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What to pack for your first ultra marathon...

Posted May 21 2013 11:11pm
As I've been working on this post I've had a song in my head that goes a little something like this

I'm going to an ultra marathon and in my suitcase I will pack: an apple,
some bandaids, a can of pop...  

Do you remember playing that game and singing it as a kid?  Except I'm pretty sure when we were little we sang it about a "vacation" not an "ultra marathon" but hey, things change as you get older.

I'm pretty good at packing a race bag, I know the things I need beforehand and I know what things I like to have waiting for me when I finish.  But packing for an ultra marathon is a whole different story.  This time my bag is not going to be sitting around while I'm out running.  No sir, I'm going to be running for so much longer than ever before that I will be giving my bag to our support team and going in and out of it at checkpoints every 5km or so.  Whoa, game changer.

Like a good little runner I've been talking to lots of people and doing lots of reading about what I should bring with me.  Not because I can't figure out the necessities but because I'm hoping my soon-to-be fellow ultra marathoners might take pity on first-timer me and give me some tips.  And they have.  And I'm so thankful for their help.

Well, a first-timer's opinion anyways...
In 4 more sleeps I am going to my first ultra marathon and in my bag I will pack...


  • Spare pair(s) of shoes
  • Extra pair(s) of socks
  • Extra shirts
  • A long sleeve shirt
  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • An extra Handana  (lots to wipe over the course of 55km!)
  • Sunglasses
  • Garmin
  • iPod (just in case I need some extra pep in my step)
  • iPhone (gotta keep everyone updated and take photos!)
Medical/First Aid:
  • Pain relief meds
  • Lanacane anti-chafe (the best product out there, you should try it!)
  • Sunscreen
  • Chap stick
  • Baby wipes (as one runner put it "A clean ___ is a happy ___")
  • Blister kit: needle, bandaids, mole skin
  • Sports tape
  • Muscle relief gel
  • Kleenex
  • Roll Recovery R8 (LOVE that thing)
  • Homemade-orade (recipe here )
  • Salt pills
  • Dried cherries, peaches, raisins and apricots
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Boiled salted potatoes (apparently a fave of Ray Zahab's and mentioned by several others!)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches (I don't really eat bread anymore but after 55km I'm game for anything!)
  • Bananas
  • Sports beans, gels, energy bars and Gatorade (as backups) 
  • Treats: chips, chocolate covered raisins, pretzels, banana bread, granola bars, chocolate milk, juice boxes
  • Lots of water
Lucky charms:
Bits of advice I've received so far:
  • Bring a sense of humour
  • If you think you're going too slow, slow down some more
  • Fuelling is key. It works differently for everyone but bottom line is, you just have to do it.
  • Have fun, enjoy every moment
  • Drink, drink, eat, repeat
  • It's all about the food
  • Ray will have all the magic goodies you need
  • Bring a donut
I'm planning to pack all of my extra gear in a knapsack and all of my food in a small cooler.

Have you ever run an ultra marathon before?  What do you think of my list?  Any suggestions or omissions?

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