With less than one week to go until my Ultra Marathon the nerves are starting to set in.
I banked my longest run (64km/40miles) a few weeks ago and I’m now halfway through my two week taper so I am well rested come race day (though I’ve unofficially been taking it easier for a week or so more than that). Two more light runs and that will be my training complete.
Around 22 weeks and 950+ km of training has brought me to this point, over which I’ve covered all manner of runs and efforts to increase my fitness, endurance and (hopefully) general ultra running ability. Short runs, long runs, even longer runs, easy runs, fast runs, hill repeats, sprintervals, and a number of PBs to boot over recent months (at 5km, 10km, half marathon, 30km, full marathon distances).
This 100km is the big one though. Maps, kit and pack lists are stuck up in our hallway so as not to forget anything and to remind me of the route (surely you can’t get lost following the river?). All my kit and equipment has been refined down over my training to leave me with the mandatory kit required by the event (like a headtorch) to the basics I hope to survive on.
A lot of it comes down to weight. Most items I’m going to be carrying probably weight no more than a few hundred grams each, but they soon add up and indeed will start to feel a lot heavier having carried them for 12+ hours.
My race vest is the Kalenji Trail Bag – small, light, comfortable and fits two bottles up front. I’ve tried more expensive brands and hydration bladders before but, personal preference, I don’t like not being able to see how much fluid I have left. Two bottles allows me one water with electrolyte tabs and another of High5 Energy mix. Carrying enough liquid during training often meant a heavy bag or refill stops, fortunately in the Ultra there are water stations every 12km or so.
In my bag I’ll be running with my two bottles, phone, ID/bank cards, head torch, spare socks, spare underwear, blister kit, mini vaseline, wet wipes, lip balm, sun cream, electrolyte tabs, medical tape, energy gels and food snacks. It sounds like a lot, but I’ve whittled this down from what I used to take and I hope it will cover all situations (or at least allow me to get to an aid station should the need arise).
I still use elastic laces (time saving in transition zones from when I started duathlon) but even when just running I find they tend to flex a little more than regular laces when pulled tight, which prevents any soreness digging in across the top of my foot.
Organisers will take a bag to the halfway point for you, and I’ve got family meeting me at the first and third checkpoints with supplies to top myself up so I don’t need to carry absolutely everything from the start.
Here’s hoping the weather isn’t too hot, wish me luck. Once I’ve recovered from the event I’ll write a post-race review!