UTMB TRAINING: THE GEAR
In this article (UTMB Training: The Gear) I want to explain and clarify the issues that relate to the gear needed or required for participating in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. First of all, for US-based ultra runners, this is subject to much torture because in the US I have yet to see an event that has a mandatory gear list! It stems probably from the fact that in the US no one cares if you die on the mountain in severe weather and also reflects cultural attitudes: in the US you’re on your own!
In contrast, the UTMB organizers provide a list of clothing and safety items that participants have to carry. The bags are checked when bibs are handed out (a couple of hours before the race) and random checks can occur on the course. It’s a lot of gear to carry for a ‘running race – this sounds more like a fast packing list. And it took quite some time and research to assemble most of the items. Finally, please note that the list doesn’t include a backpack! I’ve had a great experience with the Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 Set so I got a Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 to fit all the gear that I need to take with me. On long runs carrying the UTMB gear the pack weights about 8 to 9 lbs.
MANDATORY GEAR LIST
The list provided by the organizers is as follows (obviously translated from French by organizers – I like the French list better… but this blog is in English):
With an option enabling its use in the three countries. Using my old iPhone 3GS with extra battery. Also packing an iPod shuffle for when I want to listen to music (I won’t have 36hrs on the iPhone even with the extra battery) and also to have my Pzizz segments play (more on power naps later).
Personal cup or tumbler
15 cl minimum (water bottle not acceptable). Using the UltraSpire cup I was given at Miwok. It’s also possible to attach it with a carabiner. Feels great to take a piece of Miwok with me.
Stock of water
Minimum 1 liter. The Salomon pack holds 1.5l but I always fill it to 1 liter.
In good working condition with replacement batteries – Petzl Nao and Fenix LD20 180 Lumen LED Flashlight – Both totally badass – I carry a headlight and a flashlight because the flashlight helps discerning relief on the trail better. Not quite sure about the Nao battery but the original battery can be replaced by AA batteries.
1.40m x 2m minimum. The Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 comes with one – if there wouldn’t be any shelter along the route I’d pack my Adventures Medical Emergency Bivvy Whistle. There is one with the Salomon pack.
Adhesive elastic band
Enable making a bandage or a strapping (mini 100cm x 6 cm) – ACE Elastic Bandage
Packing bars and gels see the nutrition post about that. I will have to rely on course food too.
Jacket with hood
And made with a waterproof (recommendation: minimum 10,000 Schmerber) and breathable (recommendation: RET lower than 13) membrane (Gore-Tex or similar) which will withstand the bad weather in the mountains.
This was the most difficult item to obtain! For instance, I ended up ordering the North Face AK Storm Jacket from the UTMB store to make sure I had the right one. Problem: it took forever for them to ship to the US and the Euro exchange rate really doesn’t work in our favor. I don’t recommend ordering from the UTMB store if you live outside of France.
Or leggings or a combination of leggings and long socks which cover the legs completely. I will carry a pair of Cold Gear Under Armor leggings that I have used in winter training.
Additional warm mid-layer top
One single mid layer long sleeve top for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 180g (Men, size M) OR a two-piece clothing combination of a long-sleeve baselayer/mid-layer for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 110g (Men, size M) and a windproof jacket with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) protection. The windproof jacket does not replace the mandatory waterproof jacket with hood
OMG stop it with the details! So for this, I’m just packing the Cold Gear Under Armor top that goes with the leggings – it weights 210g. It’s been great through out the mountains forever.
Cap or bandana
I have an awesome Odlo fleece hat with a French flag on it which bought it in Chamonix a couple of years ago.
Warm and waterproof gloves
I chose the Outdoor Research Versaliner Gloves. They are warm and there’s a rain/wet over glove.
First, I first ordered a pair of North Face Storm Slayer Pants from the UTMB shop and after many phone calls it appeared the pants got lost in transport. It’s only after I got payment back from my credit card company that they really shipped a pair. In the meanwhile, I ordered a pair of Mountain Hardwear Epic Pants for half the price. To be sure, I’m taking the North Face pair to the race so that the gear meets the requirements.
VERY STRONGLY RECOMMENDED
Knife or scissors
With which to cut the self-adhesive elasticized bandage. I have a Petzl Spatha knife. Very light.
For security on slippery ground in case of rain or snow. For instance, I love my Black Diamond Ultra Distance Poles!
A change of warm clothes
Indispensable in the case of cold weather, rain or injury. Above all, In the Courmayeur drop bag, I will have a spare set of UA leggings and top – also socks and a pair of shoes.
The sum of 20 euros minimum
Carrying about 100 euros (the 20 they ask for are actually for the timing chip deposit) – and two credit cards. I hope I don’t get robbed in Italy!
MY OWN REGULAR RUNNING GEAR
Here’s what I trained with for the most part and will wear at the UTMB.
Shoes: Always, Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra – Those aren’t exactly that great. For instance, the upper mesh lets too much dust in the shoe, then the sock, which creates a potential situation for blisters because dirt accumulates under the big toe… But fine they will do! Still good shoes.
Shorts: In this case, Exo S-Lab Short. Above all, those are OK shorts but chaffing can occur because of the lining. I prefer wearing short shorts with no lining. However, because the UTMB starts at night I don’t need the cooling and would rather have my thighs rather warm.
Calf Compression: Better than anything, Salomon Exo Calf – those are great.
Socks: Injinji Run 2.0 Lightweight Minicrew
Shirt: Similarly, Under Armour Heat Gear Compression. And all time favorite.
Watch: Always, Suunto Core Watch (love it)
Sunglasses: Julbo Sherpa – However, they are quite scratched by now so I’m thinking about a pair of Julbo Vermont Classic
A couple of items not mentioned above (some of them recommended by the organizers): Gorilla tape, iPod Shuffle, Vaseline / Bodyglide, Minimal First Aid Kit, Spare Contact Lenses, Passport and finally, a sewing kit
That was fun. To conclude, I hope there’s some nasty weather and difficulties so I get to use everything at least once! I might provide a budget of how much this UTMB adventure cost me in the next part: The Rest! Or maybe it’s better to not count! Happy running!
- Video Summary – Race Report
- UTMB Training : Part1 Volume & Intensity – Part 2 – Nutrition – Part 4 – The Rest
- UTMB Newscast 1 – Newscast 2