This weekend I laid all my gear out to show what I’ll be wearing and carrying for the TMBT 100 km ultra-trail marathon.
My wife returned from her summer trip to America with a sizable portion of her suitcase allocated to my ultra running gear. Woohoo! After the race director’s July update, I decided I really ought to invest in a new pair of trail shoes. The worn lugs and hole in one toe of my trusty Montrail’s had me worried. My foot is wide, so it is quite a challenge to find a good fitting shoe, especially here in Malaysia. So after hours of internet research, I finally selected New Balance’s new ultra trail shoe, the Leadville 1210 in a size 10.5 4E.They were designed for ultra running, so have good cushioning, and an expanding upper to accommodate the foot as it swells on average of 7% during a long ultra run. The tread is not quite as rugged as I would prefer for Malaysian jungle (particularly if it is wet), but it is not bad and being made by Vibram, should be long lasting. Best of all, they fit great and are supper comfortable. I’ve worn them on two 6 hour road/trail/road training outings and I couldn’t be more pleased, especially for a shoe purchased sight unseen over the internet.
The reviews on the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Signature Series ultra running vest are numerous, so I will not go into great detail. Overall, it fits great and feels great running. No complaints on the fit or feel.However, after seeing it in person, I was a disappointed by just how small the 9 liter storage capacity is, especially once you add a 1.5 liter bladder. I was also disappointed that the side pockets under the arms are really barely accessible while on the go — and I’m a pretty limber and lean 67 kg runner. It is light and airy, but I have serious doubt about how well the nice stretch mesh and even the cuben fiber will fair against the stout claw-like thorns of the rattan vines which frequently dangle over the jungle trails. Once they snag flesh or fabric, if you continue moving forward they will stubbornly dig in deeper, only releasing if you back up and delicately pull them back in the direction opposite their thorn-hooks. So far I have been able to keep it from getting snagged, but it is just a matter of time before the tropical jungle will duel with Colorado design. I also find that the cuben fiber, which Ultimate Direction markets as being “nearly waterproof,” gets soaked through with sweat in jungle treks at a much higher rate than I would imagine it does in the dry and crisp Colorado mountain air! I’m happy with the vest, it is comfortable and will be great for the TMBT, but if I had it to do over again I would purchase something a bit more durable and a bit larger. Now I wish I had gone for the Ultimate Direction Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest with it’s 12 liter capacity and slight variations, making it sit lower on the back, thus the side pockets would be more practical for actual use during a run. Live and learn.
Thinking I’ll need all the help I can get by 50 km drop-bag point on the relentless 5,200 meter elevation climbs, I splurged and purchased a pair of Black Diamond Distance FL Z-Poles. These collapse into 3 short sections rather than telescoping down and they are adjustable from 120 – 140 cm. I’ve never used trekking poles before, but can see how they could be beneficial at night for greater balance and to let the arms take some of the effort in the uphill climbs. They are quite light, weighing in at only 1 lb. They fit nicely into the back-side pocket of my Ultimate Direction hydration pack.
The Injinji trail toe socks were quite comfortable in my roomy New Balance Leadville’s. I’ll definitely be wearing them on race day. Knock on wood, I have not had any problem with blisters so far, so hope these will help keep it that way for 20 hours on the trail. I really like the Gutr silicone sweatband! It keeps the sweat from pouring down my face and glasses and because it is literally a mini silicone gutter, I never have to take it off and wring it out like I needed to do with my Halo headband. The CEP UV protection arm bands are light and comfortable, but I need to test them more on a mid-day run. I’m trying to cover up as much as I can rather than depend on sunscreen. I’ve got prescription sun glasses, so I’m fine on that (the Gutr headband also keeps them tightly tucked in and sitting firmly). I already have a good medium weight rain jacket with hood, it is 400 grams.
Then there is fuel, hydration and nutrition. I’m leaning heavily on Hammer products. After the advice of an 2 time Badwater ultra finisher, I’ve tried the Anti-Fatigue caps and I’m now a true believer! The first time I used them, I ran the same 31 km, 6 hour route I did 2 weeks previously, but with the Anti-Fatigue caps I felt like after a quick breakfast I could have gone out and completed the route again. I’m also planning to use Hammer Heed for liquid refueling and electrolyte replacement, along with Perpetuem tablets for protein/calorie/fuel every hour. S-Caps for electrolyte replacement. Then of course a variety of Hammer and Gu gels. My goal for the next two weeks of training before I start my taper, is to organize my pack like I want it on race day, to be able to access things quickly and know just where they are. I’ll also concentrate on consuming 300 calories per hour to make sure I have that regiment down. One month until race day. I am feeling good about the past 9 months of training and I am looking forward to September 14th like a school boy longing for the first day of summer!