I’ve signed up for Ultra Trail Australia… What happens next?
Posted: Nov 16 2018
So, you’ve signed up for UTA (congratulations) that’s step one in the bag!
You decide to look a little further into what you’ve actually got yourself into and come across the ‘mandatory gear list’… questions start running through your head, what is a space blanket? How do I know if my rain jacket is fully seam sealed and has a 10K/10K rating.. And where am I meant to find all this stuff?
Well, we’re here to help. We’ve worked with this event from day one and know the in’s and out’s. This is a little gear guide with some recommendations, tips & tricks on how to set yourself up for one of the best day’s of your life.
Let’s start from the top – we’ll go through the list for 100km event. If you’re doing the 50km or 22km you’ll only part of the list.
- Long Sleeve Thermal Top (Polypropylene, Wool)
The one you used on your skiing trip in 2005 will most likely tick the box here. We recommend getting a set that has the material clearly marked on the label, it makes checking your gear much easier and you wont have to argue with the official who’s asked to take a look on race day.
Polypropylene, polyester and chlorofibre are examples of synthetic materials that will all pass as a thermal top. We do Le Bent’s Wool/Bamboo blend in-store that has been put to the test over the past few years and works an absolute treat.
- Long Leg Thermal Pants (polypropylene, wool)
Exact same as your Long Sleeve Thermal Top.
- Waterproof and Breathable Jacket with Fully Taped (Not Critically Taped) waterproof seams and hood.
This is one of the items we recommend getting yourself a decent one. It’s likely that you’ll use this during your training for UTA, on race day or casually before and after. The nicest jackets for trail runners have the perfect blend of being lightweight and waterproof. Not to mention they pack down to the size of your fist!
- Beanie, Balaclava or Head Sock (Buff)
Pretty much everyone has a beanie and yes it’s ticks the box. But, a head sock or ‘buff’ is a much more versatile item. Around the head, neck or wrist as a sweat band. They’re super lightweight and pack into nothing. If you’re doing the 50km or 100km (and sometimes the 22km) it can be cold when you start. In the past most runners will have their warmer items on for the first few km until they warm up. Keep this in mind.
- Full-fingered Lightweight Gloves (Polypropylene, Wool)
Similar scenario to the thermal top and pants. Get yourself a lightweight set, they are also nice to have if you train through winter.
- High-Visibility Safety Vest with ‘AS/NZA 4602:1999 – D/N Class for Day and Night Time Wear.
This one has been known to catch people out. There’s no need to get a fancy vest, hit up your local hardware store and grab a general vest. Just make sure the standards are clearly marked on the label and whatever you do, don’t cut the label off. Go up a size so that it fits over you and your pack.
We all love running in the day time.. So why not get a head torch that let’s that happen. As you venture out of CP5 into the darkness the last thing you want is a weak head torch that only lights up 5m in front of you. We do a range of Petzl in-store and they’re top quality and price - once again ask our staff what they would recommend and what fits in your price range.
- Small Backup Light
Almost any little torch ticks the box here. Just ask yourself if you would be comfortable using it to guide you through the night at UTA.
- Mobile Phone
Enough said. We all have one… It could be a good idea to drop a portable charger in one of your drop bags just in case you need some juice throughout the day.
Anything with a magnetic north. If you have a GPS watch with a compass function this will also pass the test.
You’ll find one of these included with most running vests. If you don’t have one already grab one without a ball so it works in wet weather.
- Emergency Space Blanket
You’ll find one of these included with most running vests. If it's not with your vest they can be picked up from your local chemist.
- Compression Bandage (Minimum 7.5cm Wide X 2.3m Long Unstretched).
Go to your local pharmacy and pick one of these up. Leave this one all packaged up and displaying the dimensions on the wrapper. Once again this will help you save time on the day should someone ask to see it.
- Lightweight Dry Sack
Grab yourself a little dry sack or use a bunch of ziplock bags. These work perfectly and they’re in your kitchen cupboard already.
- Water Bottles or Bladders, 2 Litre Capacity
You need a minimum of 2 litre's and trust me, you'll want all that. Depending on the vest you have or end up getting will influence what we recommend.
We find the perfect setup is a 1.5L bladder for water and 2 x 500ml soft flasks in the front of your vest for fuel/electrolyte.
- Food Bars / Portions
Your obviously not going to undertake something like UTA without some fuel to get you through. Chat to our staff or someone who has done it before and gets some tips for what to aim for/expect. Nutrition is very different for everyone, don’t leave it till 2 weeks before to start trying gels. Get onto it early and start experimenting to find out what works for you.
- Ziplock Bag for Personal Rubbish
Get yourself plenty of these. They come in handy when packing you vest for the big dance.
- Waterproof Map Case
We recommend using a larger zip lock bag here.
- Long Leg Waterproof Pants (ONLY NEEDED IF THE WEATHER IS LOOKING WET).
We do a few different types in-store. Some super lightweight, fully taped pants that will pack nice and small and take up hardly any room. The other option is a little heavier, no taping and is just to tick the box.
- 100-Weight (Minimum) Long Sleeve Synthetic Fleece Top (IF WET WEATHER IS PREDICTED THIS WILL NEED TO BE PACKED THE WHOLE TIME, IF GOOD WEATHER IT WILL BE NEEDED FROM CP4 OR CP5).
Once again, getting a good quality fleece will help you save a lot of room when packing your vest. Some of the cheaper fleece’s are a lot thicker/heavier than necessary.
If the weather is looking wet you’ll be trying to save weight and room wherever possible.
- Running Vest (Pack)
Arguably the third most important piece of kit after your running shoes and socks. The current range of running vests in-store from the likes of Salomon, Ultimate Direction and Nathan will hopefully make life a little easier and more comfortable on the trails.
A good vest will often include a space blanket, whistle and 2 x 500ml Soft Flasks. If possible try a few on and compare them, the fits differ a lot from brand to brand. If you’re not in the position to try a vest on shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk you through it.
- Collapsible Cup
UTA is a plastic cup free event since 2018. If you’re planning on drinking water/coke/electrolyte at any of the aid stations you’ll need to have a little cup with you.
- Trail Running Poles
It’s becoming more and more common to use poles for this event. We recommend putting them in your drop bag for CP5 and using them for the final 22km home. By then the legs are tired and using your upper body makes a big difference. Finish Strong!
Body Glide is the most common and easy to find. There’s a few different types but the OG goes on as a balm and dries quickly. Highly recommend if your prone to chafing or if you’re not sure. Don’t get caught out.
Grab a sports one. The last thing you want is a small brain snap and rubbing in some sunscreen to your forehead only to have it run all through your eyes 5 mins later. I learned this lesson the hard way.
Get yourself something breathable and lightweight with mesh panelling on top. Visors are great but the problem is the top of your head will be getting sun all day long.
- Spare Socks
Putting on a fresh pare of socks at CP5 is almost as good as finishing the race. I’m not talking your $2 bonds sock either. Chat to one of our team and try out a good quality running sock. There’s plenty out there and it can be a confusing topic, our staff have tried them all and can point you in the right direction.
- Spare Batteries for Head Torch
Good to have a set tucked away in your pack somewhere.