Quick roundup of the gear that helped me finish the 2017 South Downs Way 100.
All Centurion Running events feature a mandatory gear list, with the goal of ensuring the safety of runners during their events. With the exception of the primary and backup light source (only required from Mile 54 onwards), each of the items listed below had to be carried from the start of the race right through to the finish line, with the threat of a one hour time penalty for any item found to be missing at any point on course.
Waterproof Jacket (minimum 10000 mm+ & must have sealed seams) – Salomon Bonatti
By far my favorite jacket for inclement weather, the Salomon Bonatti met all mandatory kit requirements and was easily stowed in my Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set Pack. Not used during the race, but highly recommended! Full product details at amazon.com
Water Bottles capable of carrying a minimum of 1 litre – Salomon Soft Flask Speed
The newly designed soft flasks from Salomon feature a larger cap that closes with 1/4 turn, making for quicker refills and less-messy Tailwind Nutrition powder topups! Also, the new dome-shaped plastic base makes sliding the flask into the hydration pack pocket a breeze. I did experience some friction-rubbing in the last 20 miles of the race, but other than that the bottles were excellent and a big hit with the checkpoint volunteers. Full product details at amazon.com.
Headlamp or Primary Light Source – Petzl Actik
Carried the Actik in my Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Vest right from the start, but only used it for a couple of miles in the latter stages of the race. Full product details at amazon.com
Backup Light source (minimum 25 Lumens) – Petzl e-LITE
Great little backup light that thankfully wasn’t required. Very portable, so light you don’t even realise you’re carrying it, and potentially a real lifesaver if your primary light source fails! Full product details at amazon.com
Base layer or fleece top – Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew
A really versatile base layer 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. Full product details at patagonia.com
Soft Cup – Hydrapak SpeedCup
The South Downs Way 100 is a “cupless” event, meaning aid stations/checkpoints don’t provide cups for hot or cold beverages. The innovative SpeedCup is a collapsible cup that was easy to fill and drink from at the checkpoints, then pack down quickly to fit inside a shorts pocket. Neat idea, which will come in handy at future training runs and races. Full product details at amazon.com
A basic whistle was included with my Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Vest. Didn’t need to use it during the race, but nice to know it was there if required.
Another piece of kit that wasn’t needed during the race, but if the weather had turned nasty the foil blanket would have been critical. Plenty of choice at amazon.com
Topo Athletic Ultrafly
The Ultrafly worked well for me at both the 2016 Javelina Jundred and 2017 Rocky Raccoon 100, and I’m happy to report they performed flawlessly on the open grassland, woodland single/ double track, crushed gravel/ dirt road and paved roads along the South Downs Way 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 TOPOSPEIRS10 to save 10% 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
Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set Pack
New for 2017, the super-comfortable Sense Ultra 8 Set Pack carried all the mandatory kit, spare fuel, Squirrel’s Nut Butter and other bits and pieces with bags of room to spare. Pre-race I experimented with several different options for gear carrying, but settled on the Salomon pack due to its comfort, fit, weight (or lack of it) and numerous pocket and compartment options. Full details at amazon.com
As usual, Tailwind Nutrition was my fuel of choice from start to finish, and kept me feeling great all day long. Added bonus – Tailwind was the chosen on-course fuel by Centurion Running, which meant I only needed to carry several emergency baggies of powder in case any of the checkpoints ran out of fuel. As far as I know, they didn’t. 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). Full product details at amazon.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 and don’t forget to use code SNB20OFF to save 20% off your first SNB order.
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.