Interview with Tim Rainey (Crewman for Team Sichel)

Crew – an unusual punishment?

Or a fun way to spend a week?

Tim Rainey at "Camp Sichel" beside Lake Balaton, Hungary

Tim Rainey at "Camp Sichel" beside Lake Balaton, Hungary




An Interview with Tim Rainey

Crewman for William in the UNIX 6-day Race


Tim Rainey

Tim Rainey

  • Question : What does crewing for an ultra-runner actually involve?

Tim’s Answer : It depends on the duration of the race.  We look after the runner’s food and drink.  Keep him cool with sponges and ice-water, keep him informed about things like position in the race, distance covered, pace and so on.  Put him to bed, wake him up.

  • Question : Does crewing for a top runner involve much travel? What races / events have you crewed before?

Tim’s Answer : With William I’ve gone to California for the Badwater race, Greece for Spartathlon and the 1000 mile race, 6 days in Hamm in Germany and Monaco.

  • Question : In a 6-day race, how much sleep would you expect to get?

Tim’s Answer : With 2 of us, one will sleep during one of the runner’s work periods as well as during a rest period, so maybe 5 hours in 2 days.

  • Question : Is it easy to keep yourself (and the runner!) motivated over such a long period?

Tim’s Answer : I’ve not had any problems there!

  • Question : How to you keep yourself focused and remember what to do, even when tired?

Tim’s Answer : We use checklists for different activities, before and after breaks, feeding and drinking routines for daytime and night time and everything is recorded and we refer to our notes to check the time for say the next break. The checklists are really important, especially when the crew and the runner are tired. Without a checklist it would be very easy to forget something that could be vital.

  • Question : Do you have to do any running yourself when you are crewing?

Tim’s Answer : Erm, yes.  Quite a bit as it turns out.  At the 1000 mile race I figured I was running the equivalent of 100 miles a week accompanying the runner along the portion of the circuit where we’re allowed to with drinks and sponges and then running back to our table.

  • Question : Obviously the weather conditions can effect the runners during the race, is the weather an issue for the crew?

Tim’s Answer : Wind makes it difficult to keep everything tidy on the table.  Rain isn’t so much of a problem.

  • Question : What is the hardest part of crewing during a multi-day race?

Tim’s Answer : Going to bed knowing you’re getting up in 3 hours.

  • Question : What is the best part of crewing?

Tim’s Answer : The satisfaction of being a part of a big performance.

  • Question : How did you get involved in crewing?

Tim’s Answer : I’ve known William for quite a few years and he asked me to join him at Badwater to drive, and that was so much fun.

  • Question : Has crewing taught you anything useful that you can use in your own running/racing or that you think would help other runners?

Tim’s Answer : Paying attention to the details of drinks and food and in having a backup plan or two.

  • Question : Is crewing during a multi-day race only for fanatics? Would you recommend trying crewing to others?

Tim’s Answer : Am I a fanatic?  I’d definitely recommend it, partly because the more people there are on a team the more rest we’d get!!!

And finally the big question *:

  • Question : Why do you do it? Is it because of the big financial rewards?

Tim’s Answer : Absolutely.

* This is of course a joke – the crew don’t get paid! All expenses are covered either by William or by the ever generous crew themselves (even if this means checking down the sides of the sofa for small change…).

Tim Rainey - Still 130 hrs of crewing to go...

Tim Rainey - Still 130 hrs of crewing to go...