What to Bring on a Trip to the Sahara

I received an email from the organizers of the race, Racing the Planet, with a final equipment list of what we must absolutely carry with us at the start of the race.  If you don’t have all of the items on the list, there is a good chance they will not let you compete.  Imagine flying to Egypt and forgetting your whistle?!  Let’s hope this doesn’t happen to me.  Here is a look at what is on the list:

  • Backpack (Able to hold 25 – 30L)
  • Sleeping back with a minimum requirement of protection down to 50 degrees
  • Headlamp and back-up light (which can be a second headlamp)
  • Compass (Hopefully this will not need to be used)
  • 20 safety pins to attach your country’s flag along with other emblems
  • Multi-tool appliance such as a Swiss Army Knife
  • Whistle
  • Survival Blanket
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Sunscreen
  • Blister Kit
  • Alcohol Gel
  • Red Flashing Light for night running
  • Lightweight Jacket
  • Shorts/Tights
  • 2 T-shirts
  • Road or Trail Running Shoes (I am leaning towards trail runners)
  • Sunglasses
  • Nationality Patches
  • 7 Day Food Supply totally a minimum of 14,000 calories (I will be bringing more calories than this)
  • Electrolytes supply such as salt capsules

There are a number of other items that aren’t mandatory but must be brought, like 7 pairs of socks,  eating utensils, etc., so all of the above equals out to about 20 lbs to start the race.  There is not really one thing that weighs more than the rest, which should help to keep my pack balanced and the weight distributed evenly.   I have been using Nuun tablets (http://nuun.com/) for hydration and will continue to use them during the race.  The great thing about Nuun is that it provides all of the electrolytes of Gatorade but without any of the added sugar.  What I found was that while consuming Gatorade on long runs, I would see peaks and lulls in my energy level from all of the sugar.  While it gave me an added boost to start, it really brought me down both mentally and physically once that energy boost was gone.  Another great product I will be putting in my pack for the race is Hammer Perpetuem (http://www.hammernutrition.com/products/perpetuem.pp.html)  This boasts a unique carb to protein formula which also keeps your energy level stable and consistent over a long period of time.   And of course one of the most vital things to such a long run is the recovery drink.  Right now I am using Endurox R4 which actually tastes delicious (http://www.accelsport.com/product-info/EnduroxR4.html)  I have also heard great things about Hammer Recoverite (http://www.hammernutrition.com/products/recoverite.rr.html) , but think I am going to stick with the Endurox since I have had success with it.  And one of the final things that will come with me to the Sahara is probably the most stylish.  Check out these bad boys:

These are gaiters which are designed to keep sand out of your sneakers throughout the race.  Sand is one of the main enemies in this race besides the distance and heat, and without the gaiters, sand will pour into your sneaks and can cause significant blister damage to your feet, which could be serious enough for you to drop out of the race.  These may be the most important piece of all, and definitely the whitest. 

Drop me a line and let me know if I am forgetting anything!

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