The compulsory kit lists which accompany most ultras can be an insurance-led-ball-ache for race directors and runners.
The race director feels bad asking runners to purchase gear they probably won’t need and as runners we scuttle around last minute to find the equipment needed to meet the requirements (particularly if you live in the Middle East where it isn’t that easy to find a decent pair of road running shoes let alone specialist gear).
However, compulsory kit lists are also a great way to determine how hardcore the race really is. For example, a list showing GPS navigation tool, map and compass sort of indicates you’re going to be finding your own way across country, while headtorch and mountain grade, taped-seam waterproofs gives you a fair idea that you could be out in poor weather, possibly at altitude, at night.
But as regular readers of this blog will know I like to plan ahead. This means there are certain ultra race essentials I always carry on every long run, racing or training.
1. Taxi money
Okay, so this one really belongs to my better half – who has a reputation for catching a ride – but having some cash to see you home when your personal wheels fall off (and it does happen)…or at least a few coins to purchase a can of fix-everything cola makes sense.
Salomon kindly include a folded foil and whistle in all their back packs to help tired runners in an emergency, but while training in a desert city loose cash will get you sorted faster.
2. A sandwich bag
It’s hot, I sweat a lot! A sandwich bag keeps my taxi money, ID and phone dry.
3. Duct tape
If duct tape can’t bodge it – shoe, skin, equipment, bone – then nothing will and you’re out. Yes, I have witnessed folks taping the soles of their feet with duct tape in a race to keep blisters under wraps long enough to get them home. And no, I have no idea how they got the duct tape off afterwards.
4. Hand sanitizer
The quickest way to have to stop in your tracks is to be hit with digestive issues. While many of these are undoubtedly through eating/ drinking while your heart rate is too high, poor ongoing hydration, and physical bowel irritation through the motion of running, a fair few of them will be thanks to a good old upset stomach.
Any body under stress, i.e. someone in training and running hard for a long time, is more likely to suffer from a flare up of a dicky tummy. That said individual has probably been carrying an ugly bacteria in their gut for some time with no issues, but come the stress associated with running it takes hold…which is then shared around via sweaty palms, sweaty bottle passes, sweaty jelly bean distribution…yup, runners like to share. A squirt of hand sanitizer might just help you out.
5. Hand tissues
Snotty nose or issues related to the above and you’ll be real glad that you’re carrying a couple of tissues.
To keep topping up with water refills. Running in summer temps at a minimum of 30C is going to use some body salts.
And that’s about it. Nothing which is difficult or complicated to track down but all items which might just come in useful in a sticky situation.