Marathon des Sables 2021 #MDS – Stage 1

The 35th Marathon des Sables finally got underway today after three postponements.

It was a very special moment to see over 700 runners from 40 nationalities depart under the sound of AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell.’ 

And what a highway to hell the 1st stage of 32.2km’s was!

The heatwave from the previous days did not disappear despite strong winds and sand storms throughout the previous night and race day turned out to be a scorching 45deg in the shade in the mid afternoon heat. As I write, there are currently 25 dropouts and and many runners required medical help from Doc Trotters out on the course.

The route, billed as an easy day was beautiful one with a little of everything, hard rocky plateau, villages with many children and soft sand and small dunettes to conclude the day.

The heat though and lack of any shade turned out to be the beast of the day and it reduced nearly the whole field to a slower pace and for most, that means walking!

Even the desert king, Rachid El Morabity, although wining easily ahead of his brother, looked tired and a little more exhausted from his 2h 36m run.

Aziza Raji from Morocco started the day at an easier pace and eventually took the lead ahead of the UK’s Anna Brown, however, just like Rachid, in the final km’s she looked ready to be over with the day.

The intense heat has now impacted on day 2 with the organisation bringing start time 30-minutes forward, 0800 instead of 0830. In addition, 1 extra bottle of water will be provided for each runner and CP1 and CP2.

The stage is another 32km day, BUT, many of those km’s take place in the relentless dunes of Merzouga (Erg Chebbi), the highest in Morocco.

Day 1 standings:

  • Rachid El Morabity
  • Mhoamed El Morabity
  • Aziz Yachou

  • Aziza Raji
  • Anna Brown
  • Aicha Omrani

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Pyrenees Stage Run 2021 – Stage 3

The longest day of the race travelling from Puigcerdà to Encamp in Andorra. A tough and challenging 47.5km with 2600m+ over some stunning and remarkable terrain that would leave the runners weary from the effort but rejuvenated by the views.

The early km’s were easy but soon the trail pointed to the sky and by 18km’s Guils-Fontanera had been passed and Refugi de Malniu opened up the gateway to the try challenges of this stage.

The climb to Portella D’Engorgs at 2696m sapping the energy of all only to be followed by a descent to Cabana D’Esparvers at 2060m and then another climb to 2543m and Coll de L’Illa. Looking at the profile, one may think that the final 15km is all downhill… Think again, it’s a challenging run with many false flats and technical terrain only to sap the legs and energy before the arrival in Andorra.

The day was always going to be feared and rightly so, 47km is never an easy run, even when fresh, let alone after already a couple of challenging days. The weather forecast also was less than favorable with storms and rain forecast for the afternoon, gladly it only arrived at 4pm and lasted for 30-minutes.

Relentless in beauty, the stage had it all with wide open valleys, technical single-track, tough and hard climbs and leg busting descents. It was a day to survive for many, the promise of an easier 20km stage the day after.

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERIES

As in the previous days, the results were the same, “Tuga Canarias” team of Gilberto Molina and Carmelo Gonzalez once again won. However, second place went to “The Ultrazzz” team of Wim Debbaut, Thomas Swankaert and Kurt Dhont with Jesús and Mario Delgado of the “The Sigobros Century” placing 3rd.

In the female category, Marcela Mikulecka and Petra Buresova of “Runsport Team” dominated followed by mother and daughter, Jeanette Rogers and Kerrianne Rogers of “Running Holidays France.”  

Jaroslaw and Natalia Haczyk of “BeerRunners” lead the mixed category ahead of “B-Running” team Bastian Mathijssen and Birgit Van Bockxmeer are followed by Steffen Rothe i Kathrin Litterst of “Black Forest.” 

The Pyrenees Stage Run would not be possible without the main sponsorship of Turga Active Wear, Garmin, Puigcerdà, Encamp (And) Vall del Madriu-Perafita-Claror and bifree sports.

Stage 4 is just 20k but with 1900m+.

The PSR can be followed live through the website of the race, https://psr.run, and every day a video and photographs of the stages will be published on their social networks.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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RAB Mythic Ultra 180 and 360 Sleeping Bag Reviews

RAB Mythic Ultra – Great in a hammock.

