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I'm an addict

by @garyfallsover
Monday 4th August 2014
Tags  Gary Dalton   |   Tor des Geants   |   Profeet
 
 

Run247 columnist Gary Dalton comes to the realisation that he may have a problem. We think it's one which many an ultra runner can relate to!

I’m an addict. There. I’ve said it. I knew I had a problem but, like all addicts, I refused to admit how bad it’d gotten, hiding my addiction from those who loved me like the guilty secret it was.  I’d get my deliveries in plain packaging, secreting them in purpose built cubby holes, only enjoying them when I knew I was alone.

You see, I just can’t stop myself buying outdoor kit. I spend my days surfing the web for discounted waterproofs, I have more shoes than a Spice Girl and I get unnaturally excited when I find a website selling anything which combines the words elements, discover and outdoors.  My wife recently found one of my carefully concealed stashes and though I think she was kinda glad it wasn’t goat porn she was a bit confused as to why I needed seven different pairs of gloves. And when a woman tells you have too many clothes then you know you have a problem.

I tried defending my addiction, as you do, by accusing her of not understanding my cultural needs, as a proud Irishman I know there’s 22 different words for rain so why wouldn’t I need a jacket for every type? Or that I needed 17 different trail shoes because you never know exactly what kind of mud you’re going to encounter. But no, logic apparently prevailed and so I’m the one with the issue.

As if, right?

So why, particularly now, am I admitting to this problem? Well the reason's twofold.  Firstly, I’m trying to finalise my kit choices for my next race, the 330km 24000m+ Tor des Geants  in the Italian Alps and secondly, I’ve been having some chats with kit suppliers about testing their gear and blathering on about it.  Now I’m not the guy who gets sent kit, I’m not the guy who blogs about the latest offering from Salomon or inov-8 and I’m certainly not the guy who wins races and so helps the profile of a brand. But it seems with the increase in popularity of ultra running  more and more outdoors companies are seeing the potential of the ultra market and are looking for more everyday athletes. Now I’m sure we all love seeing the Jornets and the Olsons of the sport, but how much do we really relate to them? Whilst I’m glad Salomon and the like spend tens of thousands developing incredibly light kit for their athletes, do I really need so shave ten grams off my pack weight to compete? I could probably just take one less doughnut and achieve the same thing couldn’t I?

Well the everyday consequence of having athletes like Jornet and brands like Salomon is that R&D is taken much more seriously  than it was previously. Salomon’s  bestselling and industry changing S-Lab was developed specifically for Killian Jornet. And because they spent time and money developing kit lighter than an angels fart we now have the shiny stuff we like. Brilliant. And who do most of us see wearing this kit down at the local ultra? Why it’s guys and girls like you and me, not the elites and the pros, normal runners who want the best kit they can afford and can trust. I love the fact that Killian wore a pair of sense mantras for his recent Hardrock success but I can relate to the fact that my mate Steve wore a pair of Speedcross when he finished The Spine.

So that’s why, for the Tor des Geants,  I’m looking for kit I know has performed for mortals like me.  I know I’m likely to be out on the mountains far longer than any of the elites and I need to be sure my kit is up to the task ahead. The time limit is 150 hours and though there’s no requirement to carry either sleeping bag or tent I know that with the highest part of the course at nearly 11,000 feet and temperatures potentially well below freezing, I’ll need to be carrying enough to ensure that, should I be forced to stop, I’ll be safe until help can get to me. So to that end I’m excavating the deepest darkest corners of my cupboards, I’m trying stuff on that hasn’t seen the light of day since George Michael was straight and I’m scouring the websites and comparing fleece weights. Because you know what it’s like, that doughnut could come in handy right?

Luckily my footwear choices have been easy. I’m fortunate enough to have a fantastic relationship with the excellent Profeet (www.profeet.co.uk) in Fulham who’ve not only agreed to supply me with the aforementioned Speedcross but have also scanned, poked and prodded my abused feet and magiced up some custom made insoles, which I’m fully expecting to carry me over the mountains with almost no effort from me. I’ve also been chatting with Gus from Gearpest in Scotland and he’s made some excellent suggestions for super-packable (that’s a word isn’t it?) base layers. The compulsory kit list is fairly extensive and the lighter I can make things the better it’ll be, but whilst keeping weight in mind, I’m never going to sacrifice safety for weight.

For me a large part of the fun is in choosing the kit that’ll best serve the race, there’s little point in my taking a mountain 32L pack to run along the downs on a summer day. When I first started doing ultras I made some horrendous kit choices, thinking ‘better safe than sorry’ for almost every race. I’d toe the line with enough food for a polar expedition and at least three spare baselayers. Now I’m a little more experienced I’m far more discerning, not only in shopping for kit, but also in choosing the kit I have to fit the race I’m doing.

For pretty much everything else I think I’m just going to go with what I have. Although the temptation is there to combine a training trip to the lakes with a shopping trip to the best outdoor shops in the UK, I’m genuinely struggling to think of anything I need. What I want is a different story altogether, a man has officially given up on life if he doesn’t get excited by the latest offering from Haglofs or Montane. But there comes a time in all men’s lives when we have  to admit, even if it’s only to ourselves, that he who dies with the most kit does not win. I can only wear one waterproof jacket at  a time and the newest Salomon’s will not in fact make me 17% faster. They will in fact only make me £120 poorer.

So how much kit do you have? And be honest, how much of it do you actually use? Are you a kit monkey like me or are you still wearing the same cotton T-shirt that got you through P.E  all those years ago?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About The Author

Gary Dalton

Gary Dalton is a rugby loving, crime fighting, white Irish Muslim ultra runner. Despite all this he's not a complete eejit. 

Gary is originally from the west of Ireland and can't actually remember when he moved to London - he blames a heavy diet of being tackled by prop forwards and potatoes for the memory loss. He hates going out for runs, canals and borderline hypothermia and loves ice cream and going out for runs. 

 
 
 
 
 

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Comments

R&D Kit Monkey

by Hels205
14:06, Monday 4th August 2014
I'm a borderline stingy git and even though I've probably got enough gear to take part in coast to coast a number of times I know I'm not really going to ever take part in such an event, well, not yet anyway! I validate my kit purchases with intense google/ultrarunning community research. I'm an R&D Kit Monkey.
Battery life/weight/togs/breathability/hydrostatic heads/volume and so on. Sometimes I get my kit purchase horribly wrong - impressive hydrostatic head does not make a comfy waterproof. But most of the time my kit purchases are validated by the amount of research I did before parting with my well earned dosh - wow this thing really is the bees knees - altho I've never seen a bees knee!! is it that amazing?
I'm also a kitchen sink carrier. Many a time I've used my extra kit to help others in need, only twice have I used it for myself. I still carry more than needed but I'm getting better at carrying what's required rather than what if the world ends kit. I've still not managed to find zombie repellent spray.
 
 
 
 
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