One of my favorite things about running is that there are always new challenges and experiences, no matter how long one has been pounding the pavement. Another is the wonderful experienced runners — like my running mentor and friend Brandess Wallace — who support us newbies and answer our endless questions.
Brandess has already shared her 10 must-haves for your first ultra marathon and today she’s sharing her top 10 ultra marathon drop bag essentials. You can even print out a list to make sure you don’t forget anything: 10 drop bag essentials.
- Change of shoes. Depending on the race, the course has the potential to have anything from muddy horse trails to waist-deep water crossings. Even on courses with ideal terrain, having a change of shoes can be just what your achy feet need. During my 50 miler, after 34 miles in my Brooks Cascadia trail shoes I could feel every rock on the trail with each step. I switched them out for a pair of Hokas for the final 16 miles and the relief was remarkable.
- Change of socks. Running in wet socks is pretty much the worst. I don’t have many sensory issues, but the feeling of running in wet socks gives me nightmares. Always carry an extra pair, just in case.
- Change of clothing. Weather conditions can vary from the start to the end of a race. For races in Michigan, temps tend to be cooler in the mornings and gradually increase throughout the day. Pack accordingly. Check the forecast. Have a light jacket or poncho packed in case of rain.
- Band-Aids/moleskin. Hot spots and blisters often pop up when running more than 26.2 miles. Moleskin is great at creating a barrier between blisters and whatever is causing the discomfort.
- Vaseline/Body Glide. Chafe happens. Reapply as needed. I usually experience chafing along my bra line in the front and back. A friend of mine suggested applying kinesiology tape on those areas as a preventative measure and it works! Yay, no more unsightly scars!
- Baby wipes. Great for cleaning up any dirt, bugs and sweat that have accumulated on your body during the race.
- Sunscreen/bug spray. Applying at the start will probably not be enough for the entire duration of the race. I pack travel sized bottles of each that don’t take up very much space in my bag.
- Electrolyte tabs. Depending on the weather, you may be losing electrolytes faster than your body can replace them with Gatorade alone. Electrolyte tabs will help prevent and alleviate any cramping that may occur during the race.
- Fuel. Yes, there is LOTS of great food to fuel with at the aid stations, but like a boy scout, it is always smart to “Be Prepared.” Whatever you already use to fuel during a traditional marathon, make sure to pack for your ultra. You never know if the fueling options at the aid stations are not going to agree with your body. I can’t imagine potato chips and gummy bears not agreeing with someone, but you never know!
- Your carrot! This is the one thing that will help you get to the end if you are in the deepest running funk ever. For my first ultra, I packed four things: HARIBO gummy bears; Fritos corn chips; a photo of me and my brother who had passed away 12 years ago the day of the race; and a photo of my husband who was on deployment with the U.S. Army at the time. I knew I had those items waiting for me at the drop bag point. They boosted my morale and gave me motivation for the final stretch of the race. Take some time to really think about what your carrot is and make sure you include it in your bag.
Brandess, a few of our favorite runners and I are running the Run Woodstock 50K in a couple of weeks. Thanks to her, I will certainly be among the most prepared for whatever may come that day. Thanks, chica!
Are you an experienced ultra marathoner? What else would you add to this list of ultra marathon drop bag necessities? Feel free to share your blog post link below if you’ve written about this before. (Click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)