How to pack for an Ultra Marathon

How do you pack your gear for races?

For multi day stage races it depends on what and where I am going. My favourite brand is The North Face and I use their backpacks. This fits me perfectly and does up nicely over the chest with a velcro section so no matter your size it sits snugly. Its also great for women as it protects the breast and stop unwanted movement there. I also love that it has a pockets around the wide waist belt so you can always reach your snacks and electrolyte tablets which is crucial. If it’s in your backpack you won’t eat regularly enough.

I organise the separate groups of items into separate zip lock bags and then back them in.

I have a North Face sleeping bag which is super light and warm. I don’t carry a sleeping mat as for me weight is absolute crucial. I have a bad back so I can’t afford any luxuries and the bare minimum in food and equipment.

I break all my food rations down into daily packs.

I even cut my toothbrush in half that is how pedantic I get about weight. Every extra gram out there can be a real drag literally. So go over and over with your packing and use your full gear at least a half a dozen times when training to iron out any problems.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

Strangest thing – in the Marathon des Sables a 240km race in Morrocco I saw some strange sights. A guy running in a full rhino suit to bring attention to the plight of Rhinos. Try doing that in 40 plus degrees. Another dressed as a Waiter in a suit with a tray he carried the whole way with a coke bottle on it and two children with cerebral palsy being carried on these contraptions by 8 runners at a time. They carried them the entire way, alternating teams in order to give these kids the experience of a lifetime. It was amazing.

I have sometimes bought paper underwear that you can toss away. It’s too heavy to carry say 7 pairs of normal underwear and I wouldn’t go without sterilizing hand gels as the loos can get pretty disgusting on a multi day and the bugs get passed around throughout camp so easily when you aren’t able to wash.

Things like snake kits which are often compulsory are a waste of time and just lip service to the problem. Flares I think are a good idea in case you get in serious trouble but they are heavy. For some desert races these were compulsory and I have seen them used to good effect. 

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