Jackson's Planning Template for a Big Race

Blame it on injuries, kids, budget, time or whatever, it's been a while since I participated in a race that really, really meant a lot to me.  

I was so jazzed the first time I ran the Boston Marathon, I couldn't sleep for a full week leading up to it.  At the start in Hopkinton, I was so nervous that I pee'd down my leg.  (Yes, in a big crowd of runners as the announcer counted down!  No, I wasn't the only one, either!) 

I was also very focused and nervous the first time I participated in Ironman Hawaii, the Western States 100-mile run, Ultraman in Hawaii, my first 100K World Championship and the time my buddies and I ran the Sunshine Coast Trail non-stop.  For each of these personal big events, I set the bar far higher than my comfort zone and spent months preparing every detail of how I would approach the challenge.  Without a doubt, my success at each of these challenges was due to my being over-prepared and confident at the start.

When chatting with athletically-inclined pals about new years resolutions over the past few weeks, I have noted that several have BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) similar to mine.  "How did you prepare?", they asked.

I figured the best way to answer that question was to dig up the notes that I used before my big events and share them here.  That way, more people might benefit and other experienced athletes might share their own recipes for success as comments below.

The following is a mish-mash of notes from the Western States 100-mile run and Ultraman.  I chose these two events in particular because both involved crewing.

Pre-Race Considerations 

  • email checklist to team members
  • send media releases
  • confirm race accommodations
  • confirm race escort vehicle
  • get good set of maps for navigator
  • decide on team name, logo, etc. (Team Action Jackson)
  • get team t-shirts & have screened with team name for each member of crew
  • buy pre- and post-race banquet tickets, gifts for team
  • race fees paid and registration portfolio complete
  • find video camera
  • confirm addresses and telephone numbers
  •   - crew
  •   - race administration
  •   - accommodation & transportation
  • send out media kit and updated sports resume
  • exhaust sponsorship opportunities
  • get signs, objects of encouragement for crew
  • labels for drop bags
  • FRS radio for communications with support crew and between vehicles
  • assign and clarify tasks to individual team members



This section highlights the different tasks I will need others to take care of while I am racing.  Note:  One person can do more than 1 task.


  • interface with race officials
  • coordinate team members
  • final say if I have to be pulled from the race


  • assist captain as required


  • provide massage pre- and post-race
  • provide massage during race as required


  • create and distribute press release
  • update athlete profile
  • assist with team logo and t-shirt design
  • interface with sponsors


  • insure that desired food is purchased (self and crew)
  • know location of food items at all time


  • determine time required to get to start
  • wake up crew and athlete on time
  • make sure folks get to bed on time


  • make sure vehicle is roadworthy (air in tires, oil, gas)
  • make sure they are familiar with the roads


  • know the course inside-out
  • assist driver with driving
  • know locations for gas, ice, maintenance
  • know distances "to go" for athlete


  • capture spirit of event for team members and media
  • work with media relations to insure media gets good photos and or video


  • know how to take care of aches, pains and minor accidents
  • know locations & numbers of hospitals
  • at all times, know where medical kit is, what's in it and how to use most of it

11) PACER(S)

  • hand food & drink to athlete during event
  • ask athlete what is desired at next aid station, how far down road it should be
  • know relative position of other athletes (ahead & behind)
  • experiment with hand-offs, feed bag idea
  • make sure run on correct path (check every intersection)


Food & Drink

This is the complete grocery list for me and my crew for the duration of the race.

  • fruits (oranges, kiwis, prunes, dried apricots...)
  • sandwiches (peanut butter & jam, tuna, turkey...)
  • ice cubes
  • miniature chocolate bars
  • cookies (oreos, fig newtons, ginger snaps,...)
  • carbohydrate drink (Exceed, Gatorade) - 2 X 4-liter milk jugs
  • water - 3 X 4-liter milk jugs
  • coke - 2 X 2-liter bottles
  • hot coffee in thermos
  • power bars (10)
  • gum (3 packs)
  • muffins (12)
  • sugar candies (20)
  • crew food (ask for favorite stuff so there is lots of it)

Packaging & Miscellaneous

This is the complete list of non-edible stuff my crew and I will need for the duration of the race.

  • 100 liter insulated water containers (2)
  • insulated coolers (2)
  • water bottles (10+)
  • small plastic cups for water (20)
  • towels (2) for face wipes
  • toilet paper (2 rolls)
  • paper towels (1 roll)
  • plastic garbage bags (trash, dirty clothes)
  • utensils (knife, fork, spoon)
  • ice pack
  • small, tall cardboard boxes
  • small (500g) yoghurt containers (4)
  • ziplock bags (20)


This is the complete list of all the clothing and related gear I anticipate needing for the duration of the race.  Note:  Be sure to consider extreme cold, extreme heat and all of the weather inbetween!

