Support Crew Guidelines
The nature of the event requires a vehicle to carry you and the team as well as all the team’s food and equipment. The restrictive size of the checkpoints allows only one vehicle per team. No trailers, towed caravans or vehicles longer than 1.5 standard cars (such as large campervans) are allowed.
As parking is limited at checkpoints, support crews are asked to be respectful of other crews and not arrive more than half an hour before your team’s scheduled arrival. You should leave promptly after attending to your team to make way for incoming support crews. Use a timetable showing your team’s estimated time of arrival as a guide. If you arrive at the checkpoints too early, you could be taking up valuable space needed by another support crew whose team is currently at the checkpoint.
Practice Makes Perfect
Your team is strongly encouraged to carry out at least one training ride, run or walk on the actual trail route and you should definitely try to join them. It helps you gain familiarity with the location of checkpoints, local shops, petrol stations, and other useful amenities. It will also help you gain an understanding of the challenge your team will be facing during the event. Use the team’s training walks to experiment with different foods and their preparation. Make a decision on the best approach and stick with it on the day.
Have a Game Plan
Create a strategy for the event weekend with your team. From their training times, determine when they are likely to arrive at each of the support crew access checkpoints. Determine at which checkpoints you will provide meals and which checkpoints your team will be sleeping (if at all). Be mindful that it is against the event rules to access your team at any location other than the designated checkpoints. Speak to your team or visit the website to confirm these details.
Prepare a schedule of requirements specific to each team member for each of these checkpoints. Pre-package food bundles for your team to eat on the trail. Consider preparing three tubs, each labelled with the team member’s name, to store their change of clothes and personal gear. These tubs can be laid out for the team to access with your assistance as they arrive at the checkpoints.
Work with your team to create an efficient plan that works for everyone. During the event when your team arrives there will be a flurry of activity, so it is important to work out ahead of time what your team is expecting. Being organised for your team will help them to keep moving.
Ensure you have at least one mobile phone with you at all times. Not only is it useful for you and your team to be in contact, it is also vital so the event staff can contact you in an emergency. Ensure you include car chargers in your kit for the weekend, so you can charge your team’s mobiles.
Love Them Even if They Don’t Love You
Supporting your team is more than just being at the checkpoint when they are. It’s about really being there for them. You should set out picnic chairs; serve them nourishing meals; be willing to massage their weary muscles; have a foot bath ready to soothe their tired and sore feet; and above all, accept the reality that not everything you do will be appreciated at the time. You are the un-sung heroes of this event. Take comfort knowing that even before the blisters have healed your team will recognise your efforts, and thank you for your care.
Dollars and Sense
Agree on a budget in advance to work out who will cover the costs of fuel, food, drink and any accommodation or vehicle hire. Ensure the team does not leave you out of pocket.
As well as feeding and hydrating the team you will need to provide them with motivational support. It is important to be encouraging and don’t forget to take a sense of humour! Everyone has a different approach and temperament. Be considerate of your team — at times they may be fragile — and they will definitely feel fatigued. It can depend on how well you know your team as individuals, but occasionally a good support crew needs to be tough. Your team will go through a range of emotional highs and lows during the event based on their level of fatigue, mental state, pain, perceived performance, and general physical condition, so pay attention to your team’s body language for clues.
Nutrition can play a significant role in controlling the lows and a steady supply of calories will help to keep the mood up. Above all, if you are in high spirits, positive and believe in the team’s goal, it will enthuse the whole team.
The entire event will be coordinated by the Event Director and his assistants. Rotary and the Event Director will operate with support from the police, ambulance and fire brigades. Contact must be restricted to reports of serious incidents or requests for emergency support for participants in distress. All other issues should be reported to the checkpoint coordinators. The emergency number is printed on your team member’s race bibs and on the back of the Support Crew Guides.
What’s at the Checkpoints?
The main functions of the checkpoints are to record the progress of the teams; to provide a safe location for participants to rest and meet their support crew; to distribute basic food and water provisions; to provide essential first aid and medical support and as a base for communications and emergency services if required.
Every checkpoint is open to support crews but with some space restrictions. As the event draws closer the teams will be given specific details of what’s provided at the checkpoints.
For now the following provides an overview of what to expect:
Water and hydration: drinking water is available at all sites and hot water at some.
Toilets: toilet facilities are provided at all checkpoints, primarily portaloos.
First Aid: First responder first aid services will be provided at every checkpoint. Qualified paramedics and an ambulance will be available for emergencies.
Food and Drink: the food provisions provided at the checkpoints are basic and are only intended to supplement the provisions supplied by you (as the support crew). Food provisions at the checkpoints are for the participants only.
