Don’t Leave Home Without Them… Ultra Marathon Equipment Must Haves
Likely those who participated in the first marathon centuries ago didn’t have the modern conveniences that we have today. Being followed by chariots and having nothing but their feet to run on, things have come a long way. If you are ready to try your hand at the insanity which is known as the ultra marathon, there are things that you absolutely must invest in. Many marathoners can make it the whole way “a natural”, but the ultra marathon puts demands on the human body that require reserves not only that come from within, but that also come from Amazon or a running outlet.
Ultra marathons are those races that go beyond the marathon range of 26.8 and can go anywhere up to 300 kilometers or more. The popularity of them has increased the types you can participate in and the number of miles that are required. One thing that is certain, you are going to at least need some hydration along the way. Even a camel has humps.
Plan after the race conditions
Another key to having all that you need is to consider the conditions that you will be enduring. Depending on whether you are running through the mountains, snow, or hot desert sand, each will require that you plan ahead in different ways. As a runner, you likely know that nothing can spoil a good run more than being unprepared. The weather doesn’t care that you are hitting the trail and can change in an instant. If you don’t anticipate all the things you can encounter along the way, it can at best slow you down, at worst, take you out. Making sure to bring the essentials is critical to making it through.
A good mix between bringing what you need to, and traveling light, is essential. Perhaps just as important is to train the way you are going to run the ultra. If you haven’t ever worn a new hydration belt and decide the day of the race, that is a big mistake. Being able to accommodate for even the slightest details on race day will help you make the road less traveled much more comfortable. To ensure that you have a healthy and safe run, these things are essentials that you must consider.
GPS or road tracking
At most ultra marathons there are safety details following the runners. In the case of an emergency, it is imperative that you bring your own safety equipment. The problem that most ultra marathoners run into is that GPS will not work in the remote places they run. At best, you can send out a distress signal if you need help. Carrying a Garmin to track your location, for your sake, and also so that you can be found if need be, is important to keep yourself safe if something unforeseen should happen.
A hat or scarf
Not many people like to wear hats, but if you have to contend with the sun, the wind, or even rain, you are going to want to put something on your head for protection. Wearing sunscreen is imperative, but sometimes it is not enough. Even the best sunscreens will wear off over time, especially when you are sweating. A good scarf should cover both your head or your mouth if you run into dust or inclement conditions along the way. Going across the country, it is possible for you to leave in the sunshine and end up in the snow, depending on where you are going. Always check the forecast not just for where you are leaving from, but where you are headed to as well.
Hydration packs or bottle belt
One of the biggest hurdles is going to be your ability to stay hydrated. Carrying along a backpack or a bottle belt is the best way to maintain hydration throughout the run. Many marathoners think that it is an extra inconvenience that they don’t want to deal with. Assuming that there will be people along the way to help out with Gatorade or water, simply is not a good plan of action. When covering the type of mileage that an ultra marathoner does, there are likely to be places that no one is going to be around to help with fluids.
The key to finding the right one is to wear it when training and to try out several. Some of them are not an inexpensive investment, but a necessary one. When you purchase one, try it out right away, if it doesn’t work, then return it and try something else. You have to have a comfort level with it and make sure that it doesn’t rub anywhere. The last thing you are going to want is to chafe somewhere and have it stop you in your tracks. Again, the most important thing is to train exactly as you intend to run on race day, so make sure to bring it along wherever you go.
There are going to be assistants along the trail should you need medical help. There are things that you may want to pack for yourself. Liquid bandaid, anti-chaffing products, sunscreen, and lip protectant are all things that you can put on your body which are very useful. Not taking the time to find someone for these simple necessities, finding a pocket to place them in will ensure you have them instantly when you need them.
You should carry with you a medical armband that gives your name and identification. Just for safe keeping, it is imperative that if you should need medical assistance, they know who you are, how old you are, and if you have any special medical conditions that need to be known if you are incapacitated. This is not to scare you, but these races can be grueling, and you have to plan for the unexpected to happen unexpectedly.
An extra shirt
An extra shirt may seem like overkill, but if the shirt you are wearing when you leave isn't enough to get you through your shoulder's getting burned, the temperature dropping, or you having a costume malfunction, you are going to want an extra shirt to throw on. Wrap a light-weight additional shirt around your waist to hit the trail and again, make sure that you always have the same shirt wrapped, in the same way, when training.
A marathon involves a lot of training, an ultra marathon even more. Even the most seasoned of marathon runners are going to be challenged with the additional mileage, and for some extreme races, the grueling courses. Anticipation and planning ahead are going to be your best friends. Above all, training is like a dress rehearsal for the big day. Make sure that you dress the same during the rehearsal then you do when the big day arrives.