Ok so here goes my first kit review. I have decided to split the kit reviews up so I can give a better focus to each item. Hopefully this will provide a good insight in to exactly what I used and what I would change for next year.
My first review will be on the clothing I wore for the run.
Those of you who have been following my blog or my facebook will know that Striders Edge very kindly sponsored me my clothing for the run and I can safely say that this is a brand I shall use time and time again. I did take a few other items with me which I will go in to further down this post.
So what did I take with me to the desert
I started the run in the kit above. My shorts were by Nike as Striders edge didn't sell shorts when I left for the desert. I chose these shorts as they were fairly breathable and I run in them all the time so I know they are comfortable. I don't really get along with the tighter running shorts and didn't want to risk it so I decided to stick these. I actually wore these for the entirety of the run, just putting my long bottoms on over the top rather than worrying about changing them all the time - thanks Mimi for this tip - although it did give an incredible VPL it was much easier.
My Calf guards are by skins - these are one thing that I hadn't actually used before so I broke my own rule with these and to be honest I have no idea if they helped or not. I took them off after the 2nd day I think it was (it all blurs) but they were very comfortable and didn't cause me any irritation at all which is always a plus point and if you usually wear calf guards then I don't think you would have any issues with these.
My top is by Striders edge and is the engineered climate map Lite T in sunny lime this was perfect for the temperatures in the desert. I didn't feel uncomfortable and it didn't get sticky at any point. It also helps that it is antibacterial which stops you from smelling like you have just run for hours in the heat (unfortunately it doesn't work miracles and stop you from looking like you have). This is one of my favourite T's from Striders Edge and I am hoping that they still have some on sale when I get paid :)
For the night time section I carried these Peak elements tights in my backpack. We did have the option of leaving our cold weather kit in a well placed drop bag - the only issue being that I had no idea how long each section would take me so by leaving my cold weather gear in a drop bag I left myself open to being out in the cold in my shorts and T-Shirt and I really didn't fancy that. These tights are slightly heavier than my other running bottoms but they were well worth the extra weight for the warmth they provided and the comfort. Again these are the only longer bottoms I took for the race and they were perfect.These are also antibacterial and are wind resistant which in the evenings was actually a bonus (not something I had expected to worry about in the desert).I didn't get any irritation at all from the bottoms and even after not being washed and worn every evening they still didn't smell and kept their shape perfectly. I didn't use the pockets on these for the run as I had plenty of pockets on my backpack but have used them when running in the colder weather in the UK and can vouch for them when they say they are designed to reduce whatever you stow digging into your body - they really do and look good to boot :)
Donning my peak elements tights ready for the colder night time section
Layers, Layers and more layers
core elements Gilet
Core elements Jacket
Soft brush insulated mid layer
I took the above layers from Striders edge interspersed with a top from Nike and one from Skins just to make sure I had some different options when I was out there as I wasn't sure how cold the evenings would be.
I am so pleased I did take all of the above tops as it did get very cold at night (the race organisers have altered the date of the race now to October with one of the reasons being it shouldn't be as cold at night in October)
Obviously what you need in cold weather is down to a persons individual preferences - I know that I get very cold very quickly so it was important for me to have lots of layers and to be able to keep warm because once you get too cold there is no getting warm again.
I chose to leave these tops in different drop bags rather than carry them with me (I carried my jacket instead which I will go on to in a moment) but was very pleased when I got to the checkpoints with these in, especially checkpoint 9 as it was very cold on the last night and for some reason I just couldn't get warm so I actually ended up wearing about 4 layers including 2 of the tops above my jacket and a t shirt.
The tops were comfortable, very soft (brushed on the inside for comfort) and breathable and again antibacterial. They all had the thumb through sports cuff which helped keeping my hands warm and they were all wind resistant as well. You can't really go wrong with these (unless you are a man in which case perhaps not the best option :) )
My Jacket was the Stride-lite run Jacket (again from Striders edge) I bought this in advance of the race and have been using it all through the winter. It has the trademark thumb through cuffs and although not fully waterproof it is shower proof so as long as you aren't going out in torrential rain you are fine. The jacket is very light so I carried it with me for the whole race and it was perfect to just put on whenever I felt a little cold.
With my Stride-Lite Jacket on at the finish of the race
Myself and Sarah were very lucky to have the support of Feetures Socks they are an American company who have the most comfortable running socks. I used the ones below for the whole race - I did take some of their other ones but by the time I got halfway through the race my feet had swollen too much to be able to get them on. These ones were brilliant and very comfortable. Unfortunately they didn't prevent me from getting blisters but then again I don't think that anything would have prevented any of us from getting blisters over this distance. I shall continue to use this brand of sock from now on for all of my running and for the gym as well.
These are made from Marino+ a blend of Rayon from Bamboo and Marino wool. I chose these ones as they are the quarter length so they stop just above the ankle (I thought this would be good to prevent sand getting in).
Never underestimate the importance or versatility of a buff. I took 6 buffs with me - yes 6 - I had my Thermal one for the night time sections which proved to be one of the best things I took. And my other buffs were used as Headbands and for protection in the sand storms.
I actually saved Tom by very kindly giving him one of my buffs when he lost his in the checkpoint when we were held because of the sandstorm (I am not sure I will ever get this back) see people may have laughed at the amount of stuff we had for checkpoints but it did come in useful :)
I don't know what I did before I found out about these wonderful items now.
I didn't only have the standard buffs though - we were very kindly sent a Buff desert hat as well which had the neck protection. These were brilliant - light weight and easy to pack away as they rolled up - we also found that as they were quite thin, when it was hot pouring water over them made them an excellent cooling aid.
I will do a separate review later for my other kit including my gaiters, trainers, backpack, and glasses :)
Also as an update since the run I have been struggling with an injury on my hip (if you notice in the picture of me at the finish above I am holding my hip and leaning slightly) it is preventing me from running any great distance at the moment which is more than slightly irritating but not to say I am not doing anything - Insanity - Swimming - Gym - DONE