitehead says:

    So many great suggestions have been made, so I won’t repeat. I think an important part of being captain besides the organizing is communicating and getting your team together. If you live close to each other, have team training runs. If you haven’t ever run at night, it is nice to experience it first with others. We have become known in our town for our night runs because people driving by can’t figure out what we are!
    We have several “meetings” before and after RTB. Our families seem to be catching onto our “meetings” because they have seen us with all the food and wine and beer but we really do talk running and RTB plans (some). We have also had after parties to celebrate with our families, sometimes several weeks after the race. After bonding so much with your team, it is really great to get to know their families, (if you don’t know them already). And it gives us a chance to re-live the race. RTB and running have become a part of who I am and the people I have experienced this with have become an important part of my life. Ride the high with people who get it and enjoy it to its fullest! See you on the road.

  13. Jackie says:

    Create a “time predictor” using a spreadsheet program. Begin with your start time, and add on each leg using it’s mileage and that runner’s estimated pace. It will change during the race due to several factors, but will give each van/runner a general idea of when they’ll be on/off. And each van can let the other know how far ahead/behind they are.

  14. Kelly - Night Stalking Care Bears Captain! says:

    This is a suggested list of items you should bring for yourself:

    Sleeping Bags or blanket for napping
    Running Shoes (2 pairs good idea if it rains)
    Running Clothes (3 sets of shorts, shirts, socks, underwear)
    1 Long Sleeve Running Shirt or jacket for night leg (can be very chilly at 2 AM)
    Bathing Suit (pool , jacuzzi at start, ocean at end)
    Non-running shoes or flip-flops
    Comfortable clothes for between legs – sweatpants if you got ‘em. Also,
    Ski Hat and Warm Gloves for at night, again it can dip below 40
    degrees in the Mountains
    Raincoat and warm layer (fleece, etc)
    Running Hat/Sunglasses/Sunblock
    Body Glide, blister protection, nip gards (yikes)
    Reflective running vest (we have plenty to share, if you want your own to use)
    Blinkies (we have plenty to share, if you want your own to use)
    Head Lamp (we have plenty to share, if you want your own to use)
    Cell phone
    Flashlight (optional)
    Chargers for phone, camera
    Cash, credit card
    Special snacks and drinks if you have a favorite, we will have lots of
    food, but if you like cupcakes, peanuts or pickles please pack your
    If you ran last year, bring your FUN socks please
    If you have run before, bring your 2008-2010 gear, let’s be the team
    who wears the shirt to the event and bear slap ‘em hard.

  15. Stephanie - TEAM VANSOME! says:

    2 quick tips that could make a difference


    In the midst of planning everything else you might not think this needs to be something to give any though to ahead of time but if possible try and figure out a good time to stop and gas up. My van had to gas up during my night run and had a hard time finding me after which resulted in me wondering where the heck my van was to show some support and left my captain fearing something had happened to me or maybe I had veered off course. They ended up finding me about a mile before my run was done and a teammate didn’t hesitate to hop out and run with me to give me some extra support which was much needed after a few miles alone…. which leads me to my next tip.

    TIP #2 BE SUPPORTIVE!! of your own runners and others!

    You want to have supportive people in your van. It’s always great to have a teammate get out of the van and ask how you’re doing during a run, if you need water, or just encourage you along the way. You will have runners at some point in the race that will need your support, whether it be physical aid or emotional. During my runs a simple beep and scream from another van was enough to perk me up and help me stay motivated through my longer run. Cheer your own runners on but also don’t forget to check in on other runners too! Reach the Beach is all about the experience so why not help make it better for everyone involved?

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Be nice to other people. That includes other teams. You never know when you’ll need to bum some pretzels off them during your last leg because it’s a million degrees outside and you need a salt fix.

    Make your team easy to identify. People like to make friends with a runner in a tutu. They will remember you & will cheer you on in the middle of the night when you need that extra boost.

    Don’t underestimate the healing power of a hot meal mid RTB. I love peanut butter & bananas as much (or probably more) than the next runner, but nothing makes you feel more human than a pit stop for pizza. Beer optional. :)

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