Alongside the mandatory kit list for the UTMB I carried a few other bits and bobs which proved to be invaluable throughout the duration of the race. Here is my list of 10 items that I thnkare essential to carry with you in the race.
Walking Poles – Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Pole
The Black Diamond Carbon Z pole is very light and sturdy and is very easy to stow away without getting in the way thanks to its folding mechanism. In the later stages of the race, these became invaluable to me as they take pressure off the legs and help you haul yourself up the mountains. Most of the pros use them in this race so they must be a good thing.
Nobody wants to get blisters in a race and it’s always best to try and prevent them in the first place but if you do get blisters then these are a great way to minimise the pain and discomfort to allow you to carry on to the finish line.
When I ran the UTMB in 2016 it was hot and sunny on Saturday so a pair of sunglasses were a must. Don’t bother with a cheap pair as they can distort your vision. In the world of sports sunglasses, one name always rises to the top of the pile, Oakley. Without a doubt the finest sunglasses available and everything you need. Light, sturdy and with incredibly clear vision these are the ones to get. Half Jacket 2 was my preferred model. Add an iridium lens for that extra badass look.
When the sun is beating down and you have nowhere to hide than a good running cap can protect the top of your head and face from sunburn and help prevent sweat from dripping into your eyes causing them to sting. Add in a legionnaire style neck cover and you can keep yourself protect from the harsh alpine sun and help prevent against sunstroke.
A cup is on the UTMB kit list and the best one I found was this collapsible cup from Salomon. It weighs next to nothing and can be collapsed down and stuffed in a pocket so it takes up very little space in your kit bag. Compare this to some of the more rigid ones I found and it all helps to keep your kit weight down to a minimum. A handy little loop allows you to attach it to a belt or running pack so that it’s always there when you reach a checkpoint and need to get a strong black coffee to perk you up on the second night. Also useful for pouring water from troughs down the back of your neck in the 32degree heat.
A seemingly mysterious item from the kit list and a lot of people were unsure as to what constitutes an adhesive elastic band enable making a bandage or a strapping (Well I was unsure anyway) but this is just a roll of plaster with a minimum length of 1m and width of 6cm. Standard issue from most pharmacies.
If, like me, you find the majority of sun creams too thick and greasy to use when you’re running the Ultrasun Sports Transparent Sun Protection Spray SPF50 is the perfect solution. It’s fragrance-free and specifically formulated to not to come off when you sweat a lot. Available in a range of different protection levels but if you are out in the sun all day then you should really be going for the maximum protection you can get so I went with factor 50.
Waterproof Kit Bags
On the second night, there was a thunderstorm of biblical proportions. No one wants to put wet kit on and these handy dry bags will keep your kit dry for when you need it. Also when you’re dunking your head in the many water troughs through the blazing hot day it will stop the water from giving your kit a good soaking. There are more expensive and robust options available but these are more expensive, bulkier and heavier.
No one wants to suffer chafing at any stage in a race, do they? Out of all the products I’ve tried Glide is easily the best. Since using it I’ve never suffered from any form of chafing and by applying it to my feet as part of my blister prevention strategy I’ve not had any sort of serious, painful blister. Apply liberally to feet, nether regions and anywhere else you usually suffer from chafing and I can almost guarantee you will have a chafe free run. It really is that good!
Portable Battery Charger
Any race where you are going to be put for 30+ hours will require some of your electronic devices to be recharged. This handy portable charger from Anker will allow you to charge these on the go. I charged my phone, headtorch (multiple times) and watch from a single charger and it still had power left in it at the end after all these charges. The Anker chargers are robust and carry enough juice to see you through the race.