The first-ever World Ultrarunning Day will take place on 1 May 2021, and coincides with this year’s (virtual) ULTRA festival. Join the UK’s record-breaking ultrarunner, Damian Hall, who will help kick off an ultrarunning challenge to unite long-distance runners across the world with a goal to collectively run the equivalent distance of a circumnavigation of the globe throughout the next 12 months.
As this year’s version of Ultra festival has gone virtual, the best way to get involved with this challenge is to join the Strava group and start logging the miles. The virtual festival will include talks and panel discussions with ultrarunners from around the world, including Damian Hall, Sabrina Verjee, the legendary Bruce Fordyce and sport reporter and broadcaster Vassos Alexander. All proceeds will go to the Chris Lewis Support Fund – the Patterdale Mountain Rescue volunteer who was critically injured whilst out on a rescue.
What kit do I need for an ultrarunning event?
Big miles mean big preparations, though an ultra run is at is essence about mental and physical endurance, you can make your life a whole lot easier by having the right kit and tools for the challenge. Here are our top ten essential pieces of gear to go the distance:
- A durable and comfy pair of long-distance runners – most ultra runs are off-road to reduce impact and keep things interesting, as well as often more challenging and hilly. So a quality pair of trail running shoes is one of the most necessary pieces of kit you will invest in, and it is often quite the investment. We’ve come up with 11 of our top trail and off-roading shoes for men and women, but it is important to remember to shop specific to your foot geometry, the level of cushioning and stack height you’re used to, it’s never a one-size-fits all when it comes to picking your ultra shoe!
- Running GPS watch – because if you didn’t record it, did it really happen? With so many watches on the market now, it is tricky to decide what model to go for. So consider what your priorities are and your budget. If you’re also a multisport athlete, go for a watch with lots of activity options. If you’re into all the performance stats, pick an option with the latest technology that can provide stats on heart-rate, sleep cycle, elevation, foot turn-over and much more. Confused? We’ve got you covered, take a look at our round up of our best five multisport watches.
- Hydration and snack storage – This is a biggie for long events, having your own pack means that you can be a lot more self-sufficient when you’re racing and you’ll be able to tailor your race experience more to how you’re feeling and your individual needs as the race progresses. As we’re talking mega endurance, pick a hydration pack that has at least 1L water capacity (with scope for more), with plenty of stuff pockets for bars and gels, as well as zip pockets for the essentials.
- First aid kit – These days, lots of adventure races insist on competitors carrying their own first aid supplies, which is where lifesystems.co.uk come in, with some compact, lightweight solutions to staying safe on the trail. You can pop one of these waterproof kits into a pocket and rest assured that you’ll be prepared for any minor mishaps – ensure you pick a pack with ample blister plasters!
- Extra layer/emergency blanket – Along the vein of safety, an extra layer to keep you warm in case of extreme race-ending mishaps occurring may be a prerequisite to your race-day gear list. This could be in the form of a light but insulating jacket, or a compact emergency blanket you can snuggle into as you wait for help to reach you.
- Run shorts – sounds simple, but a comfy, non-chafing pair of running shorts will feel like a godsend when you’re out on the trails. Choose a pair that has ventilation in the form of mesh panelling, and quick-drying materials, like one of our top three run shorts. If you’re prone to a big of thigh chafe, then pick a pair that is slightly longer or go for run tights, to protect against any discomfort.
- Run top – go for a top that has long enough sleeves to avoid that uncomfortable airpit chafe, and is airy enough to feel light on the skin. We’ve round up our top three run tops designed to wick away sweat and stay comfortable on even the longest of summer runs.
- Compression ware – your knight in shining armour and the holy grail when it comes to surviving endurance feats: compress, compress, compress. A tight, supportive and quality pair of calf compression sleeves will become your best friend on the trail, especially as the distance starts to rack up. We loved 2XU‘s range. Many runners also swear by a pair of arm sleeves, not only do they compress, but they also provide coverage from the sun and an extra layer for warmth when night draws in.
- Running visor – keep the sweat from your eyes and protect your face from the sun, with a well-fitting running visor or hat. Especially useful for races in hot climes, you won’t want to be without some sun protection and sometimes just a pair of sunnies doesn’t cut it. This lightweight visor from Salomon ticks all the boxes. Here are 3 of the best run hats and caps as well
- Nutrition – how well you execute your fuelling strategy on race day is of extreme importance, for many, it will mean the difference between a finish and a DNF. So it’s important that you get used to what nutrition your body responds well to, practice timing your intake of slow-release and fast-release carbs on the run (easier said than done), and calculate just how much fluid you should be taking on board, including the all-important added electrolytes that you’ll lose as you sweat. Pinning down your refuelling strategy is like training a whole new discipline in itself, and should be respected as such. We’ve reviewed a range of energy gels and bars for you, and given our honest feedback and insight into the science behind their ingredients, so take a look and make an educated decision on what may work for you. Sweat testing is also worth considering as it will analyse how much you sweat and what you lose and need to replace.