View Full Version : Fluid Placement at Aid Stations
01-02-2009, 07:59 AM
Happr New Year!
When setting up aid stations where you have a sports drink and water which is your method of placement and what feed back if any from your runners.
1. Leading tables have sports drink followed by water
2. Alternate the tables sports drink-water-sports drink-water, etc.
This could make a difference in cases where you have a large race and congestion at the stops. This leads to a follow on question if you opt for #2 are there signs to signal the difference or is just a taste or visual test. If it's not clear it must be a sports drink.
01-02-2009, 10:14 AM
George, happy new year to you as well.
This depends in part on the sports drink sponsor - some of them have very specific guidance on where to place their sports drink, how to set up cups, banners & waste collection devices (some of them actually supply their own cardboard trash boxes with logos).
That being said, for smaller races having the sports drink at the leading tables followed by water is fine. For larger races, it works better to have a two-tiered station in which the sports drink is by itself and the water is either far down (~100 meters) from the sports drink or on the opposite side of the road and just a little distance (~10 meters) down from the sports drink. Also, there needs to be a lot of signage and volunteers with bullhorns letting runners know which fluid is available and where.
01-02-2009, 12:26 PM
As a runner, I prefer to have the water first than the sports drink.
My biggest complaint is when the same cups are used for both water and Gatorade. A lot of times races will be using the Gatorade cups for both water and Gatorade, which creates some confusion when you're trying to run by the aid station.
So make sure that water is in a generic cup and the sports drink is in a specific cup.
01-03-2009, 06:52 PM
The advice to keep the cups color coded is good. Often the sports drink vendor will provide cups for their drink, in their distinctive colors.
Personally I prefer the sports drink first for the following reasons:
Gatoraid signs can be before the stop, on the approach where they will be seen
If runner takes gatoraid by mistake they can rince with water as plan B
For me I often take two cups, first of mix and then one of water to dilute
If mix is too strong, (frequently happens) you can then pickup a water
Some runners are distraught if they cant get just water, so last table as water is last chance for them to get it right
Runners doing gue at the stop get to wash it down with water when exiting stop
On HOT days I often use the one cup in me, one cup on me system. I want the mix in me and not on me, so please, mix first.
I also think that water stops should be ONLY on one side of the road OR MIRRORED EXACTLY on both sides of the road. If stop is only one one side, runners skipping stop stay on other side and don't get tangled up. If stop is on both sides due to large race volume, then it should be mirrored exactly gatoraid each side then water each side. This prevents runners from zig-zagging from one side to the other to figure out what is on each side.
It is simpler to manage a water stop if all the mix is one end and all the water the other. You can have one mix master who controls all the mix batches at the mix end of the stop. This leads to better batch consistency.
It is also a LOT simpler for the runners to figure out if one comes first, followed by the second. Not such a problem for the fast early runners when the stop is fresh and not swamped, but by the time the heard arrives people are swamped, the music may be drowning any shouted directions, the wall of runners in front blocks your view. You may not want one of the options, but you don't want to battle past all the tables to figure it out. If all you want is water you should be able to skip the first tables and then dive in on the second batch. Mixing alternate tables leads to a complete lack of clarity and total confusion in the running stream.
PUT ALL THE PRODUCT AT ONE END, PUT THE WATER AT THE OTHER END, and put them in different colored cups, with the color coding consistent from one stop to the next. It's really simple.
If the volume is such that you need lots of tables, then MIRROR the stop on the other side of the street. This provides parallel processing keeps the runner stream from tying it's self in knots.
Try to sight water stops so that runners get to see them well in advance, not just around a corner. This allows them to see what the crowed ahead is doing, and to prepare. For example they may need time to reach back, get out the gue, consuming the gue while on the run, throw gue pack into bin, all prior to the stop.
Do not rely on people with bull horns or other shouting to clarify your mess. Their may be music or noise at the stop that could defeat your plans, and the sound of the blood pounding in the runners skulls drowns out any logic you may try to inject. Just to make sure your shouted instructions fail, some runner wear magic apple instruction deflectors.
While verbal instructions may work pre-start, my suggestion is to NEVER rely on sound to explain anything to runners after the gun goes, not on the course and not in the finish chute. (Lots of experience in that one, I will be managing another large marathon finish chute this month)
P.S. There is nothing wrong with a high and clear sign saying
"Water stop - 500 feet, w/ 6 port-o-potties"
I generally prefer sports drink first, then water, for all the reasons above.
Here's a tip for placement of the entire station setup:
Many races locate their aid stations at mile points. It's easy to tell the runners "There are aid stations at 3, 5, 7 etc. miles" and you can tell your volunteers "go to the aid station at the 5 mile point." Also, if you have split clocks, you can set them up and they will be in an area w/ lots of race volunteers (although they will be busy w/ their fluid duties, and my not have time to keep an eye on the clock. Also, the clock may get overlooked, or worse, knocked over, in the commotion typical of aid stations).
But one thing you definitely DON'T want to do (and a major national championship near here always did) was to locate the stations BEFORE the mile point.
The problem is, besides possibly missing the split in the commotion, is that many runners instinctively look at their wrist and perhaps even punch the split button on their watches at a mile point. This can be nasty if they try to do so w/ that hand holding a cup of sports drink, which the runner will then be wearing. :eek:
01-06-2009, 04:10 PM
That brings up another point in race planning. Try NOT to have water stops just prior to a corner.
There will be a debris field of wet cups and trampled gue packs extending for some distance after the water stop. This is not a good place for a corner becuase the road after a water stop is a mess, and corners require firm footing. Since you can't move the corner, move the water stop a good distance before it, or located it after the corner.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.1.10 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.