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How we came about…

The idea for Crew My Run was born last year as I was planning out my first long point to point run (The Trans-Zion Trek-48 miles.)  I was dying to do this amazing route, but as I worked through the logistics of it all I could see that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off without seriously inconveniencing other people, lugging a heavy pack the whole way, or spending a lot of extra time driving the day before to stash my aid and the day after to go back and clean up after myself.  Some of the things that I had to work out were:

Should I have my wife crew me?  It’s inconvenient enough for her when I come home late from my normal long runs (which seems to happen about 90% of the time, no matter how hard I try.)  How much worse would it be if she had to sit and wait for me in the sweltering heat at each of the 3 access points in addition to the end of the route?   And we’d definitely need to get a babysitter.  Kind of hard to find one that will come to your house at 5am when we’d be leaving.

How about trying it self-supported?  This seemed like a good idea at first since there were 3 good access points along this route.  I could stash some food, water, and gear at Hop Valley trailhead, Lava Falls trailhead, and at the bottom of the West Rim trail in the main canyon, each between 10 and 13.5 miles apart.  My excitement soon faded as I added up the amount of driving required to go each of these access points the day before.  And the electrolyte drink and sandwich would be nasty hot after being outside all day.  What if the squirrels or mice got into it or a hiker came across it?  Or what if a park official was at the trailhead?  I was pretty sure that ditching stuff until the next day would still be considered littering.   And I doubted that I’d be in the mood the day after the run to spend a couple of hours going back to pick up my aid stashes.  Plus I’d still have to make some kind of arrangements to get picked up at the end of the trail since the free shuttle does not access either of  the trailheads where the route begins and ends.  The existing privately owned shuttle services that accessed Lee’s Pass and East Rim trailheads would get me there too late in the morning and didn’t pick up late enough in the day so I’d have to charter a ride from the end of the route back to Springdale (with me taking my best guess at the time that I’d be getting done and hoping the driver would wait around if they beat me there.)  Then another chartered ride from Springdale to go pick up my car at Lee’s Pass on the other side of the park.  I was quoted $140 to combine the two rides and be shuttled from East Rim back to Lee’s Pass at the end of the day.  There had to be a better way…

What if I could find someone else to do it with me?  We could wake up extra early to shuttle one car to the East Rim trailhead (an hour and ten minutes drive from St. George.)  Or we could leave a car there the night before (Was that even OK, since overnight parking was only supposed to be used by backcountry hikers with overnight permits?)  The driving time from the East Rim trailhead to Lee’s Pass trailhead looked like it would take about an hour and a half, so it seemed like driving all the way to one trailhead and shuttling to the other early in the morning so that we could have a car there when we finished was a lot of driving before what was already going to be a very long day.

It looked like the best option for the situation was going to be “unsupported”.  (Or in other words, carrying everything with me that I might need during the entire run.)  Then all I’d need to worry about would be finding someone to pick me up at the end and take me back over to get my car when I finished.

I ended up doing it unsupported and did a lot more hiking than I would have liked to, due to the weight of my full Camelback.  The views were absolutely beyond words.  I’ve run several sections of the trail since without the weight of a pack and would love the freedom of running the trail in its entirety that way, but for that to happen I’m just going to have to spend the day before and after driving around and setting it all up or wait until I can find someone willing to be my support crew (that would make a great birthday or Christmas present, babe!)

After considering all that one has to go through to do a run like this (even though it’s totally worth it, because the run is so amazing) I thought “there has to be a better way”.  There are enough people out there organizing these long runs already (I ran into two groups running the Trans-Zion this last summer) and I would think that there’s a lot more out there that would like to run them, but putting it all together from long distance is tough.

So I started thinking about crewing peoples’ runs as a business.  By grouping people together that were interested in doing some of the epic runs out there, we could offer a needed service for a reasonable price and save the client all kinds of hassle.

As a race director (the Zion 100) I’ve worked with the county, the BLM, Zion National Park, Utah State Trust Lands, 4 different cities, private land owners, and Utah Department of Transportation to get permits-  I am familiar with just how limited races are on which trails can be incorporated in an organized event.  But this wouldn’t be a race between participants, just a shuttle service enabling people to run their favorite trails (groups of 10 or less due to group size limitations in protected lands).  Current shuttle services to these areas can’t accommodate our extremely early departures and late pickups without chartering a vehicle.

After working out all of the logistics for the Trans-Zion (something that I enjoy doing as an event organizer), I started thinking about how awesome it would be to offer the same service to Bryce and the Grand Canyon, since they’re both so close and I know their trails well.  After hammering through the details on those runs, I started thinking about all of the other epic runs out there that I’d always wanted to do.

Are there enough people out there to support this idea?  I think so.  Look at the number of people running ultras and the price that they’re willing to pay and distances willing to travel to participate in these events.  And while getting together for an organized event is something we all enjoy every once in a while, who wouldn’t rather be running on the most scenic trails with smaller group sizes?

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