Fifty Shades of Gear

Rewind to a very dark, cold and hideously wet day in December. I needed to kit up for the Marathon Des Sables and rather than do it piecemeal, I decided to bite the bullet and embark on an 11 hour round trip drive from the High Peak to the Brecon Beacons to visit Likeys www.likeys.com

Likeys is famous for being the all seeing, all knowing purveyors of kit for marathons, ultras and running adventures and they have a whole kit list for MdS. It is very difficult when you haven’t done anything remotely like this before, to really understand what is going to be best out on the road in the actual conditions you will face.

Likeys

As I found out from my Tour D’Afrique experience, kit can make you – thank you Dave for my handbuilt and fantastic bike. And break you – no thanks whatsoever to TerraNova and my disastrous sail of a tent!

Martin and Sue, won me over immediately when I arrived cold and weary, by showing me where the loo was and then giving me a nice hot cup of coffee.

Then our five hour marathon together started. Martin whipped out a 7 page list of options and we went through it line by line. I won’t list absolutely everything I bought but if you email me [email protected] or facebook me Alice Out There, I can send it on to you.

But here are my highlights:

  • Compressport veino-muscular compression technology: They are going to hold my calves in check and make me much more energy efficient (well we can but hope!)
  • The Lamborghini of lightweight sleeping bags: The Marmot Plasma 30F/-1C. Very, very cosy.
  • PT750-TI Casserole en Titane: for those delicious dried food dinners.
  • Raidlight gaiters: These hold the sand out. I am a bit worried about them as they seem loose around the ankles, but will try out when we get some dry sand.
  • Venom pump: I thought this was just something we had to have for form’s sake but now that I have seen a snake in the desert, I will definitely take enough time to see how it works.
  • Under Armour long compression tights: Apparently they will do for my aching glutes what the calf guards do for my calves and are to be worn overnight.
  • Innov8 Backpack. This was not a good choice and I am defaulting back to the official Raidlight MdS bag. Need something tighter to my back. It is so impossible to judge by just running round the shop a few times. A lot of the packs seem designed much more with men in mind and do not take account of breasts!
  • The Injinji liner sock worn with Bridgedales over the top: So far, I have loved running in these.
  • Hokas: Controversial but I decided to go for it. I think they warrant a whole blog on their own.

What was really great about going to see Martin and Sue, was the extra advice and the tips based on their own experience of running MdS and other ultras.

Here are just a few of Martin’s words of wisdom:

1. “Mix up your electrolytes, so you get a surprise when you get to refill, it breaks up the monotony.”

2. ” Buy all three sizes of Compeed, you will need them. Don’t go near Doc Trotters unless you are desperate (Doc Trotters is the brutal but efficient foot clinic on the race). If you get a blister, prick it with a needle, squeeze the water and blood out, then put a needle and thread through it and leave both ends of the thread out, so it can drain.”

3. “Tie your knife, mirror, compass, whistle and survival blanket together on a lanyard so they are in one place.”

It took  me all the hours of the drive back to try and digest what I had learned and to try and get my head round the thought of sawing through my own blisters. Whatever the race brings, I am sure I am going into it better prepared, and certainly with a lot more confidence in what I am wearing and carrying. Cheers, Martin!

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