Drive Slowly at the Checkpoints: take extra care in and around the checkpoints, as there will be a number of vehicles and pedestrians moving about in a limited area. Keep your eyes peeled for children playing and weary participants entering and leaving the checkpoints through the carparks. When driving into and out of the checkpoints do so slowly and follow the parking marshal’s directions (even if this does not appear to make sense to you as they will be directing you as part of the parking plan for that particular site). Checkpoints are usually crowded with other support crews and everyone is eager to help one another. If you have forgotten something, don’t be afraid to ask around. The communal nature of these sites can be very sociable, so you will likely meet many interesting and fun people.
What Not to Bring
Pets and smoking are not permitted on the trail or at checkpoints.
It is likely that any teams that retire and therefore do not complete the event will feel deflated due to the physical discomfort they are experiencing, the disappointment of not finishing or the feeling they are letting their team-mates down. So you will need to give them special support. Sometimes it’s appropriate for support crew members to encourage a team member to retire, especially when it’s in their best interest.
If a member of your team wants to withdraw (retire) from the event, you must ensure they do so from a checkpoint. Remaining team members cannot continue until the withdrawal of the team member has been recorded on our team tracking system and the withdrawn participant is accounted for. If for any reason a member of the team has to leave the event urgently, either from a checkpoint or directly off the trail, they must report this to the checkpoint coordinator or the event director by calling the event emergency number on the race bibs or on the back of the Support Crew Guide.
Simple steps such as using re-useable containers and reducing the amount of waste you generate can have a significant impact. Please work with Rotary and MSWA to reduce the environmental impact of the event.
Don’t Jeopardise Your Team’s Chances
You should make yourself aware of the event rules available on the website. The event rules are in place to ensure an enjoyable and fair event for all. They also ensure the critical relationships with the event’s stakeholders are not compromised, which may ultimately threaten the future of the event.
For support crews the most significant event rule is that teams are strictly forbidden to meet their support crew at any location along the trail except at the designated checkpoints. Any support crew or participant found to be contravening any checkpoint landowner regulation, showing disrespect to local residents or breaking any event rule will lead to the team’s disqualification from the event. Other teams, event staff and volunteers will be asked to report any breaches of the rules.
Don’t Drink and Drive
We discourage drinking alcohol whilst supporting your team predominantly because you’re driving, but also because it may inhibit your effectiveness as support crew (not to mention making the team jealous and/ or annoyed!). All persons involved in the event must adhere to any local rules regarding drinking alcohol in public places.
Remember to Look After Yourselves
As support crew it’s your job to turn on the smiles for your team, even when you may be tired and don’t feel like it. The best way to remain upbeat is to take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep and stagger your driving with other support crew members. Ensure you have enough gear to keep yourself comfortable during the event. Similar to the team you will also require food and fluids to sustain yourself. Make sure you eat and drink regularly as it’s easy to forget when you are focused on others.
Celebrating at the Finish
The finish is an exciting place. Understandably it’s the highlight of the event and you will be there to celebrate that special moment when your team crosses the finish line. No doubt you will save your loudest cheers for them, but don’t forget to celebrate the achievements of other teams as they arrive.
Once they are across the line usher your team to the final check-in desk as we need to account for them and their recorded finish time will be the time they check in — not the time they cross the actual finish line. Once checked-in, a complimentary team photo against a backdrop that celebrates their achievement will be taken, so ensure your team takes advantage of this opportunity. The images will be available in the week after the event.
Once they’ve finished, keep your team warm and hydrated. There will be plenty of hot food and hot and cold drinks provided by the lovely Rapid Relief Team. We will also have our wonderful physiotherapists and podiatrists on hand to provide massage and running repairs. There will be plenty to celebrate at the finish and we hope that all participants, support crews and family and friends will relax and enjoy the entertainment that has been arranged.
You may find that once your team has crossed the line, all they want to do is sit still and do nothing. You can’t blame them — they’ve just cycled, run or walked 75km. The trouble is this can mean they stiffen up and get cold. So after they’ve had a short rest, encourage them to stretch and put on warm clothing. It’s vital that your team members continue to drink fluids (including electrolytes), and that they eat something after their exertions. The last thing some people fancy after the event is food. This is a natural reaction to feeling exhausted but you should encourage everyone on your team to eat something — it’s a vital part of recovery. Participants should not drive themselves home. Equally, support crews should not drive home until sufficiently rested. Please take responsibility for taking everything related to your team with you.
More detailed information will be provided in upcoming newsletters, on the website and at the final event briefing held in the weeks prior to the event. The Rotary Team Challenge staff are here to help, so please get in touch so we can help you support your team and ensure we all enjoy the experience.