Well, if you are reading this you are probably a few days or a few weeks from your first or next Ultra Beast. Most likely, you are past the “What the Hell did I sign up for?” phase and moved into the “How do I ensure my survival?” phase. This is perfectly a natural thing. Just remember, we sign death waivers for fun; you have this inside you! When I decided to tackle Killington, it admittedly was on a whim when I committed to it. I was so focused on my hill work and distance running that I did very little thinking about the gear I need, aside from the basics Spartan said was required of me. Let’s detail some of those things that will help keep you moving forward, help you hold your pace to meet your time cut offs, and help to make sure that you not medically DNF.
This is always going to be a personal choice depending on your particular comfort levels, but unless you’re running through the Texas desert, and maybe even then, I recommend full length leggings from either Athletics8 or the XTG Guard Leggings that will be released shortly. The reason for these individual recommendations is that they are of a higher quality, and simply better for a 26.2 to 35 mile length OCR. That means a greater level of support to keep you from cramping, getting stiff, and protection when running up and down a mountain or rocky barbed wire crawl.
A solid water wicking compression top would be ideal, if its extra cold and you know there is no water, a Cold Gear top is a solid idea. If you know
you will get soaked, go with the one that will hold the least amount of water… you’ll thank me.
A little Killington hack I learned; one racer brought 2 trash bags and wore them during the primary ascent. The plastics kept him nice and warm, then he could rip them off into the first trash can he saw; he knew his pace would keep him warm. I’ve fooled around with it in training scenarios and I will do this the next time I make a go at Killington or Tahoe. It may not look sexy, but I’d rather be warm and moving then curled up in a ball freezing.
Also, at a minimum, I will pack a change of socks, if not a second pair of shoes, your feet and core body temperature will thank you greatly when you start your second lap.
Everyone has their own dietary standards, so this is a guideline, but the idea is simply protein, slow digesting fats and carbs. I went with 3 cups of egg whites and 2 cups of plain oatmeal about two hours before the race. 40 minutes out I will take some BeetElite with a Scoop of Karbolyn or a Bottle of Pedialyte fast acting Nitrates with fast acting Carbs and Electrolytes. I repeat this at the half way spot along with refilling my Camelbak Baja or the Hydration Pack of your choosing. On the course I bring 3 GU’s and 1 Powerbar or BeardTM bar to power me on the course, I refill my pack for lap 2 with the same. I admittedly go light on mid race food because my system seems to respond better. You may want to double your fuel especially if you go lighter on breakfast and/or your week before fuel loading.
In addition to the required items list by Spartan, I would recommend two additional items: a survival blanket in case the cold becomes just too much, this can hit at anytime especially if you are dehydrated, and the XTG Gear Obstacle Sleeves, they make both arm sleeves/guards and knee sleeves/guards. If you buy their leggings these pads will be built in so you’ll just need the arm sleeves. After having to walk half of the Killington UB (after being at the front of pack), I heavily recommend these. As I reflect on what happened, I am not sure if it was a single knee impact or the cumulative affect of the crawls and trying to be chivalrous going wrong, but these pads would have saved me a lot of pain and have been ridiculously helpful so far this season as I’ve hit the ground with reckless abandon… without a scratch. I cannot speak highly enough of how I feel about the XTG Gear products.
This again is a very personal choice, but out of all the shoes I have tried, there are only 2 brands that I can say I would recommend for an Ultra Beast. That is the Inov-8 X-Talon Line and the Icebug Zeals and Acceleritas. Yes, I may have a shoe problem, but I have quickly learned that the right shoe can make all the difference. For example, if you know you are going to swim or are going through a lot of water, then drainage is incredibly important both for body temperature and for weight. If they don’t drain, might as well run with bricks on your feet, they’ll be lighter. For that reason, I would recommend the X-Talon 200 or the Zeals, the 200’s have a little more cushion, the Zeals less water; both have great traction to keep you sturdy on your feet. If you are more minimalist, the Zeals are for you; require more cushion, the 200’s or Acceleritas are for you. You can check out our reviews on all 4 of these shoes on OCRAddict.com (coming soon)
All these items are what you find me on mountainside with. Each product is extremely effective for me, in application. Everyone may have their own personal tweak here and there, but you need the basics to go after a race like this, fats and carbs for fuel before and during. The proper clothing to allow you to perform and stay as warm as possible. A way to keep your joints and physically weak spots protected and moving in regular working order. As well making sure your feet can carry you where ever you ask them. You can find reviews for all these products on OCRAddict.com or by messaging us on through the War Paint Waldo athlete page or our main page on Facebook. Good luck to you all, embrace the suck and get that medal AROO!
This checklist is by no means the be-all-end-all of checklists for the Ultra Beast, but these are things that we certainly think you should have, or at the least, consider. It may be a good idea to check this article on a regular bases as we will be revising this checklist regularly.