  • hat/ visor / headband
  • sun glasses
  • shorts (2 pair)
  • tights / gardening gloves
  • sox (3 pair)
  • shoes (2 pair)
  • singlet (2 sponsors)
  • safety pins for race number
  • number belt for race number
  • sunblock
  • Vaseline
  • heart rate monitor
  • watch
  • hats / t-shirts for crew

Banquet & Post Race

Finish or not, this is what I should think about immediatly after the event.

  • team & sponsor photos
  • massage
  • agree on time to meet at banquet
  • camera
  • address book
  • prepare speech
  • give crew souvenirs
  • follow-up with sponsors, news media
  • discuss event with crew, write down problems and good ideas for next time
  • follow-up with crew

Helpful hints

  • cold, wet washcloths
  • Vaseline in run sox
  • keep spare running shoes and sox on ice
  • ask what is wanted at NEXT aid stop
  • offer me choice of 2 - 3 items

Crew Vehicle

  • lots of windows
  • seats for everyone
  • be able to get at food easily from rear (door opens up so cover from rain)
  • bring blankets or sleeping bags
  • one only with all important people and supplies, others take car

Medical Kit

This is all of the stuff I might need before, during and after the event.  Idealy, it should all fit in the medical kit.  (Large plastic tool box.)

Body Rips and Tears

  • rubbing alcohol
  • aspirin & Advil
  • alcohol pads
  • antacids (rolaids)
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • alka seltzer
  • tensor bandaid
  • Tylenol 3 (heavy pain)
  • St. John's First Aid Kit
  • sterile gauze roll
  • white surgical tape
  • Braunovidon (disinfectant)
  • knee braces (2)

Foot Repair

  • sterile needle
  • massage oil
  • donut band aids
  • analgesic cream
  • New skin  
  • icy hot cream
  • toenail clippers
  • Tiger balm
  • emery file  
  • heating pad
  • athlete's foot cream
  • witch hazel

Sun & Bug protection

  • 15 SPF suncream
  • body moisture lotion
  • Muskol spray
  • chap lip stick


  • safety pins (12)
  • Q-tips
  • emergency blanket
  • Vaseline film containers (2)
  • baby powder
  • compass
  • shoe horn
  • glasses strap
  • corkscrew
  • butane lighter
  • flashlight
  • small screwdriver
  • shoe laces (2)
  • Swiss army knife
  • Kleenex 
  • shampoo
  • pens (2)
  • quarters (4)
  • Cruex powder/cream

Aid Station

This is everything I will need for myself and my crew at each aid station.

  • folding lawn chairs
  • sleeping bags
  • shoes (2) - use barrel lock, not stretchy laces on XC
  • sox (4) - cover in Vaseline
  • tights (2)
  • shorts (2)
  • t-shirts (4)
  • bandanas (2)
  • sunglasses (2)
  • Patagonia polypro shirt
  • shelter for crew (tent, plastic sheeting)
  • dry clothes for crew
  • waterproof ground sheet

Fanny/Hydration Pack

This is a complete list of everything I will carry with me during the event.

  • sunblock
  • power bars (2)
  • gum
  • K-way/tyvex jacket and wool hat (for rain & cold)
  • FRS radio/cell phone
  • spare t-shirt
  • flashlight
  • water bottles (2)
  • electrolyte powder (2 film containers full)
  • aspirins / vitimin I
  • whistle


What are you going to do with

What are you going to do with a sterile needle, if you don't mind me asking?

I had no idea you needed to have so much STUFF with you in order to run, no wonder all the runners I know are so lean.  Their pack must weigh a ton!  And I thought that the kit I had to put together to help with my sister was big!

Best of luck to you!

AND #@$&^?!  RIGHT OFF SPAM FILTER!  What about this post is SPAM?

Ean Jackson's picture

Needle and SPAM

Needle is good to have if you need to lance blisters.  A bit of thread is good to have, too, if you need to sew up a bad gash. 

True, this is a *lot* of stuff!  Always a challenge to know what to pack for a run.  If you're going for a jog on the sidewalks in town or running on well-traveled trails in a park, you might be able to get away with taking nothing.  This whopping shopping list of gear is more intended for those runners who go on very long runs on very remote trails or where there are no trails at all... the kind of scenarios where you might end up having to sleep overnight in the boonies and fix your own boo-boos.

Not sure what's up with spam filter?  Best to check here or send a note with details, as if you're having a problem, other are likely having it, too. 

Jason Eads's picture

Now THAT'S one hell of a list!

Very thorough indeed, Jackson! Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge on the subject. This will be immensely helpful in planning & prep for the Vancouver 100k & STORMY 100m! Just so happens that you are now “Chief Jackson”, which is to say Crew Chief for my team! Team name is TBD, although Spirit of St. Louis is a fantastic suggestion & still under consideration. If you or others out here have ideas on team names I’d love to hear them.

Ean Jackson's picture


Yo Jason,

Still gotta have a name for your team at STORMY even if you're a team of one and your crew is my crew!

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