It’s about nine hours now until the gun goes off and I move forward into the night in the direction of Lyon, the Halle Tony Garnier, and the finish line of the 2016 Saintelyon. I’m as ready as I’ll be right now and while I don’t feel quite as good as when I was heading to Amiens and the 100km de la Somme, I think I’ll still have an enjoyable run and hopefully be home under 10 hours.

Here’s what I’m taking along for the run…

saintelyon-stuff

At the top right corner of the image are two sets of gloves. On the right are some thin, light silk gloves and next to them with the funky silver design are some heavier running gloves. I usually only use the latter but I know that if it gets particularly cold I’ll appreciate the second layer on my fingers, and if it is too hot I can stow them without issue. Next to the gloves are the arm warmers I’ll wear. These are made for road cycling but they are great for running and very warm.

The electronics next to the arm warmers consist of my iPod Shuffle, some headphones, a spare battery with cord, and the charging cable for my Garmin. I don’t think I’ll use anything except for maybe the iPod but I prefer to have a charger for my headlamp just in case something goes wrong. I don’t think the Garmin will need to be charged but I would prefer not to lose the data from the run so the cable is a just-in-case.

On the left is all the stuff I’ll be wearing: a Craft technical t-shirt, some Kalenji underwear, a Kalenji 3/4 tight, some Kalenji compression sleeves for my calves, and a running skullcap. All of it is stuff I have run with before except for the skullcap that I picked up yesterday at the Saintelyon expo. It’s lighter than the one I had and a little larger, too, so I think it will be comfortable.

The light blue fabric with the ’24’ upside down is my buff from the first ultra I ran in Ploeren about a year ago. I actually have two of them from that event and I like that it is light and keeps my neck warm. Above the buff is a survival blanket which is recommended gear – I’ll take it even if I hope not to use it as someone else might really need it on the trail – and my Petzl headlamp is above that. It should get me through to the morning without needing to be recharged and I have never had any issues with it before.

Hard to see but just to the right of the headlamp is the candy I am going to stash in my pack. There are aid stations among the way and I am sure I will grab something when I arrive, but I don’t want to wait until I have been running an hour and a half to eat, or to manage my nutrition by the aid stations alone. If I can eat early, eat often, and rely a little on myself, I’ll be happier than if I am hungry and dying for the aid station to appear over the next hill.

The socks above the headlamp and the candy are standard Kalenji hiking socks. I have some running socks but I like these: they are thicker, softer, and I have never had any issues with them all the time I have used them. That they are also incredibly inexpensive, too, makes them even more attractive in the face of €15 specialized running socks. When you find something that works, stick to it.

Bottom right is my Kalenji jacket which is the second layer I’ll wear over the t-shirt. The organizers recommend three layers but I get hot in even cold conditions with just two. I think I’ll be find with just the jacket, the t-shirt, and the arm warmers, and if I do get hot I can stow the jacket in my pack.

The pack, of course, is the big sack in the top right corner. It’s the Camelbak Ultra 10 which is an early Christmas present from my sister. I have been using the Camelbak Circuit for a year and when I got this one last week I tried it out over some runs and it is even better. Yes, it is bigger, but it holds more water and it is more comfortable than the Circuit. This will be the first ultra I use it for and I’m hoping it repeats the positive experience from the training run.

Last but not least is my race number, 1591. At the Saintelyon you wear a ‘bib’ instead of pinning a number to your chest. I suspect this helps not losing the number on the trail or in a fall, and it makes for a nice souvenir afterwards, too. At the bottom right is another timing tag that the organizers included in the race book with a zip tie to attach it to the hydration pack. Not sure why but they are the boss so I’m going with it.

So that’s what I’ll take when I leave on the train in a few hours in the direction of Saint Etienne. I’ll have a few hours to kill in the hall at the start line but I think that the other runners and whatever I have on the iPod will keep my amused until it is time to get going. For what it is worth, I don’t think I’m going to run with the headphones in until maybe late in the race. Between the dark and the 17,000 other runners on the course, I think I’ll have enough to concentrate on without getting distracted with music or a podcast.

And so, it all begins in less than nine circuits of the clock now. It’ll be fun, it’ll be interesting, it’s sure to be muddy, and it’s also sure to be the last ultra of 2016 for me.

Counting down: 9, 8, 7, 6, 5…

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