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The Unspoken Rules of Being a Badass: A Runner's Guide

10 Things to Remember in your Ultra Marathon Drop Bag

Most ultra marathons offer the option of leaving a ‘Drop Bag’ at various points along the course.  This offers runners the opportunity to have needed items available throughout the race.

Drop bags can be anything from a clear plastic bin to a plastic bag to a duffle bag.  Since most races will specifically dictate what is or isn‘t allowed, be sure to check your race website.

As for which is best, my personal preference is a clear plastic container, about the size of a shoebox,  that allows you to easily find what you‘re looking for. What you’ll need to pack depends largely on the race distance, the layout of the course, and the offerings at aid stations.

While the following is a list of suggested items to pack, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have so much ‘stuff’ that you spend a lot of time rifling through your bag to find what you need.

Also, make sure that the things you need are placed at the appropriate aid stations.  For example, if you’re packing a headlamp in a race bag, you’ll want to make sure that it will be at the aid station you’ll pass as it’s getting dark.  Likewise, suncreen won’t do you much good at night.

Most of all, remember that someone is kind enough to haul your ‘necessities’ to the aid station so that you’ll have what you need so DO NOT OVERPACK.  Happy Trails…

Fuel:  (Gels, Energy Bars, Electrolyte tablets) Although most ultra marathons offer a standard fare of sweet and salty snacks, you will want to make sure you have plenty of what your body is used to.  I find that cutting energy bars into bite sized pieces and putting them in a Ziploc works for me.

Extra shoes:  Especially for ultras of 50 miles or more, you may want to consider having an extra pair of shoes.  You may also want to consider making sure that your ‘spare pair’ is at least a half size larger since your feet will most likely swell.

Extra Socks:  Dry feet are happy feet.  Period.

Extra Clothes:  Know your race.  Check the weather forecast and be prepared.  If there’s a chance of rain, pack a light water-proof jacket.  If it’s a scorcher, getting out of sweaty clothes before the sun goes down will help with chills.  Temps in some races can vary 30-40 degrees between day and night so be prepared.

BodyGlide:  Whether you prefer Glide, Vaseline, Desitin Clear, or some other goo, you’ll want something on hand in case chaffing becomes an issue.  This should be in EVERY drop bag.

Blister Kit: You can buy these or make your own.  Basically, you need a sterilized needle and a bandage.  Frankly, I like duct tape as well or better than any type of band-aid I’ve tried.  If you run far enough, you WILL have a blister.  Use the needle to relieve the pressure, cover tightly with your bandage of choice and move on.  Just make sure you store the needle so that it won’t ‘poke’ you while you’re looking though your bag.

Sunscreen:  As you sweat (or go through water crossings if you’re lucky) you’ll want to re-apply.  You’ll most likely hurt in enough places when the race is over that you won’t need a sunburn to remind you of your accomplishment.

Headlamp (and extra batteries):  Obviously, you won’t need this for most 50K’s but for longer races such as 100 milers, a headlamp is your best friend.

Bug Spray:  I include this for personal reasons after running 50 miles at Ouachita and swatting horseflies for hours.  Likewise, you will find that a battle against mosquitoes is one you won’t win.

Small pack baby wipes: All I can say is that a clean ___ is a happy ___.  Fill in the blanks as you wish.  You can never go wrong with baby wipes.

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