RAB have produced two state of the art sleeping bags in the Mythic Ultra 180 and Mythic Ultra 360 sleeping bags. Utilising the same technology, both bags offer low weight, small pack size, Hydrophobic Down and the ground-breaking TILT technology – Thermo Ionic Lining Technology. The TILT in real simple terms brings elements of an emergency space blanket incorporated into the design of the bags.

Offering best performance at weight for any comparable bag, both the 180 and 360 have been my ‘go-to’ bags since early in 2020. 

Quite simply, amazing levels of warmth for low weight.

Image ©RAB

The RAB Mythic 180 has 180g of 900+ fill power Hydrophobic down and a comfort limit of 0 degrees and a weight of 390g. It’s a perfect bag for warmer weather and any adventure when low weight, small pack size and warmth are important. Perfect for multi-day racing for Marathon des Sables or similar and, is brilliant for fastpacking adventures when travelling in a self-sufficient manner.

The RAB Mythic 360 has 360g of 900+ fill power Hydrophobic down and a comfort limit of -8 degrees and a weight of 620g. This bag utilises all the same technology of the 180 and quite simply is warmer and heavier. Just like the 180, it’s the perfect bag for racing and fastpacking adventures in colder and more challenging conditions.

Please read How To Choose A Sleeping Bag.

IN USE

Mythic Ultra 360

The recent 18-months have allowed me more time outdoors than ever before and almost weekly I have ventured outside on multi-day fastpacking adventures or overnight trips. The 360 and 180 have been on most of these trips offering low weight, small pack size and incredible warmth.

I am lucky, based in Norway, I get to fully experience the cold of winter and in summer, warm and comfortable nights.

An overnight fastpack in February and I was camping in -18 degrees on snow in a small one-man tent. The Mythic Ultra 360 with a comfort rating of -8 was not going to be enough for a cold night, however, I had planned accordingly carrying Merino base layers, down pants, and down jacket. When all combined inside the Mythic Ultra 360 I was cozy warm. This was an extreme test of the 360 and importantly, I think it’s important to understand how layering is an important element to the use of any sleeping bag. It offers incredible flexibility.

But the true test of the 360 has come on regular trips in Autumn and Spring when the temperatures are hovering around +5 to -5. In these situations, the bag has performed flawlessly providing low weight and incredible warmth all in a small package. The groundbreaking TILT really does perform and as mentioned earlier, it’s like adding a space blanket inside the bag. It’s heat reflective and therefore increases the internal warmth for minimal extra weight.

I consider the bag a game changer for its weight v performance but of course, this comes at a price. Expect to pay around £700 for this technology. 

Using 7D ripstop nylon, TILT and excellent design, the Mythic Ultra 360 has been the most comfortable bag I have ever used. One would potentially think that just 360g of down would not be enough, especially for a -8 bag, but that is where the technology kicks in and that is why the price goes up. It’s the perfect bag alpinists, adventurers, and runners.

It has boxwall construction and trapezoidal baffles which allows the down to loft reducing cold spot risk. It has an ergonomically designed collar and hood that closes in around the head and neck reducing cold getting inside the bag and therefore allowing the warm air inside the bag no opportunity to escape. An anti-snag zip guard, angled foot box and short zip are additional features.

As you would expect, internal space is compromised, after all, this helps keeps the weight down. So, this may be a consideration, it’s suitable for someone up to 6-foot tall with comfort. After that, it would come down to personal comfort and needs. Shoulder width is 27 inches, hip width 21 inches and the foot width 16 inches.

FEATURES

The bag comes with a large cotton sack so you can store without compressing the down, it is also supplied with a compression dry bag. It has a ½ length zip on the left only. The down is Hydrophobic, so, it can get wet and retain warmth, an important feature. 7D Ripstop fabric and importantly the TILT technology is a USP to boost warmth thereby facilitating lower bag weight. Tested to EN1357:2016 standards, the Mythic Ultra 360 has comfort of -2, Comfort limit of -8 and an extreme limit of -27 (but I wouldn’t want to be in that situation!)

CONCLUSION

This is a high-performance bag and state of the art. If the cost is no problem and you require small size, low weight, and warmth, the RAB Mythic Ultra 360 should be on your list. It’s an amazing bag!

Mythic Ultra 180

At £550 the 180 has all the features of the 360 above and it has the same measurements: Suitable for someone up to 6-foot tall with comfort. After that, it would come down to personal comfort and needs. Shoulder width is 27 inches, hip width 21 inches and the foot width 16 inches.

