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Geeks guide to kit and running

I tapped this out a few months ago – and got distracted.  A resource for those who do ultra running.


Talk to any ultra runner and at some point the subject of kit will come up, with many evangelical about the product they use. The horrible fact is that getting it wrong can and does end many a ultra runners journey. Here is my my experience.

I had two points in terms of kit on my mind leading up to Howfast.

– My Feet, having organised many events – feet are what end many peoples dreams. There are many ailments

a runner can endure but a simple blister can really put pay to an ambition.

Ice Cream in Borrowdale with Foot Inspection - Photo Ant

Ice Cream in Borrowdale with Foot Inspection – Photo Ant

– Getting cold – my blog is littered with stories of me getting hypothermia. Getting clothing right may not stop me getting hypothermia but it can delay the onset. Most likely this is not the case for you, its something I’m afflicted with.
So lets kick off with the big one..

FEET – the outcome from Howfast is that after 190 miles I didn’t have ONE blister, I had a cracked toe nail from a previous running incident which was slightly painful but on the whole my feet were in top condition.

Credit to a large degree must go to Charlotte part of my support team. She was similarly concerned that my feet would fall apart so regularly (every 6-8hrs) she would check my feet – clean them and apply SUDOCREM.

I got a little OCD about socks – the fancy technical socks seem to rub my feet, so simple was the best and reasonably new. I found that old socks that had been through the washing machine / tumble dryer a number of times were rough on the feet. I had quite a few pairs of Inov8 socks cheap at £12 for two pairs.

On the first day where we crossed some boggy areas I wore sealskinz as well – again effort to keep feet dry. When wet they easily fall apart.

My thinking with feet is they move in your shoes, no matter how tight you pull up your laces (which I pretty much always ended up re-tighting 10 mins after putting shoes on). Hence if they are going to move, having smooth fresh socks and a lubricant like Sudocrem seem to help me avoid blisters.


I had a stack of shoes in the van and wore just 3 pairs. My adidas road shoes (Sequence 5) on first day – I didn’t wear them again, they were OK but my feet didn’t seem to settle in them. I also had Salomon Speedcross on when I crossed nine standards rigg.

The rest of the time I wore one pair of shoes. Hoka Ones Stinson’s – I thought that I purchased the off road ones but I didn’t and they didn’t have great grip. Fortunately on this journey I managed to stay upright all the way across. To think that they took me across the country (without a blister) and that I wanted to put them on each day is a testament to the shoe. Nough said.. well almost, I’ve bought the Mafate for the Lakeland 100 and the Stinson’s are trashed now.

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OK clothes – First of all most of my training had been in pretty awful weather, not once had I done an ultra in shorts and t-shirt. The good weather was unnerving in that some of the kit I was to wear I’d not used for a long outing. As it was it all worked out OK but I did end up changing quite a bit.

I had a bad experience on a previous event, lets just say chaffing. When I looked at my running tights I wore on that event I realised they baubled up – they were fine to wear on an hour or twos run but put them through 14 or 15 hours and things get a little sore.

I checked all my kit and chucked a lot of the old stuff away, managed to get some new running tights from Haglofs – had the full range of shorts / full length and 3/4’s – the 3/4’s were my fave as the weather was mixed.

Pants.. yep need some of them, again plenty of fancy stuff there which are marketed to make you go faster. I use marks and sparks sports briefs – cheap and do the required job. As climbing instructors say, keep the furniture in the front room.

Tops – I feel a bit of an idiot here. I guess I’d always looked at long sleeved tops – simply as that. no doubt my geeky kit mates will put me right. In summary some are designed to keep the heat in and keep you warm (adidas TERREX top) and others are designed to keep you cool (Haglofs Puls top). I quietly nick named my Haglofs top my hypo top as with a cool wind and a hot day wearing it would make me feel like I was having a diabetic Hypo.

So for me the weather over the 4 days really was mixed – in many ways I quite enjoyed that. For jackets I had a thin Haglofs shield – more of a running jacket, not waterproof. I had two Gore Paclite jackets – both XL’s but very different fit. The Haglofs Gram was a tighter fit, whereas the adidas TERREX Active Shell one had a bit more space for extra clothing. Most of the time I wore the adidas one, except on the final day where it was a bit warmer. The Haglofs one is definitely more of lets say an active fit, whereas the adidas jacket in more of an all rounder but I can imagine provides a bit TOO much space and flaps around for many competitors.

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Haglofs Gram Jacket



adidas TERREX Jacket

For me being susceptible to hypothermia, there was often a Haglof Barrier Insulated Jacket (synthentic insulated) jacket in the bag. This came out a few occasions most notably my epic going over kidsty pike – the adidas Jacket fitted over this.

Other bits

The guys carried my Haglofs Gram25 rucksac with a bottle carrier on the front and a large pouch which we put a small VHF radio in. This rucksac was carried throughout the whole journey at the feed stops (very brief quite often just minutes) they would swap water bottles and add a food bag.

In that bag was a Adventure Medical Kits foil survival bag (packs really small), glycogen, insulin injections in case pump broke and blood test kit. More in the next blog on diabetes, food and ultra running.

I also often used my black diamond walking poles – pretty much most of the time. I had both an Inov8 legionnaires cap and I also had an adidas cap. Gloves wise didn’t use any on this trip.

Charlotte would add campervan to the list – complete with a pop up coffin on the top and a stove.
Think that is all – any questions fire away.

My thanks go not only to Haglofs / adidas who provided much of the kit I was wearing but also to Steve / James at Castleberg Outdoors who also helped me with kit for the Howfast project

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