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A 50-mile GORUCK Star Course presents several logistical challenges, with resupply being one of the most significant. The courses can cover an expansive space, and the route is not known until right before you step off, so drop bags are not an option. Since having a support crew is allowed, this seems the most logical way to address the issues of food, water, and personal gear.
The first option for having a support crew is Dedicated Support. This kind soul is committed to the team for the duration of the event! They are often a spouse, or GRT friend, who may think 50-mile participants are stupid but are happy to provide you with water.
Dedicated Support may be present at the start, might help with parking and route planning, and will arrange to meet the team several times. Dedicated Support can often follow two teams, and this is made much easier if they have similar routes planned. Prior to leaving the start point, decide on an approximate time and place for the first break. Depending on the course, you may not need much, or you may be black on water, or just want to change socks. Having them meet you around 1 AM is awesome, a common time teams often want to change something about their situation. Most Dedicated Support will then head to home/hotel to catch a few hours of sleep while you continue to log the miles.
Daybreak is the next time most teams will see their Dedicated Support person, who might arrive with a glorious breakfast of fast food biscuits and coffee. Knowing this is coming, so you don't have to deviate your route at all, is so helpful.
After the early morning stop, when you next see your Dedicated Support may depend on the course. In a really drivable city, you may see them 2-3 more times for water, Gatorade, shoe changes, sunscreen needs, bananas, oranges, or even to pick up team members who have to drop. In a not so drivable city, they might have to park and ruck in to meet you for resupply.
The last job for the Dedicated Support person is at the finish. They should scope it out, if the end point is different than the start, so you take the most direct route there. Or, meet you as you arrive, to take your celebratory pics! Once you have finished, having a fresh person around is helpful to provide essentials such as beer and pizza. No question, if you can convince ANYONE to be your Dedicated Support person, you should go this route!
Packing List for Dedicated Support:
- Folding Chair for each team member
- Gear bag/box packed by each team member with their personal supplies (clothes, food, sunscreen, warm clothes, rain gear, shoe and sock change, flip flops)
- Gallons jugs of water to refill water bladders, Gatorade, bananas, oranges, M&Ms.
- Contractor bags
- Money from the team for food purchases
- Download tracking app (Life 360 is one option) so the Dedicated Support can easily track the team
- First Aid Supplies
Drive-By Support can be one or more different people, who meet the team a single time each. This can work if there is no one available for Dedicated Support, as even a single resupply can be really valuable.
Loosely plan your Drive-By Support team stops ahead of time, based on driver availability, and then refine the stops after you finish your route plan. Clear communication is essential with your Drive-By Support, as they may have a limited window to meet you. Consider traffic and parking options as you pick your meeting points, for maximum efficiency.
A breakfast Drive-By is always a good idea, so you don't deviate from your route to find food, and you don’t waste time standing in line. A midday Drive-By is helpful, as you may need new clothes or shoes by then, depending on how conditions have changed. If you are utilizing this method, consider hiding your car keys where your Support can get to them, so they can fetch needed items for you.
Don’t Need ‘Em
The last type of support is Don’t Need ‘Em. This works for folks who have done a lot of Ultra distance events and have their nutrition and gear really dialed in. It’s fine for teams with a high risk tolerance, who are willing to accept rucking in weather they are inappropriately clothed for. Don't Need 'Em also happens due to poor planning and organization.
Participants who elect this option will need to carry more water, food, and gear than with the other two types of support and should train appropriately for the additional ruck weight. Make sure you have plenty of cash as well as a credit card, because you will be purchasing food and water on your own and want all your options available (think cash only street vendors). Consider buying a water key to obtain water from building and gas station spigots. If you find yourself in this spot, try to make friends with a team at the start point who has a Dedicated Support person, as they may be willing to be on call for you in case of dire need!
Having a crew can make rucking 50+ miles slightly less challenging. Regardless of the type of Support Crew that works best for your team and situation, we hope you see how useful they are!