By Vanessa Runs
Racing in a team of two on a multi-day race is a unique experience that you don’t come across every day. Even for the most social runners, chances are that many of your races or training runs have been tackled solo. Running with a teammate adds another dimension to the race experience, especially when it’s someone you will be next to for six days.
The GORE-TEX Transrockies Race offers a 6-day option for partners who want to experience an epic trail run together. But finding the perfect partner for you can be tricky. The wrong choice can ruin a great day on the trails, while a great choice will reward you with the experience of a lifetime. You’ll want to choose your partner wisely.
Here are some factors to consider:
1. Athletic Level
Pick a partner who is at a similar athletic level, or at least shares the same goals you do. For example, if you want to run competitively and try to place, don’t partner with someone who just wants to have fun and chat with everyone on the trail.
Mismatched couples fall apart, break up, or bicker because of different goals or skill levels. Be clear with your partner as far as what you want your experience to be and how hard you’re willing to push. If you change your mind about your goals in the middle of the event, make sure you let them know.
2. Egos Aside
Keep in mind that there’s a bigger picture than just this race. Your partner is more important than the event. Transrockies is just six days, but this may be a person you have a relationship with for much longer.
It’s not worth abandoning or ostracizing your friend because of a one-time event. Put your ego away and focus on doing your best as a team. It is the both of you against the trail, not you against your partner.
3. But for the Grace of God…
There’s a saying that goes, “There, but for the grace of God, go I…” Basically, it means that it could just as well happen to you.
- Is your partner experiencing altitude sickness while you feel great? It could just as well be you.
- Is your partner slowing you down while you feel faster? It could just as well be you.
- Is your partner plagued by painful blisters while you feel amazing? It could just as well be you.
The mountains are unpredictable, and there’s no way to know how weather, fatigue, gear, or food will affect one person compared to other. Be patient and have some compassion if your partner is struggling.
The beauty of the multi-day race is that tomorrow may be the day that YOU struggle. And you’ll want your partner’s patience and understanding when you’re feeling low.
Don’t assume that you feel better because you are a better runner, or because you trained better. With elements like altitude and mountain running, it’s usually a toss up as to who comes out unscathed. If you’re feeling awesome, be thankful. But don’t leave your partner behind.
4. Personal Relationships
Running with a loved one such as a spouse or family member or boyfriend/girlfriend can work tremendously well, or it can backfire and make for a sour experience. Make sure you know your partner well and feel fairly sure your relationship can survive a little discomfort and drama.
If possible, share several training runs with your partner before the event. Make sure you get to know each other’s quirks, understand how your partner reacts under hunger or stress, and make sure you are a compatible match. A good personality match is just as important (and even more so) as matching athletic skills. And communication is vital. Let your partner know what works for you.
Although I got along great with my partner at Transrockies, I did observe other partner styles that would have driven me nuts the entire week. There were some really motivational couples that kept yelling encouragements to each other (I prefer silence or conversation), or partners where one person towed the other with a bungee cord (I have no interest in pulling or being pulled).
Here are some questions to consider:
- What motivates you when you’re down?
- Do you prefer silence or conversation?
- Do you want to run fast or take your time?
- Do you want to socialize or focus on the course?
- Do you want to pause for photos and video or run through?
- Do you want to be towed?
- Do you want to tow?
- What are your expected finish times?
- Do you have experience running with your partner?
- Do you know how to motivate your partner without annoying them?
Most of all….
Can you stay positive and work as a team?
Positivity and a healthy outlook will go far. Keep a good perspective on what is really important: you and your partner’s physical and mental health. Remind each other to have fun, enjoy the journey, and value this race for the unique experience that it is.
Finishing hand-in-hand with your partner is unbelievably rewarding. Do everything you can to finish together.