The ‘slow, fat and last’ gear guide to a 100 mile race.

Last October I completed the Javelina Jundred 100 mile endurance run out in the McDowell Mountains east of Phoenix, AZ. The cut-off is 30 hours. I finished in 29:17. Here I am crossing the finish line. You can see the joy in my face.

A lot of first time questions I see on running forums and groups focused on ultras are around equipment. With the obvious disclosures that everyone is different, your experience may vary, never try something new on race day and to that end, everything falls apart after 28+ hours running no matter what, here are some recommendations if you’re a novice.

First some race logistics. Since this is a loop race, you get to return to your ‘home base’ of crew operations every 20 miles or so. For me what means every 5-6 hours. In between were 3 well stocked aid stations. But at home base you could load up on lots of options and make a real time choice.

With respect to equipment:

  1. My biggest mistake was in footwear. I was planning for desert hardpack and should have been wearing formidable soles because the trail had miles of small, sharp rock shards that tore through my Nike Free RN Flyknit running shoes. I ran Trans Rockies in Saucony Peregrine 7 Trail Running Shoes without any foot problems, and that had some gnarly trails. That would have made a world of difference since I had blisters within 2 hours and no backup plan. Stupid.
  2. My pack was a Nathan Marathon Hydration Vest. I’ve never had any problem with it. Can’t find the specific model, but I recommend the brand.
  3. My watch was a Garmin Fenix 5 with the settings configured to maximize battery life. While the result was it tracked me at 116 miles, it stayed alive and I was mostly concerned about the time because you knew your distance based on aid stations. It’s an expensive watch. Sorry.
  4. I use Run Forever calf sleeves. No idea if these help. It could be all in my head. But I like the feeling.
  5. At the recommendation of a friend (and yes against rules) I bought and used for the first time some ShinyMod arm sleeves.  Good for keeping the sun off you, but also for putting ice into. Also the colors matched the Halloween theme. Speaking of, make sure you have a bandana for ice.
  6. I don’t wear compression shorts. I let the boys breath. And cover them (and nipples and waist) with a combination of traditional Body Glide and vaseline. The double layer has always served me right, though I am already fixed so any real damage might not be important.
  7. If you need help on choosing shorts or shirts to run in, you might want to reconsider everything.

With respect to nutrition, this is where most races are probably made or broken (though as noted my shoe choice sucked). But I had a plan and mostly stuck to it.

  1. In my hydration vest I only had water. I never put anything that can get moldy in there. So I also wear a waist belt bottle holder (can’t remember the brand and don’t know where it is). This is where I liberally and freely move between traditional Gatorade (liquid, not powder based), Coke, Ginger Ale and a mix of Gatorade and Mountain Dew which I found simply lovely.
  2. Way too often I forego solid nutrition early in ultras and knew that was going to be a death sentence on this. While I had enough Gu Roctane to carry me through 2-3 an hour for the entire race, reality is I only made it through 25 miles (1/4 of the race) or so before my tolerance for Gu went to zero. I always know when that’s happening because I start gagging before I even put it in my mouth.
  3. After 6-7 hours my solid nutrition was firmly set in mandarin oranges I’d pick up at my crew stop, lots of salty chips, peanut M&Ms I carried by the truckload-full, avocado and salted potatoes at the rest steps, and my secret weapon was snack-sized Slim Jims. I have deployed the beef jerky or something like it strategy before, but the Slim Jims were just perfectly easy to put down, had a quick 60 calories or so, great for salt, and generally kept me happy.
  4. Net net, in the goal of hitting 300 calories an hour or so, I’d say 100 came from liquids and the rest mostly from M&Ms, chips and Slim Jims. As noted, if I COULD put it in my mouth at the aid station, I would. But that got pretty limited towards hour 15+. Avocado and salted potatoes.

That’s it. Combined with a willingness to just keep f*cking going for nearly 30 hours,  now I have a little (really, it’s small) belt buckle to show off to my kids, who do not care.

Oh one last thing. Carry wipes. You’re welcome.

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