As many of you know, this September (three weeks yesterday) I will be heading out to the States to have a bit of an adventure.
Well to join a bit of an adventure – for the pedants.
For those of you that followed my Scandinavian trip last year, this is kind of a similar thing, but instead of making myself run ridiculous distances every day, I’m going to be helping someone else to do so.
That someone else is in fact Mimi Anderson, an incredible lady who has achieved a plethora of running titles and records since she started running just 15 years ago. Now, at the age of 53, Mimi plans to run across the USA (2850 miles LA to NY) in just 53 days.
That’s 53 miles, a day for 53 days straight.
If (when) Mimi completes this task, she will have broken the previous record (69 days 2 hrs 40 minutes set in 1979 by Mavis Hutchinson 1979) by a whopping 16 days.
In order to keep moving as efficiently as possible, Mimi has arranged for a small team of people to follow her on her run – from her Husband, good friends, other ultra marathon pros, to me. Good ol’ me who has never even attempted a multi-stage race. Or supported one in fact.
I know, I’m pretty nervous too.
Our duties each day are fairly simple, but key to making sure that all goes well for Mimi. In total there will be six of us supporting at any time, wiith three support vehicles, two cars and an RV. A race crew briefing created by Mimi and her head of crew, Jenny, has given the team a rough guide as to what a typical day will include:
- Wake Mimi at 4.30am. Clothes, snacks, shoes, watches etc to be laid out the night before. Thermos flasks of water prepared the night before so quick breakfast preparation.
- Prepare breakfast for Mimi.
- Mimi starts running at 5.00 am. Support Vehicle crew available on the radio and mobile at all times should Mimi require assistance.
- RV meets Mimi and a second breakfast has been prepared and is waiting. Cook Crew to also prepare breakfast for the rest of the crew. Upload Mimi’s GPS data to Strava and Suunto.
- Mimi leaves to start her second section of the day with new fully charged watches. Support Vehicle Crew following Mimi to provide water, snacks etc. RV Crew attend to daily duties in nearest town (if we’re near one, pre-planning food shops etc to sustain us when we know no town coming up!) and then return to meet Mimi.
- Where Mimi stops at the end of the day is where the RV will set up camp for the night. Upload Mimi’s GPS data to Strava and Suunto.
- Cook Crew prepares dinner for Mimi and the crew. Mimi receives a sports massage, any niggles seen to etc and then bed. Silence in the RV when Mimi goes to bed as she needs a minimum of 6hrs of restful sleep per night.
- Crew will be sleeping in the RV and in one tent. Tent will be pitched away from the RV so we’re able to chat/make a little noise whilst Mimi sleeps!
In addition to the above we also need to collect data for guinness – from video diaries and interviews with witnesses on route, to daily logs and photographs – to provide evidence for the world record success.
As I mentioned, Mimi will be running from LA to New York. West coast to east coat, via 12 different states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York). Our progress (or really Mimi’s progress) can be followed on her tracking page here.
As a bit of a last minute addition to the team (I know, I always seem to take this role) I won’t be with Mimi when she starts her run on the 7th September (6am GMT-8). I will be flying out with Mimi’s husband on the 21st September to join the team in a small town in Southern Colorado. From here I will be following Mimi, doing my darndest to be the best crew member EVER until we reach New York 38 days later.
The question that remains then is – why am I telling you all this?
Well, although I am a little bit nervous and even daunted by the task of gong out there, I realise that I am incredibly lucky to have been offered this opportunity.
I’m hoping that once all the duties are out of the way each day, I can settle down and write a little about what’s going on. A bit of an insight into Mimi being even more of a super woman than normal, an insight into the ins and outs of support crew life, and an insight into the real America. Not the glitzed up places Brits like to head to for a summer holiday, but the towns and villages (do Americans even have villages…?) that we pass through each day and the people we meet on the way.
Think a travel guide to all the places you will never visit, executed in a way which you will (probably) never experience.
Useless, perhaps, but hopefully entertaining.