Regardless of which distance you’ve entered at the Marloth Mountain Challenge, you need to arrive at the start line both physically prepared as well as adequately prepared in terms of kit and nutrition. It’s is a challenging event, and even the shortest route has trail runners reaching altitudes of higher than 1000m, which means unpredictable weather that may change without any warning and cooler temperatures. To ensure you arrive with everything you need, make sure you pack each item on the compulsory equipment list, using the fabulous tips provided.
Because the Marloth Mountain Challenge routes are inaccessible by 4x4, and thus wild, remote and isolated, carrying the essential gear to ensure your safety, regardless of what happens, is vital. No one wants anything to go wrong, but should a situation arise where you are incapable of continuing on or worse, injure yourself, you need to be able to keep yourself warm, hydrated and fuelled as possible while you wait for help. “It is your responsibility to carry what you need too, to at least give you the best chance of survival in the worst mountain weather or when you cannot run for whatever reason,” says Owen Middleton, Race Director. This year, there will be a compulsory gear check before the run, as well as a spot check during the run. For each item you don’t have on the check list, you will be penalised 30 minutes.
- Backpack or similar mountain running gear carrier
- Waterproof jacket with hood
- Long sleeve wind breaker shell
- Micro fleece long sleeve
- Buff or similar
- Beanie/fleece hat or band
- Emergency/Space Blanket
- Mobile phone, charged and with the emergency number
- Race nutrition
- Water + minimum
- Basic first aid & personal medication
Plan your nutrition
“Fuelling for nine tough hours requires some thought (and ideally previous experimentation),” cautions last year’s women’s winner, Katya Soggot. Ideally you should have done several long runs building up to the MCC and should have an idea of what you like and what works for your body on the trail. Always pack more than you think you need, without overloading your backpack. “You need food for the duration of the race, which for me was about eight hours so I took a lot. I usually cater for long runs like this with things like peanut butter sandwiches, boiled and salted baby potatoes, dates, energy bars, gels, maybe some Perpetuem,” says Martin Kleynhans, a proud MMC finisher. “The challenge is that you need to take enough but yet you don't want to overload yourself.”
Check the weather forecast
During Martin Kleynhan’s first run of the MCC, the weather was cold, miserable and relentless during the first two thirds, but then miraculously changed in the final third.
“We had all weather in the day. We had snow and sleet in sub-zero temps with gale force wind, but by the afternoon it warmed up enough to run in a T-shirt and shorts.” With technology these days you can get a pretty accurate idea of what weather to expect, so ensure you check the forecast and pack accordingly. “If rain and cold are forecast, don’t underestimate the potential forces of nature. Hands can quickly become numb, and you need fingers to be responsive and dexterous, so that you can regularly access and consume food. So you need gloves that don’t make your fingers clumsy,” says Katya Soggot. Likewise, if the weather is hot – pack a small tube of sunscreen, a hat, sleeves, etc.
If you have capacity and space, here is some additional kit as advised by Katya Soggot that will make your run more comfortable. “I’d be sure to take sunglasses and a cap, even if it isn’t forecast to be sunny, and a pair gloves (even if just a pair of surgical gloves, which weigh nothing and are very effective).” As well as the above, pack extra first aid items that you may require to ward off injuries/discomforts that come from being on your feet for a long time, like blisters and chafe. Pack blister plasters, a spare pair of socks and anti-chafe cream like Fissan Everyday Bum Cream or Zambuck. Lastly, pack loo paper – in a Ziploc bag – for those emergency moments!
Prepare you kit the night before
Save yourself the stress, and prepare your backpack (with first aid, extra gear, food and water) the night before, pin your race number to your shirt and lay your gear out ready for the morning. Not only will it decrease the stress-factor in the morning, it may allow you an extra half an hour sleep too, or more time to get a hearty breakfast down! And with nothing left to stress about, the only thing left to do is get out there and enjoy the spectacular Marloth Mountain Challenge.