It also has all the same features including the cotton storage bag, dry bag, 7D ripstop, TILT, 900+ Hydrophobic down and same great construction.

Quite simply, the Mythic Ultra 180 is a stripped down 360 designed for warmer temperatures and thus bringing even lower weight and pack size.

At 400g, it is perfect for racing or fastpacking when temperatures at night are expected to be 0 degrees or above, as such, it’s a perfect bag for Marathon des Sables or similar multi-day adventures. It’s also ideal for Mountain Marathon events and summer alpinism.

All the pros and cons listed above for the 360 are directly transferable for the 180.

FEATURES

The bag comes with a large cotton sack so you can store without compressing the down, it is also supplied with a compression dry bag. It has a ½ length zip on the left only. The down is Hydrophobic, so, it can get wet and retain warmth, an important feature. 7D Ripstop fabric and importantly the TILT technology is a USP to boost warmth thereby facilitating lower bag weight. Tested to EN1357:2016 standards, the Mythic Ultra 180 has a comfort limit of 0 degrees.

CONCLUSION

Low weight, amazing warmth and small size, the Mythic Ultra 180 is a bag for warmer temperatures when price is no issue and features are paramount. It’s a perfect bag for racing and fastpacking adventures and the Hydrophobic down gives peace of mind in poor weather conditions.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The RAB Mythic Ultra 180 and 360 bags are state of the art and work together with each other offering low weight and warmth for any adventure. I am fortunate to have both and therefore can switch between 180 or 360 based on weather conditions. However, all sleeping bags have greater flexibility when one adds layers. The 360 can be used in much colder temperatures with Merino and down layers. You could argue that this adds extra weight to the overall pack, but, if you are out in in -10 or lower, you will be carrying these layers anyway for day use.

The 180 is a lighter bag and again, adding a layer or multiple layers when inside will increase warmth. A prime example being a race like MDS, many take a very light down jacket for when sitting around, add this inside the bag and the warmth increases.

However, here in the RAB Mythic Ultra, remember the TILT works by reflecting heat, so, one would need to test and try what method provides the best warmth.

Ultimately, if you need a sleeping bag the 180 and 360 offer two great starting points and they should be a consideration.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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INSTINCT XX 20L Multi-Day/ Stage Racing Pack – First Look

It is finally here… I have been waiting to get my hands on the INSTINCT XX 20L pack ever since I laid my eyes on it and now I have one to test.

Unprecedented in design, the XX marks a new beginning for those seeking the ideal solution for multi-day trail races, ultra-distance events or their next self-sufficient adventure.Stunning in function and versatility, the XX’s intuitive design offers easy access to key elements in the most critical conditions. Extreme function allows customization in how gear/ clothing/ food/ hydration can be carried.The XX is evolutive in volume and brings intelligent, segmented storage.

This is not a review, this is a first look and importantly I have done a video that address questions that I have asked and asked…

How much liquid will it hold?

Will it take 750ml bottles both hard and soft?

Do they have different sizes?

Is there a female version?

Over the coming days I will be testing the pack completely and I will video packing and showing capacity and features.

Below shows the pack with a typical multi-stage equipment list.

I will then do a 2-day fastpack carrying all I need, including tent, to see how the pack performs with a loaded weight of 8kg.

Below shows the pack with a typical fastpacking set up.

To show packing flexibility, the above pack is as in the Fastpacking video BUT with the tent split between one of the mesh pockets and the main compartment. All other contents remain the same, just packed differently.

Initial impressions confirm the pack has vest comfort and amazing flexibility and fit. Notably, the pack has the option to adjust in size shifting from 24L to 18L – important in a multi-day like MDS when you eat food and the need for less volume is required.

