5 Things Every Ultramarathoner Needs on Race Day

Wondering if you’re ready for race day? Wonder no more.

It all starts with…

#1 Solid Training

runner stretching on bridge

Trust your training. You know you’ve put in the miles. You’ve spent countless hours, days, weeks, even months suffering and sacrificing to get to the starting line.

Think of the mornings you wanted to stay curled up under the warm blankets but dragged yourself into your running shoes and out the door. The skipped after-hours drinks with co-workers in order to make it to your favorite *gasp* yoga class.

Who are you? Yoga? Really? Yes, really.

Your training has taught you a lot. Including that you have amazing family and friends that support you and your “crazy idea of running an insane amount of miles”. Which leads us too…

Supportive Crew

support crew

No person completes an ultra without some amount of support. No doubt a spouse or significant other or grandparent watched your kids during a long run or two. No kids? Let’s talk about the massage therapist who kneaded your muscles back into shape after you pounded on them? Not into massages? What about your running partner whose training plan you used to prep for your race? Or the running board forums you consulted for weather expectations and gear? I thought so.

Guess what? Those people want you to ask them for help. They enjoy being a part of the reason why you are happy. These wonderful, giving, supportive people in your life know that running brings you joy and they take pride in being a part of your life.

On race day, having support can be a critical determinant of success. But don’t take my word for it.

Here are what a few prominent race events have posted on their websites when it comes to the importance of having crew:

Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run

“We strongly recommend that you bring someone to crew for you. Not only will a crew provide a psychological lift, but having one will ensure that you have the food and drink you prefer and changes of clothing along the way.”

Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run

“You may be the difference between your runner having a wonderful experience or an agonizing journey in misery. Seeing you at crew accessible aid stations and knowing you are cheering them on gives runners their biggest boost in morale and confidence. You can truly pull your runner through when the going gets tough.”

Aravaipa Running

“Aid stations offer support for runners, but sometimes more may be wanted by the runner. While a drop bag provides supplies, a crew can give the runner additional supplies, massages as well as mental and emotional support. This can be a huge asset for newer runners. Ultra marathons are filled with highs and lows, not just elevation wise, but physically and mentally.“

Enlist a friend, a cheering squad (a.k.a. friends), a family member or your entire sorority to help you on race day. Or at least one single human being with functioning legs to drive you back to your hotel room or to help drag you to your campsite after the race. Ya feel me?

Think of how much better your race will be if you have someone to slather on more sunscreen at designated crew access points while you refuel. Find friendly, knowledgeable crew that understands how an unwrapped, ready to devour granola bar is worth ten wrapped ones. Having a helping hand to strip off sweaty layers in order to put a fresh, dry layer on between the morning heat and the coming night chill is priceless.

Reliable Gear


Race day is not the time to test new gear. This we know is true. Familiarity is key. You don’t break in a new pair of running shoes on race day. You wear a headband that you know wicks away sweat and keeps your hair out of your face. Your drop bag has the same kind of anti-chafing cream you have been coating your skin with for months.

You bring the gear that you know how it will performs under pressure because you battle tested it in the weeks and miles before race day. Decrease your stress on race day by using the same products you trained in. And the same pretty much goes for nutrition. Keep reading.

Nutrition Plan


You’ve heard enough stories of runners whose race day was ruined because they couldn’t keep their food down, didn’t consume enough food, and ate or drank an unfamiliar piece of nutrition.

I once overheard a story at Leadville 100 MTB (I know, we’re talking about running and I’m telling a cycling story…apologies…) that a racer saw one of the elite athletes consuming a particular nutritional shake at an aid station. He had never tried these types of shakes before, but he’d seen them advertised in commercials on television and now saw someone he respected using the product, so he decided to incorporate it into his race day diet.

The sh**s, my friends. He got the sh**s. BAD. On race day. And swore he would tell his tale to as many people as he could henceforth so that no one would destroy their race day as he had so magnificently done to his own.

End scene.

Bottom line: Eat what looks good, but also what you know your stomach can handle. And keep eating


forest and lake and mountains

Find your ‘why’.  Why did you sign up for this race? Why did you spend a lot of time training, not exercising, TRAINING?

Why did you spend your vacation days and hard-earned cash to get you to the starting line at this particular race?

Know your why. And it better be a good one.

Because when you hit a low during your race, and you will, it may be the very thing that saves you from a DNF. Give yourself a race-saving reason to not just show up, but to finish what you started.

Share your why with your ultra support crew so that when you get low, and you will get low, they will know what to say to you. They will remind you of your why. And you will thank them for it. Maybe not in the exact moment they are repeating your why back to you…but later on.

Much later on. Much, much later on…

Interested in trying an ultra? Got questions? Hit me up on my contact form.