On September 1st, 2019, Danielle Snyder crossed the Bridge of Gods from Oregon into Washington after spending 9 days, 15 hours and 8 minutes trekking the 460 miles of the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail. She was the first female to attempt this supported Fastest Known Time (FKT). Her humble Instagram post after capturing the crown reads:
"I am nothing special. I am just another athlete who joined a friend in an adventure of a lifetime. The difference between me and you? Nothing except I said yes to try...I feel even more strongly in my desire to help others achieve the impossible. Because if I can do it, why can't you?"
Less than a year later, Emily Halnon tackled the same section of the Oregon PCT and takes the supported FKT, with Danielle at the finish line, cheering her on the entire way.
It shouldn't come as a shock to anyone in the trail running community that FKT record holders often help and support another runner trying to upset the FKT. It's just another example of the 'community over competition' spirit that rules the sport. So, when Halnon reached out to Snyder to talk about the attempting the FKT, Danielle says she practically volunteered herself to help pace Emily through part of the trail.
Compared to running 460 miles, crewing someone running the same route sounds like a piece of cake, right?
There is a fine art to crewing and pacing. It's a tough job, and if you ask any ultra runner, a good crew is one of the keys to a great race.
Danielle says she has a nickname as a crew member: Trail Boss. She is unapologetic about reminding her runner to eat every 30 minutes, no matter how grumpy they are about it. In addition to nutrition manager, a crew member also plays the role of therapist, motivator, human GPS, pacer, singer, joker, pack mule...the list goes on!
Snyder says it's easy for a crew member to forget to take care of their own needs. Eating, sleeping, making sure they're OK is critical to make sure they're able to help their runner out. A crew member has to be 100% there for the runner. There are long days and high emotions, but that doesn't compare to what your runner is going through!
So, is it all worth it? Is it worth it to sacrifice for someone else's success?
Of course! As Danielle says, "It's awesome to support someone else and see them achieve their goals. I don't have words to truly articulate the experience with Emily."