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Every boat must have a Ground Crew. Your Ground Crew may be an In-Person Ground Crew (highly recommended) or a Virtual Ground Crew. In-Person Ground Crews can make a big difference between someone finishing the race or not.
In-Person Ground Crew
An In-Person Ground Crew is highly recommended. Your Ground Crew will be following you by road ramp to ramp and meeting all of your race needs. They can watch your progress on the RaceOwl and know with close accuracy when you will likely be at your next planned stop. If you are exceptionally late to a meeting them, they would know to contact you, and worst-case scenario, alert Safety Dispatch so we can locate you on water.
Your Ground Crew needs to expect to get dirty and their feet wet as they receive you at boat ramps along the course. Their activity will include making contact with your boat at the water’s edge and also helping haul your boat up (and sometimes off) ramps to avoid ramp congestion. We will have volunteers at Checkpoints and Paddlestops, but they are there to only supplement in this help and have a primary focus on racers who need emergency assistance, directing racers and crews as to where to place boats in order to keep the ramp as clear as possible for recreational boaters and potential emergency vehicles, and providing area info for you or your waiting Ground Crew. Having a couple people serve as your Ground Crew can make stops easier for you as a racer and also allow for an easier support system within your crew itself.
Ground crews tend to have fun and enjoy the experience. It's an adventure for them too! Sleep deprivation, boy scout hot dogs, pit toilets, they get the whole experience. If you don't have an In-Person Ground Crew yet, work on getting one!
Virtual Ground Crew
Virtual Ground Crews mean they aren't physically there to meet you, but still tracking you remotely through RaceOwl and are in touch with you just as often. This is very important because they would alert us if you were late to a planned arrival. We wouldn't know anything was amiss until the Checkpoint closed. But your Virtual Ground Crew would know because they would be paying attention to your progress. You would be texting or calling them routinely saying things like "We plan to be at Hermann by midnight, will text you then" and if they didn't hear from you soon after midnight, they would know to contact you, and if they couldn’t reach you, they would alert Safety Dispatch to say you are missing on the water.
If you opt for a Virtual Ground Crew, you need to consider the extra supplies that would have normally been transported in an In-Person Ground Crew’s vehicle and waiting for you at a ramp (think night-time clothing layers, any additional first aid, medications, extra toilet paper just in case, another hat because the river ate yours, etc.). Also, you need to sort out the food and water options ahead of the race so you can develop your own refueling plan. Of course if you have issues during the race, please do reach out to any of our safety boats which will be on the water and at various ramps throughout.
Get your Ground Crew recruited and get them trained up on the race course, RaceOwl, have them watch the Safety Meeting Video once the new video for this year is published, the whole thing. It will pay off!
For those of you new to the race, we want to offer something additional to think about regarding what your In-Person Ground Crews can be part of in your MR340.
Sure, Ground Crews can wait around for you at Checkpoints, shove hot dogs into your mouth, and watch you slowly turning into a half-human river creature. That’s fun. But consider having them be your strategic on-land race teammates. They’ll have a blast and you’ll love them even more for it.
As mentioned, Ground Crews can track your speed on RaceOwl in order to know when you are looking to slide in to the next ramp and have things ready for you in advance, meet you at less used/less congested ramps, closely monitor your food and liquids and electrolytes between stops, give you that pep talk and shoulder massage, have a make-shift lounging spot set up in an air-conditioned vehicle or under the stars… The list and details can go on and on.
Ground Crews can monitor the weather and inform you of a possible storm popping up near you, acting as that second set of eyes on a radar app. They can be that buddy system you rely on when things get rough, and they are often the first people who recognize when something isn't quite right. They can advise you to eat more and drink more. And they can run to the nearest gas station to get you that bag of pretzels that all of a sudden you really want at your next stop.
All of your partnered strategies with your Ground Crew turn in to you all getting to St. Charles that much safer and faster. Schlafly’s Bankside is 440 paces from the water at the Finish Line ramp. Less if you cut through the grass.
Ground Crews, check out the following race resources: