Friday, August 19, 2011

Things You Might Want to Add to you Drop-Bag

The July issue of Ultrarunner had a couple of good articles on drop-bag supplies.  The first article tells about a box the author created with just about everything an ultrarunner could ever need during race.  Your crew keeps it with them and has it available at each "crew accessible" aid station.  Basically it contained a little everything anyone could possibly need.  Probably, most of us do that instinctively anyway.  Marye Jo keeps a backpack with her and brings it to each aid station.  I have extra of just about everything I normally use, electrolyte capsules, NUUN tablets, Perpetuem, socks, tape and so on.

If you have not read the article by Sammy Blende, it is a good idea to look over the list.  It might help you remember something you had forgotten or suggest something that might really come in handy.  One thing that I need to remember to add to my check list is a pair of scissors.  They also mention a magic marker to label anything you put in a baggie to carry with you.  Oh yes, extra baggies.  Another good idea is to put some "real" food in the box, like chips, soup, cookies and a sandwich or two.  I did that in my first ultra but they usually have most of that stuff at aid stations.

The second article in the "Beginners Corner" and written by Gary Dudney really had some good ideas.  Several, I had not thought of I intend to employ during two races I have signed up for in October.
1.  Zip Lock Baggie:  Carry an extra baggie with you when you leave each aid station to put those used, sticky GU packs in.  This is a problem I have dealt with for years.  How many times I have stuck my hand into a pocket to find the sticky "GOO" has leaked out and is now all over my hand.  Lately, I have started sticking the emptied GU containers in a mesh pocket on my hydration vest.  Of course at the end of the run, I have to wash the entire vest.  What a simple solution.  Stick the empty GU pak in the baggie while running and throw the whole thing away at the next aid station.
2.  Throw in a Wash Cloth:  Place a damp wash cloth zipped into a baggie in each drop bag.  He is right, too.  That will be the first thing I reach for at each aid station to wipe off the dirt and sweat.  (Instant Perk-up)
3.  A Dry Shirt:  He suggests putting a dry shirt in every drop bag.  If you think a fresh shirt would feel good, there it is.  It is a good idea to put any articles of clothing in a zip-lock baggie if you are going to leave them at an aid station.  They are usually left outside and if it rains, everything gets wet, including you dry shirt!
4.  Carry a Tiny Flashlight:  This is almost too obvious to mention.  If there is a chance you could still be on the trail after dark, carry a backup flashlight..  When I am running a 100, I put a Fenix DL40 LED light in my pak and carry it with me the entire race.  (This way there is no chance to end up in the dark without a light) So far I have not needed it for myself, but it certainly helped another runner at Tahoe in July.  After leaving Hobart aid station at mile 56 we climbed to the ridge crest and followed it to Tunnel Creed about 6 miles away.  This is where many of the snow fields are located and in the dark they were a little trick to follow.  I noticed a runner in front of me way off the trail on one of the large fields.  I yelled to him that the trail was over here and he came on over a little way behind me, then passed me.  A few minutes later, he had again veered way off to the left of the trail and was looking around.  Again, I directed him to the trail.  This time I noticed his light was very dim.  I was carrying extra AAA batteries for my headlamps, but he needed AA.  We ran along for a while and I remembered my extra light and dug it out of my pak.  He said he had an extra light in his drop bag at the aid station so I told him to just leave it at with one of the volunteers and I would pick it up when I arrived.  We arrived at almost the same time and I he gave back to me.
5.  Carry Extra Batteries:  (My addition to the list) Carrying extra batteries for you light.  Even if you just put new batteries in, they may be old or defective an not last very long.   Put extras in your pak just in case.  There is another reason to carry an extra light, not just extra batteries.  One night in a training run I broke my headlamp.  I was testing several lights so I had others, but if I had not, I would have been in trouble.
6:  Always Carry a Shell:  During the summer I do not carry a shell with me for training runs or races unless thunderstorms are likely.  It just isn't necessary in Alabama.  Spring and Fall are another story.  If there is a chance of rain at all, I will carry a light shell jacket if the temperature is cool.  When you are wet, it doesn't have to be very cold to be really miserable.  One alternative that will work is to cut a hole for your head and arms in a garbage bag.  I did that many times in the 70s and 80s at the start of very cold races.  In the mountains, carry a light jacket all the time.

Do any of you have any ideas that might come in handy in a drop bag?

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