Quick roundup of the gear that helped me finish the 2017 Rocky Raccoon 100.
Topo Athletic Ultrafly
The Ultrafly worked well for me at last year’s Javelina Jundred, and I’m happy to report they performed flawlessly on the rooty trails and hard-packed jeep roads of Huntsville State Park too. The 5mm drop Ultrafly has plenty of cushion without feeling bulky, and the roomy toe box kept my toes happy all day long. You can read more about the award-winning Ultrafly at topoathletic.com, and don’t forget to use code TOPOSPEIRS20 to save 20% on your first order.
Injinji Mini-Crew Trail 2.0
Easily my favorite socks from Injinji, and yet again I was able to cover 100 miles with zero blisters or hotspots. Coupled with the Topo Athletic Ultrafly, the Trail 2.0 provides the best fit, feel and protection imaginable. I’d packed an additional 3 pairs of socks “just in case”, but as is typical in nearly all Ultras I run nowadays, there was absolutely no need to change socks during the race. Full product details at injinji.com
Patagonia 5″ Strider-Pro (with liner removed)
Super comfortable shorts, with a 5″ inseam and 4 really useful stretchy pockets to hold anything from spare Tailwind Nutrition powder to my new Hydrapak SpeedCup. The built-in brief is fine for shorter events, but for races of 50 miles or more I prefer to cut out the liner and wear SAXX Kinetic boxers instead (see below). Full product details at patagonia.com
SAXX Kinetic Boxer Brief
I’ve found the supportive fit of the Kinetic Boxer to be perfect for longer distance training runs and races. The waistband is comfortable and the patented BallPark Pouch ™ provides friction-free support. Full product details at saxxunderwear.com
Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew
A really versatile baselayer that is just the right weight and super comfortable. The flatlock seams minimize chafing and the thumb loops provide just enough coverage when it’s cold to eliminate the need for gloves. I should probably order a couple more of these baselayers – the one I own gets worn all the time! Full product details at patagonia.com
Ultimate Direction AK 1.0
No longer available from Ultimate Direction, but I just love the original AK vest for the fit, weight and number of pockets available.
2 x 10 oz bottle
Started the race with 2 of the 10 ounce Ultimate Direction bottles in my vest (both containing Tailwind Nutrition), before switching later in the day to a combination of 10 ounce bottle and 20 oz handheld. Full product details at ultimatedirection.com
20 oz Handheld
Probably my most used water bottle – the Ultimate Direction Handy 20. It’s comfortable, really easy to drink from and has a decent stretch pocket if you need to carry keys, cards, cash, gels etc. Full product details at ultimatedirection.com
Rocky Raccoon went “cupless” for the first time this year, meaning aid stations would not provide cups for cold beverages. The innovative SpeedCup is a collapsible cup that was easy to fill and drink from at the aid stations, then pack down quickly to fit inside a shorts pocket. Neat idea, which I’m sure will come in handy at future training runs and races. Full product details at runningwarehouse.com
You can’t have enough buffs in your kit drawer!
Injinji Buff & Tailwind Nutrition Neck Gaiter
I started the race in the cool-looking Original Injinji Full Buff, then switched to the newly-designed Tailwind Nutrition Neck Gaiter for the nighttime miles. Both are super versatile, and can be worn during the summer for sun protection, and the winter for cold and wind protection. Full product details at injinji.com and tailwindnutrition.com
At Javelina Jundred last year I wasn’t overly impressed with the Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp, so for Rocky I decided to shell out some cash for the Petzl Actik – a recently-launched 300 lumen headlamp with an impressive advertised burn time of 60 hours at the brightest setting. The lamp is super bright and easy to use with Petzl’s renowned user-friendly button sequencing, but I have to say I am really disappointed with their battery life claims. I used the Actik for the first 8 miles (less than 75 minutes), then again for about 10 miles (110 minutes) closing out the 4th loop of the race, but by the time I reached the 1st aid station on the final loop (another 45 minutes), the lamp was almost out. Thankfully I was prepared with spare batteries and was able to switch them out at the Nature Trail aid station, but after just another 2 or 3 hours on the trail, the Actik started to dim again. I’ve emailed Petzl and am awaiting a response – 7 hours of use for 2 sets of batteries is pretty ridiculous in my opinion. Full product details at amazon.com
Great little backup that provided just enough extra light when the Actik started to dim (see above). Very portable, and so light you don’t even realise you’re carrying it. A real lifesaver! Full product details at amazon.com
As usual, Tailwind Nutrition was my fuel of choice from start to finish, and for the most part kept me feeling great all day long – my only real “complaint” for the whole race was the inconsistency of the Tailwind mix strength out on the course. I’m used to consuming 2 scoops in 20-24 ounces of water, but at a couple of the aid stations the solution was far from optimal. Thankfully, the small baggies of extra powder in my shorts pocket were useful, and I was able to top up my water bottles to achieve a decent mix. Note to self – it’s cool to have your favorite nutrition at the race, but it’s probably wise not to 100% depend on it. Full product details at tailwindnutrition.com
Suunto Ambit3 Peak
One of the most frustrating aspects of racing 100 milers or taking part in 24-hour events is the typically low battery life on the majority of GPS watches. For this very reason, towards the end of last year I decided to invest in a Suunto Ambit3 Peak with an advertised battery life of 30 hours with 5 second GPS accuracy (1 minute accuracy: 200 hours). Rocky Raccoon was the first real test for the Ambit3, and I’m happy to report, even with the more accurate 1 second recording interval, there was still 5% battery life remaining when I crossed the finish line in 18 hours 46 minutes. This bodes well for my upcoming 24-hour event where the lower 5 second accuracy will be more than sufficient. The only negative of the Ambit3 Peak – a strange rubbing against my wrist bone probably caused by not fully tightening the wristband. Full product details at clevertraining.com
Squirrel’s Nut Butter
So glad I found Squirrel’s Nut Butter last year! The multi-purpose anti-chafe product works flawlessly and it’s so nice to not have to worry about rubbing, hotspots and the like when training and competing. Highly recommended! Full product details at squirrelsnutbutter.com
Addaday Uno Massage Roller
I’m a big fan of Addaday products for day-to-day recovery, but the Uno provided a quick and easy solution to get my glutes firing at the end of each 20 mile loop during the race. The Uno is less than 9″ long, but so, so effective. Full product details at addaday.com
Let me know if you have any questions about any of the products listed above, and if you have any favorites that you think I’d be interested in, feel free to leave a comment in the box below.