I’ve never been a boy scout. But I like their motto.
I guess you could call me a gear junky. In preparing for my first ultra, I have read lots of ultra-runner blogs trying to figure out just what I will need with me for every eventuality. I have researched fuel, hydration, clothing, shoes, etc… Then, I tested them out to see what works for me. In the event you are a gear junky too, here’s a look at what will be in my bag. Let me know if I have forgotten anything. 🙂
With highs in the 90’s for the last two months here in Tennessee, I have had lots of opportunity to experiment with hydration. Hammer Heed will be provided on the course. I like it. Not too sweet. Digests easily. However, a few aid stations will provide only water so I am taking NUUN tablets to drop into it. They will provide a nice change and are easy to carry. Again, not too sweet, and slightly effervescent. Runners are required to carry a hydration system. I will use the same handheld bottle I used in the Pikes Peak Ascent (2 years ago this weekend:)). It has served me well in training runs this summer. I will be very conscientious about hydration, even though temps will be cooler, because the air will be so dry.
Fueling begins days ahead, of course, but I will only address race day. I will enjoy my favorite breakfast: Kashi GoLean cereal with walnuts, fruit, and soy milk. And coffee. Aid stations will again provide an assortment of snacks. But, I will be packing Clif bars, raw, unsalted almonds, and Snyder’s Buffalo Hot pretzel pieces (salty and hard-very satisfying).
I will be alternating two pairs of shoes. My Newtons are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. I can run for hours with no discomfort. And, did I mention that they’re pink? 🙂 However, on a highly technical trail, they are less than ideal, particularly if I am doing quite a bit of walking. So I will use them on the middle stretches where the incline is more gradual and the trails are a bit more accommodating. For the steeper, more treacherous sections I will be wearing the new Saucony Peregrine. I love the way it grips the trail. Very responsive. I’ve logged many trail miles in both.
This area is a little dicey since we are going out several days early, and since weather in the mountains can change at the drop of a hat. Temps at start and finish will probably be in the 30’s, while it could climb to the 70’s in the heat of the day. (Both will be a relief from the sweltering temps at home.) In general, I will pack both shorts and pants. One change of my under layer as a treat when it gets wet. Gloves, headband, and hat to keep extremities warm during the predawn and post sunset hours. Rain jacket/windbreaker with hood. Just in case. A lightweight long-sleeved layer that can be tied around the waist. And a fleece. Smartwool socks. Also, compression socks, primarily for after. But, I might slip them on for the last few miles if my ankles are unduly fatigued.
Flashlight for pre-dawn start and probable post-sunset finish. Not a big fan of headlamps. Used flashlight in Ragnar last year, as well as several nighttime training runs. SPIbelt to carry snacks, nuun tablets, and my phone. iPhone to take pics, store poems and prayers (more on this later), and possibly tweet from the trail, depending on service…and maybe order pizza. 🙂
The course is arranged in a cloverleaf pattern meaning that we will return to the start/finish aid station 3 times during the race. So I can stock up my gear drop bag with the essentials and just take what I need for each out and back. I will probably stick in a light-weight back pack just in case, but I hope to be able to fit anything I need to carry in my SPIbelt.
What am I missing? Come on, my crazy endurance pals. Help a sistah out!
*P.S. I am refining my playlist. I test drove it today, but it needs tweaking. I also am assembling poems, scriptures, and prayers to take with me. Unconventional, to be sure, but important to me. I will post on this next Saturday.
*P.S.S. Grizzly, Mountain Lion, and Moose sightings are a distinct possibility. As well as rattlesnakes. I welcome any tips on dealing with aforementioned wildlife. Thank you. 🙂