Mauna to Mauna Ultra

Dialing in your gear for your self-supported stage race

Written by Jax Mariash

Hey folks,

Wonder Woman Jax here with some tips about the daunting task of dialing in your race pack for a self-supported stage race. The thought of carrying everything you need to survive on your back for 7 days is scary. Let alone taking on 150-171 miles in rugged terrain and in aggressive temperatures.

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Here are a few tips to get you started on dialing in that pack. We will use the G2G ultra for an example, since most on here are preparing for that. If it is your first time, or you are a veteran, there is always a tip to pick up.

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My goal for a stage race is to be at a maximum of 7.25 Kilos (16 pounds) before water. 7-8lbs of food. Note that your full water bottles will add 3lbs. I literally spend a full day before a race weighing out every single item in my bag. I start with every luxury item I could dream of, and then usually cut out about half of them by race day.

For your pack, this is the first item to dial in. Most races require a 20-25L pack and in my opinion, you will use every bit of room. Pocket placement, how it sits on your body and where compartments are will be the key elements to dial in for yourself. I would suggest to buy a few different packs to try on your body and then return what doesn’t fit. I would get this item a few months out from your race. Popular packs are made by Ultimate Direction, Raid Light, OMM, and WAA Ultra. I am designing one as well with Camelbak right now. Once you have it dialed for your body, cut the straps down to the minimum amounts you need. Literally, cut off any extra weight that is on there. This sounds silly, but every gram adds up.

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For these races, having your bottles up front is essential. It looks hilarious, but you will look just as cool as everyone else with your straws bouncing around on either side of you while you run. At the end of the day the function they provide is stellar and it makes it extremely easy to drink and to refill water at checkpoints. Practice on many runs ahead of time to make sure your straws are cut down to exactly where you want them. Popular bottles can be found from Ultimate Direction, WAA, Raid Light and I use soft flasks from Camelbak.

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Required equipment varies among race series. Basically, the rule of thumb here is to find the absolute lightest versions of everything they are asking you to carry. For example, you need two headlamps and two spare batteries for G2G. Bring one big one you plan to use and a spare that is a spare and tiny. Utilize a system that has the same battery source. Compass, whistle etc, find the lightest ones on the market. Weight is critical and you will want that extra weight for food.

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There will be required pieces and then there is luxury clothing. I always bring 3 pairs of socks. They just get gross out there and a fresh pair is worth the weight and staying blister free. As a lady I bring two pairs of underwear. It is just nice out there. Then, I have a race outfit and an afternoon outfit. This allows me to get to camp each day and change out of my smelly gross clothes and put on another outfit to relax in. It usually is compression tights, shirt, long sleeve puffy. Then the shirt I usually wear on the last day running to the finish as it won’t smell as bad when friends greet you.

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Food is very personal on how much and what items. General rule of thumb is to try to keep it at around 7-9lbs. You will eat it all off and then the last day will feel very light. Again, it is a trick of finding foods with a high calorie per gram ratio. I tend to sacrifice a little on my running food because there are just certain foods I am used to eating while running. Other than that, it is a combination of nuts, freeze dried meals, and snacks that are all my favorites at a high calorie per gram system. I tend to eat the same thing every day as well. Then I add in some treats. Like 14 sweedish fish (2 per day) to savor and blow a little weight on. It is important to make sure for your body weight, and if you are male or female how low to go to the minimum. Then add in the distance, altitude, and temperature to figure out the rest. I am 5’10’’ and 145lbs. I typically take 2,100 calories per day. For G2G I took 2,500 and would have been better off taking 2,600. This is due to it being about 20 miles longer than the other races I had done and also from the altitude being higher. This is very personal. If you just go for the minimum, you will be screwed. I believe the minimum is only good for someone that is 5’2’’ and 115lbs and is a lady. Less pounds are not worth it if you are bonking. It could ruin your race. Once you figure out your system, then reduce the weight with consolidating packaging. I also bring instant coffee for each day to enjoy and 1 packet of hot cocoa on a night that I really need it.

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Once you have dialed in your main gear, food and required items, the world of luxury items comes aboard. This is everything from your phone, battery pack, therapy ball, ipod and headphones, body glide, KT Tape, sleeping pad etc. I have certain items I never go without. Those are a therapy ball, sleeping pad, and my ipod. I always bring music and just listen until the ipod dies. Some races I have brought flip flops or hotel sandals and others I have just used my dirty shoes. At the end of the day, this category is one you really need to ask yourself if the weight of an item will really help your performance. If it will, then bring it.

At the end of the day, your pack is very personal and is what you need to pack to be successful. I would pack it a month in advance exactly how you want it and then start running with it a couple times a week. This will help to develop the correct load on your back, strengthen your run and also work any kinks out.

Enjoy the journey and all of the people turning their heads as you run by with 16lbs on your back around town.

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