Sunday, May 27, 2007

La Trans Aqu packing list

Ok, I've finalised, packed and weighed my rucksack for La Trans Aqu which starts a week tomorrow. I fly out to Bordeaux on Saturday, get a train to Lesparre and then get picked up and taken to the first bivouac.

First of all, this is the equipment I will be wearing. The numbers beside are weights. I've only showed weights for non-wearable items which I will must still carry. It may be possible to leave some of these items with the organiser, so I have no shown these with the main packing list.

Next up is my equipment. Those shown in bold are the mandatory items.

Total kit weight is 3616 grams, including the optional carry items such as my phone, money etc.

A few items to mention here: I am taking two spare pairs of socks. I plan to use all three pairs in one day on the longer routes to reduce blister risk.

Instead of taking running tights and a thermal top for the night run and for around the bivouac at night, I am packing a disposable paper suit. These are well used in these kinds of events by all accounts. I've seen footage of people using them in the MDS. Running tights and a Helly Hansen thermal top was almost 500grams, versus the paper suit 150grams. No contest.

P20 sun cream; I’m only taking half a small bottle, because it’s only my legs and face that is not covered.

Insect repellent might sound a little extravagant, but the organisers have warned us that there are very unpleasant biting horse flies that can cause a real plague and people can react badly to the bite. If we get thunder storms or wet weather just before the event, this will kill them off and I may be able to ditch this. If not, it is an essential.

My one luxury is a Thermarest Prolite 3 bedroll. I need to sleep as well as possible, so this will help. I'm also packing earplugs to aid sleep too.

The first aid kit is an essential. Unlike the MDS the organisers do not want you to have your feet tended to by the doctors. They are your responsibility and you will be docked 30 minutes penalty for each foot care visit. I totally agree with them to be honest. I have going to tape up my feet with Leukotape as usual, and use Bodyglide to lubricate. The Friar's balsam is both an adhesive for the tape and also a disinfectant. A small pair if scissors is essential for the neat binding of feet with tape. I have approx 8 hollow sterile needles which can be inserted and will drain any blisters, then a dozen Compeed blister plasters of various sizes.

Apart from lightweight cooking equipment, that's it. No non-essentials. No extra clothes, no MP3 player etc. I've been as brutal as I could with the packing, only sacrificing a little extra weight for sleeping comfort.

Finally, this is my menu for the week. This first lot will be packed in by rucksack at the start - Food for day 1 and 2, and everything up to and covering the run on day 3.

The rest below will be packed into a lightweight bag, and handed to the organisers. The bag will be returned to me at the end of stage 3. It contains rations for the evening of day 3, and everything for the rest of the week. The idea here is that your rucksack is a little lighter at the start. The downside is that it never really goes down much. As soon as it starts to get lighter, it's loaded backup up to max on the start of day 4. This 'drop bag' can only be a maximum of 2 kilo's. Mine is right on the limit at 1986g.

I must carry minimum 2000kcal per day, but I am typically packing just over 2500. This is from experience and knowing 2000 does not fill me after a day’s effort. I am eating a big calorie breakfast of slow burn carbs (oats), the perfect breakfast for ultra running. My evening meals are again all slow burn carbs, mostly rice or pasta. One Rego recovery drink immediately after the days effort, and one Rego Nocte before bedtime to help me sleep and further repair my muscles. It is a very boring menu, but its food that I eat day in and day out. I really do eat oats for breakfast and rice or pasta for virtually every meal at home!

I have some Batchelors pasta or rice meals most nights, with a couple of Mountain house (crème de la crème of dehydrated food) for special treats after the longest days. The Pop Tarts are a very lightweight, high calorie treat, for a desert.

This is a typical days rations, all bagged up, labelled up (in French) with my race number (107). This is then all packed into another larger freezer bag labelled with the day of the week.

My approx pack weight for each day is shown below.

These weights could be slightly out when it comes to the start line, depending on any last minute decisions. Note I have shown the pack weight, but also the pack weight with the 1.5 litre of water that we are handed at the start of each stage. This will empty, only to be replaced approx every 13-17km. If the stage is very hot, we may get given 3 litres though!

I have been training with a 7kg pack (or more) for a while now, so I am happy that I have got the pack to just less than 7kg (with water).

I am only packing either 2 or 3 electrolytes each day. I have read in the MDS people pack 6 or more each day. This is the only real uncertainty for me. 2 or 3 have been ample in the UK, but France will be a lot hotter. I only plan to mix every other checkpoints water with electrolyte. Also, bear in mind I am carrying Endurolyte capsules with me, 2 per hour. I hope this will prove to be a good strategy. If not, at least I will learn a lesson the hard way for next years MDS!

My fully packed Raidlight pack is shown below. The second shot shows the front-pack with a 1.5l bottle of water in situe.

If anyone has any comments to make, or thinks I am making any terrible mistakes in my equipment or food please email me before Friday, from my profile link!

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