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Packing for an Endurance Race

As the marathon became a more popular event through the 1960s and 70s, more and more runners wanted a great and more demanding challenge. Races continue to get longer and race locales more exotic—from treks across the desert Southwest to freezing Plains state excursions. So, whether you plan to tackle Badwater’s 50 miles or Lake Martin’s 100 miles in March or brave the sweltering New Mexico heat in June’s Angel Fire Endurance, we’ve put together a list of must-have items.

  • Compact Toiletries – In a plastic or otherwise water-tight bag, you’ll want to make sure you have some toilet paper, ibuprofen, Vaseline or other water-proof skin coating, bandages, sunscreen, and Breathe Right strips. Remember to conserve space and weight. You can spoon Vaseline into single use packets of plastic wrap for easy portability. For trail runs, you may pack water purification tablets as well.
  • Extra Socks, shoes, and underwear – You want to make sure you have what you need if the unexpected happens. Running 100 miles, even the expected may warrant a change of socks and underwear at some point. Keep your feet as dry as you can. Know the course—some endurance trail runs include crossing waterways one or more times.
  • Food and hydration – Whether it’s electrolyte-rich sports drinks, gel packs, or real food, make sure you’ve got the fuel you need to push through 50+ miles of running. You may rely on a handheld water bottle for much of the race or a hydration pack for long, inaccessible portions of the race. Review your course map and then make a hydration plan to ensure you have all you’ll need.
  • Weather appropriate gear – If it will be hot and sunny, you may not last all day shirtless or in a tank top. Bring a light, breathable sleeve in case you need coverage. Bring a hat for shade and sunglasses to keep the sun from obstructing your vision. Pack a light rain slicker (perhaps your breathable sleeve?) in case of rain.
  • Partner for the trail – You’ll want to have all of these items, and perhaps more, on your race, but carry as little as you can on you while running. How do you pull this off? You’ll need a course buddy—someone to be waiting for you and to hop on the course for a mile or two to check in, make sure you’re as “Great! I’m great!” as you say you are, and to swap out gear if needed. The sleeve was too much? Pass it off! Are there clouds darkening ahead? Grab the poncho and some more carb gels. Are your shorts drenched? Have your buddy be your impromptu changing room curtain while you get into some dry drawers.

Covering 50 miles or more at one time is no easy task for any runner, regardless of how fit or how many times they’ve done it. You’ll be working hard enough to keep your body on task. Don’t let thirst, wet socks, or a sunburn sideline you. What items would you add or remove from the list? Have you been on a long race and realized you forgot something? Join the conversation below and follow us here so you never miss an update.

 

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