What to Pack for an Ultra Marathon
At Wilderness Press, we practice what we preach. Our books are about trails—our team plays on those trails. I personally adore the trails so much that I like to run ultra marathons on them. As in, I run 100-mile races in the woods. On purpose.
As soon as the weather starts to flirt with warmer temperatures, I get super excited for a new year full of trail adventures. And with a new year comes new ultra runners who are probably trying to soak up every ounce of advice they can. Or at least that’s how I was when I first started trail running.
After a few years of trial-and-error and “Oh no, I forgot X” and “Ugh, why did I bring Y,” I feel like I have my ultra packing list pretty much set in stone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about what to bring to your ultra, here’s a peek at what I pack inside my drop bags.
Batteries—A dim headlamp is dangerous, and a dead phone battery is demoralizing.
Wet wipes—Way more gentle on your aforementioned chafed bottom than leaves or grass. Just be sure to still follow Leave No Trace principles and pack them out!
Extra clothes—Trust me—take those extra few moments and change your clothes. You will feel like a new person.
Extra socks—No one wants to have foot issues or for it to rain, but these things happen. Be ready. Also bring a towel to get all the dirt off your feet before putting on the new socks.
Diaper cream—Slather your feet in this butt salve to ward off blisters. You can spend extra money on foot-specific products, but the end result is the same—happy feet.
Blister kit—What should go in a blister kit, you ask? Why, we just happen to publish this award-winning book called Fixing Your Feet that will answer all your blister questions (and prevent you from getting one in the first place!).
Vaseline—For when your special bits start to chafe (because they will chafe).
Scissors—For any wardrobe malfunctions or extraneous limbs that get in the way.
Favorite snack—Nothing lifts your spirits like a morsel of your favorite food in the middle of the race.
Caffeine—Espresso beans, Red Bull, caffeinated Gu are worth their weight in gold at 2 a.m.
Ziplock bags—Toss some aid station food into these suckers to create your own custom trail mix and keep moving during the race.
Ginger chews—Settle an upset stomach before it derails your race.
Sodium—S Caps, Tailwind, McDonald’s salt packets, ocean water—stay salty, my friends!
Flask—I have found that sipping on the good stuff both during and after races is quite enjoyable. Don’t want to carry the extra weight? There’s always beer at the finish.
We’d love to hear what things you always bring to a race!