How to Pack Your UTA Mandatory Gear
Save Valuable time on Race Day
Packing your mandatory gear properly, will save you time, ensure you are comfortable, and give you peace of mind come race day.
The UTA 22, 50 and 100 all have mandatory gear requirements. Make sure you are very familiar with them. If you are doing the UTA 100 you need to have your gear checked at race registration. There are no pre-race gear checks for the UTA50 or UTA22 but it is essential that you carry all of the compulsory items.
There are mandatory gear checks during the race, where you will be asked to produce one or two specific items out of your pack. If you don't want to be standing there for 10 minutes unpacking and repacking your bag, you need to be organised.
Make sure you practice carrying ALL of the compulsory gear on at least two of your long training runs, preferably more. You need to know that everything will fit, and you can experiment with packing the bag slightly differently each time you run until it sits most comfortably.
Getting to the night before the race and finding out that your full mandatory gear list wont actually fit in your pack is extremely stressful. Do yourself a huge favour, and start practicing now.
After years of doing ultras, I have come up with a system, that is simple and works for me every time. Follow these few tips to help your race go smoothly on race day.
- I use a Salomon Advanced Skin S Lab 12 pack - this fits everything I need for the UTA100 and UTA50
- Roll all your clothes items into tight cylinders and put a rubber band around them.
- Put all your clothes separately into ziplock bags and put a label on each item so you can quickly identify what it is. Make sure you put the label inside the bag so it doesn't get ripped off or destroyed if it is wet
- Have a strategy for where everything goes. Emergency items like your compression bandage and space blanket can be tucked away in your zip pocket where you don't need immediate access to them
- Put all the heavy clothes items in the bottom of your pack. Heavy items lower down will be more comfortable and they will bounce around less during the race
- I find it useful to carry the food I need for each stage on the front of my pack and I store additional items in the back zip pocket out of the way
If you follow these tips, when you are stopped on race day by a martial you can quickly produce the item they need and be on your way.
If you are thinking this doesn't apply to you because you are doing the UTA22, think again. If you were at last years race, you will know that wet weather gear had to be carried. This definitely caught a few people off guard when it came to packing and storing their gear properly.
I have a few other helpful hints, I think worth considering.
- Arm Warmers- These are great to help you keep warm on the start line. It can get really cold in the mountains in May. Instead of wearing your thermal gear, a pair of arm warmers can keep you warm initially, and they are easy to remove after a few km's when you have warmed up. Pass them to your support crew or shove them in the back of your pack for later.
- Extra soft flasks / drink bottles - I like to carry a couple of extra soft flasks in my pack. You can put your powder /nutrition (eg tailwind) inside the flask before the race and simply add water to it when you reach the check point. This will save you time and help you keep on top of your nutrition strategy for the race
- Race Belts - Simple yet effective. Firstly, no need to pin anything to your favourite race shirt! Secondly, when you are changing layers during the race, your number can always be seen. And, it is a lot less fiddly when swapping clothes.
- Carrying Your Poles - If you are using poles in the UTA or are still undecided, I recommend you watch this video from Scott Hawker. He shares some good tips on how to train with them. I have recently started running with a belt called the Naked Running Band. It carries poles, doubles as a race belt and is incredibly useful for storing other items like gels and bars.
I hope your training is going well. If the nerves are kicking in and you are getting concerned you haven't run far enough. Read this article on how long should your long run be!
In my experience most runners err on the side of too much training, rather than too little. Especially with too much emphasis on their long run and less consideration given to the shorter mid-week training sessions. I think that the maximum training cut-off is around 5hrs-6hrs of running. If you spend more than 5-6 hours running, then the balance of fitness Vs recovery swings too much towards recovery, and you lose out in terms of overall fitness as a result of having to spend too much time recovering.
Watch the video on how to pack your gear to ensure you have a well organised and comfortable pack on race day.
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