My Marathon Des Sable Equipment …
Pretty much all of my equipment did what it was meant to and even if I say it myself I did a sterling job of researching , selecting and utilising it all , at least my climbing/kayak expedition experience was good for something out in the Sahara !
You carry everything in your Ruck-Sack over the whole race for the entire 7 days , it has to fit comfortably , all your equipment and food for the week has to fit in it and most importantly it has to be comfortable to run in , I saw serious problems with chafing over there and people taping their shoulders and lower backs to help , it looked nasty !!! make sure this is perfect because the pack you take is second only to your shoes !!
I originally chose a different sack but after Inov8s kind offer to let me test a RacePac 25 with the new design bottle holders and frontpac I just had to use it , this was one savage piece of kit , perfect for the job and came up trumps out there in the desert.
The pack itself gave me zero chafing , even with my starting weight of 9.8kg it was comfortable to run with , its super lightweight but doesn’t give the impression of being weak because of that , the 25 litres was plenty to fit in all my equipment and food , it has very accessible pockets , was tough enough to withstand 7 days of constant abuse including me using it as a pillow every night .
The front pac was perfect, amazing design that didn’t bounce at all , fitted all of my daily requirements with ease and was cool to run in .. 10/10 .The bottle holders from Inov8 are IMHO the PERFECT holder , they don’t bounce , they hold the bottles tight be 500ml or 750ml and are very light weight and adjustable .. PERFECT
My sleeping bag was a Marmot atom which was superlight, compressed to a very small size and was perfectly adequate even in the coldest of the nights.
My Neo Air was amazing, far better than the original thermarests design for smoothing out the ground beneath you , I chose a ¾ design to save weight and size , no need to insulate the bottom of my legs and feet out in the Sahara . When I arrived back at the tent after every stage I would first blow up my Neo Air, then just lay there relaxing until I could be bothered to get up and cook , lovely …
In my sack I kept it real simple , I’ve enough experience to know what I need and what I don’t so I didn’t cart anything around that I didn’t. Venom Pump, Esbit Stove , 600ml titanium pot , SD1 classis Victorinox knife is great and a top choice due to its size and the fact that it has scissors , titanium spork , jet lighter and matches , small first aid kit with painkillers galore, use Doc Trotter for EVERYTHING , ignore the rumours !! light windproof , pack soap for my socks every night , some Wemmi wipes just in case and maybe a small packet of wet wipes for a quick wash of the privates …. That’s all, you really do not need much else.
For clothing I wore a pair of vent shorts, skin tights as I cant be bothered to use sun tan lotion, a skin top with a loose T shirt on top , a buff on my head and a pair of Julbo Glacier Glasses ..
Socks were Injini … but later became Hilly mono skins .. I took 1 pair of each and washed them .
I wore Lycra Gaiters but if I did it again I would definitely wear a Sandbaggers parachute Gaiter as these really did the perfect job.
I took with me Grivel trekking poles , the light weight running ones , perfect , I wasn’t sure whether to take them but they made the dunes so much easier that I would not hesitate to take them again.
Food , this is specific but I used Mountain House breakfast , Evening meal and a Goodness recovery shake every day , I packed Beef Jerky and a couple of Pepperonis for snacks.
The rest of my calories were made up of High five Isotonic lime energy drink , this was perfect during my stage and I didn’t feel I needed anything else , the rest of my fluid intake was water with high five zero electrolyte tabs in it . This did me fine except for a couple of times I used a Peronin sachet on the long day for a more balanced day .
I used 2 Camelbak podium bottles with the performance bite valve / straw lids , these were perfect and held a full 710ml .. it makes a difference
I used my Pentax WS80 waterproof camera , small , light and dustproof .. did a great job
And that’s about everything , it weighed in around 9.8 kg with the bottles full of water , the Inov8 Racepac held it all easy and there were no issues at all with comfort or chafing , weight is very important out there , don’t believe anyone who says different , it’s a long day and a lot of miles.
And that s everything , my one piece of advice that I really want to give is keep it as light as you can , it’s a long long race and you need to be as comfortable as possible ……………