While I’ve been collecting gear over the past 8 months to take on The Gobi March next week, it’s come time to get down and dirty with it. Time to break out the scales to account for every gram. Time to take the scissors to EVERYTHING that is not structurally or functionally necessary. Time to make those final decisions on what to take to eat. Should I take 800 kcals at 3.5 oz or 1000 kcals at 4.2 oz? Every square of toilet paper, every gummy bear, every almond gets weighed and counted, all in an effort to maximize my gear at the minimum weight. Grams become ounces and ounces become pounds very quickly. And after getting it all cut down to the lightest it can go…start over and cut more out. The photos on this post show where I am at about midpoint of this process. Much has been reduced, but there is still more to do. Ultimately, my pack won’t be finalized until the day we set out for Camp 1. One of the major and most important tasks that is only done on arrival at the host city is to pitch all of the food packaging and transferring most everything into ziplock bags. This not only makes these items lighter, but also more packable. I should note that one should do this only after travel because customs officials don’t like ziplock bags of white powder coming through their checkpoints! Not to dabble too much in the details, runners have a list of required gear that they must account for throughout the race (if interested you can view this list here). I stick strictly to this list, attempting to meet each requirement in the lightest and most minimal fashion. My only luxuries are a camera, an mp3 player, a cut-down sleeping pad, and an inflatable pillow (the last two items aid in maximizing sleep and recovery). The minimum caloric count is 14,000/runner. I will carry between 15,000 and 16,000 kcals. This won’t be finalized until just before the start, as swaps and last decisions are made. Apart from the training, this is the most important aspect of stage race preparation. It’s tough and it will make you obsessive…but it’s also fun for me to see just how little I can actually get by with. It’s very surprising to come to the reality that we surround ourselves with “necessities” that are far from that. When you have to strap your real needs to your back and cross a desert, you realize not only how little you actually need to get by but also how important the concepts of minimal consumption, minimal impact, and maximimum functionality really are.
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Saw this guy sunbathing yesterday while grinding out some hot road miles….
This weekends main event, other than the Dances with Dirt 50K in Indiana, is Transvulcania 2013. I host of elites have assembled in the Canary Islands for the first event in the Skyrunning season, and it should be a spectacular finish. Here’s the iRunFar preview of this weekends race.
iRunFar recently sat down with a runner on a tear right now, Sage Canaday. Learn more about Sage and what makes him tick.