Here I sit, a cup of french-pressed coffee and a hunk of Nutella-smeared baguette by my side. In addition to twenty hours of sleep and zero miles run for two days, this caffeine and sugar has me wide-eyed and foaming at the mouth, anxious to get this race underway. Can we start now? How about now?! With still twenty-four hours left to wait, I couldn’t be more restless.
In minutes I will abandon my peaceful hideout here in Les Houches and venture into the amped-up, energized, over-the-top circus known as Chamonix, There I will check in, have my race bag frisked for its mandatory contents and possibly have my urine sampled for drugs (I hope Nutella isn’t a drug).
In attempt to keep myself occupied, I’ve written up a summary of what I’ll carry, what I’ll wear, and what I’ll eat during the 2013 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.
In the Pack
I’ll be the first to admit that this is by far the most I’ve ever carried for a race, but given my recent encounter with hypothermia I’d rather be safe (and warm) than sorry. All runners are required to haul the same list of gear, and since I’ve been training with mine all summer the extra load won’t put me at any kind of disadvantage.
So, what’s inside?
- Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest — In general I hate packs, but this one from UD sits snug and secure, never chafes, and has the capacity to carry everything else below.
- Platypus 0.5L Soft Bottle w/ HyperFlow Cap (x2) – Two collapsible bottles from which I can drink without removal will provide my required one liter of hydration capacity. I wish I could take credit for this approach, but Nick Pedatella has used a similar setup for some time.
- Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles — These poles weigh next to nothing but allow the upper body and core to more effectively assist the legs on climbs. After training extensively with them, I’m convinced they’ll be worthwhile. (Thanks Roch!)
- Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB Hooded Jacket – Sadly PI didn’t bring one of these to market this year, so Scott lent me his. It’s lightweight, waterproof with taped seams and meets the UTMB requirement. I’ll only break this out if the weather gods get upset.
- Pearl Izumi Select Softshell Gloves — These gloves are fairly thin but will be the first thing I put on as the sun sets during the climb to Col du Bonhomme.
- Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WXB Gloves — I’m a weenie and my hands get really cold. Once they’re numb, they’re useless. These waterproof gloves from PI meet the requirement and can be layered over my softshell gloves as needed.
- Buff Original Headwear — I always carry a Buff in the mountains, and whether it’s shaped into a headband to keep sweat out of my eyes or a beanie to warm my ears, the thing is always seeing use.
- Petzl MYO RXP Headlamp — Bright, durable, comfortable and simple with easily replaceable ‘AA’ batteries; this is my go-to torch.
- Smartwool Cuffed Beanie — Should the Buff fail to keep my dome toasty, I’ll have this beanie ready for action.
- Pearl Izumi “Top Secret” MC Hammer Pants — No seriously, you can’t touch these! Scott had them made for the 2011 UTMB to meet the waterproof pants requirement; so he lent them to me. I have no intent of using these no matter how bad the weather gets.
- Emergency Blanket — I picked up this generic piece of mandatory gear before I left home. It’s nothing special, just one of those space blankets they hand out after marathons.
- Elastic Bandage — I really hope I don’t need to use this piece of the mandatory kit…
- Petzl Tikka Plus — I’ve probably owned this puny lamp since I was 8 years old. It’s not bright, but it is more sensible than carrying another Petzl MYO RXP for the spare lamp requirement.
- Spare Batteries — Duh.
- UltrAspire Collapsible Cup — A tiny piece of rubber that folds into nothing and stuffs into a pocket (which Drew graciously lent me the day before I left). I’ve only used it to swig beer so far; thus I hope it will hold soup and Coke too.
- Ultimate Direction Whistle — Ah yes, the whistle. My pack came with one, so that’s what I’ll take. Might just give it a toot each time I cross a national border since they’re making me carry it.
On the Body
Here’s what I’ll wear to the start line tomorrow evening. Pearl Izumi kindly provided me with much of my gear (thanks, guys!) and fortunately they make good stuff. It enables me to place an emphasis on comfort and the ability to layer up and down as needed.
- Pearl Izumi E:Motion Trail M2 Shoes — Since February I’ve put all my mileage on either the N1s or the M2s. Bighorn convinced me that the M2 strikes a balance between cushion and lightweight making it the perfect 100-mile shoe.
- Pearl Izumi Ultra Split Shorts — These shorts are without a doubt my favorite piece of PI gear. Big pockets sown into the liner allow me to carry tons of food with zero bounce. They never chafe; maybe I’ll send Hal a pair.
- Pearl Izumi In-R-Cool Sleeveless Shirt – With inside-out seams, this is the most comfortable shirt PI makes, and sleeveless means ample ventilation when needed.
- Pearl Izumi In-R-Cool Long Sleeve Shirt — Same as the sleeveless but with sleeves (duh) and a quarter-zip. As it cools off I’ll throw this on over the sleeveless shirt.
- Pearl Izumi Ultra Jacket — This will be the next layer after the long sleeve shirt. It’s light and packs down to nothing but without a hood or taped seems, fails to meet the UTMB spec (hence the red, hooded jacket above). It goes on over the long sleeve shirt.
- Drymax Run Lite Socks — I’ve never had blisters (or any other problems) with these on my feet. That said I’ll have a couple spare pairs with the crew, just in case.
- Headsweats Race Hat – A simple cap to keep the sun out of my eyes and nothing more.
- Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves — I’ll have these around my wrists ready to roll up my arms as soon as I feel a chill. With these, the long sleeve shirt, the windbreaker and the waterproof jacket I have up to four layers I can wear. No hypothermia this time!
For the Tummy
Ah yes, food. For fear of the unrecognizable aid station offerings, I decided to smuggle a cache of familiar fuels onto my transatlantic flight. While the TSA did confiscate two bottles of Ensure, everything else made it to France.
My stomach can’t do the same food all day, so I like to train and race with a variety of fuels. In addition to Vi Fuel, Clif Shots, Hammer Bars, Justin’s Nut Butter, Nuun and an assortment of candy, I’ll rely on aid station soup and fruit to get me back to Chamonix. Only then will my fondue and gelato binge begin.
The photo below shows what I’ll carry from the start (on the left) and what my crew bag will contain (on the right). I’ll shoot for m,y standard 200 calories per hour which I hope I can maintain throughout the race.
Bon Voyage, Solar-Oiselle!
In Part 1 I discussed my simple of goal: finish the full race. Having arrived a week early and conducted some course recon, I feel very confident in my ability to succeed here. If I can self-maintain (eat, drink, stay warm) and self-restrain (avoid the hype, run my own race), things will go well.
Click here if you wish to follow my progress. Simply type my last name (Trimboli) or my race number (#2233) into the search box.
The fun begins tomorrow (Friday, August 30th) at 4:30pm here in Chamonix (10:30am EDT, 8:30am MDT). Winners could finish under 21 hours, and I’ll likely take anywhere from 25 to 35 hours. Thanks for your support, and stay tuned for Part 5, my post-race follow up!