KEY FEATURES : – Large back door = instant access to main compartment and easy viewing of internal items
– Independent roll-top pocket for increased storage
– Removeable top pouch carries smaller items (first aid kit, knife, etc). A stretch mesh pocket over the top allows instant access to jacket storage or a solar battery panel

COMFORT  & PROTECTION : 
– Entirely made of Cordura© Nylon 6.6 ripstop
– 3mm perforated EVA padding in back panel
– 3D mesh shoulder straps/back panel for ideal sweat dissipation

The XX allows : 
– 2 x 750ml+ bottles/softflasks in front
– 2 XL vertical front zip pockets
– 2 zipped shoulder pockets
– 2 XL mesh front pockets
– 3 fixing options for poles (front/back)
– Ice pick on back
– Shovel fixture
– Easy backside carrying of sleeping mat or other objects (ex: tent)
– Independent 3L water bladder pocket
– X-Large 2-in-1 overlapping stretch mesh pockets on lower backside

Follow here for full review, video and photos.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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February 406 Challenge #feb406

With so many races cancelled or postponed, here is a challenge for February. No awards, no prizes, just an idea to provide some incentive for February doing the #feb406 challenge.

Download a PDF HERE

Option 1:

It’s simple, this is the ideal scenario: 28 days in the month, you run the days in km’s totalling 406km and you alternate providing easier and harder days. This should balance stress and recovery. Of course, listen to your body… This is not designed to break you but push you to a new level with a new challenge.

  • Day 1 – 1km
  • Day 2 – 28km
  • Day 3 – 2km
  • Day 4 – 27km
  • Day 5 – 3km
  • Day 6 – 26km

and so on…

Option 2:

Alternatively, you could get a calendar and run any of the day date distances on any day. Use the calendar like a bingo card and tick distance off as you complete it. This may be useful if you struggle for time, for example, you could put all the longer distance, 28km, 27km, 26km, 25km and so on on weekends.

Example of how to move the distances but still run all the dates, but on sporadic days with 406km total.

Option 3:

You aim to cover 406km in February in any way that works for you.

Maybe it’s just the motivation you need. And yes, on the longer days you can split up the distance to make it easier, maybe an AM and PM run.

Download a February month planner HERE

Download a month planner to help plan your day’s and distance.

If you’d like to join the community aspect, head along to the Multi-Day Running Group on Facebook (HERE)

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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How to deal with Race Postponement

This article is geared toward Marathon des Sables but is valid for any race with some adjustments and specific changes appropriate to the type of race and distance.

Marathon des Sables, once again, has been postponed. Originally scheduled for April 2020, the race was moved to September 2020 amidst growing worries and concerns over Coronavirus. As September approached, the writing was already on the wall and the decision was made to focus on April 2021 – everything will be fine then, won’t it!?

December 2020 soon came and with it, increased infection rates, new variants and despite the optimism of a vaccine, the world once again crumbled under the cloud of an ever-spreading pandemic. Christmas was cancelled and the new year unfortunately had nothing ‘new’ about it, it carried far too much of the old year.

January has been a disaster and the long-term view is not good. The world once again has been in a lockdown, some far worse than others. One thing is for sure, we are all a long way from ‘normal!’ So, it came as no surprise as events were cancelled all over the world.

Patrick Bauer.

MDS race director, Patrick Bauer, travelled to Morocco to assess the situation and on January 22nd, the MDS was once again postponed to another time; October 1-11, 2021.

All is good… the race WILL come!

I think it’s important to clarify, here and now, that at the end of the day, when people are dying globally, for a race to be postponed, is no big deal… I think once you accept that, dealing with race cancellation, disappointments and postponements becomes so much easier. It´s only a race! And we are fortunate to be able to race. It’s a luxury. But equally, livelihoods are struggling, RD´s are losing work, all the businesses associated with races are losing work, travel companies are losing customers, hotels, restaurants, design agencies, photographers, videographers and the list goes on, are all losing their livelihoods to an ongoing escalating pandemic. So while it is only a race, have a consideration for all involved and maybe, a little understanding for the very difficult challenges everyone is facing at the moment.

The locals need MDS, our tourism and our regular trips to Morocco.

Taking MDS as an example, 2020 participants will have entered in 2019 and some may well have entered in 2018. Typically, a MDS participant will prepare for 1-year. While the initial postponement was not great, it was easy to focus on September. 

Then September was cancelled… Already, many were struggling to re-focus, but April would be it, one last push and we are good to go! 

Now, with another postponement, MDS runners are left in a void, the race is 8-months away. They are all asking, what do I do now?

Gemma Game has been on the podium of MDS multiple times. She is a busy professional with a family.

Firstly…

When things change, adjust. Don´t kick-off against what has changed. Accept what is not in your control and control what you can. Adapt, move on (with running shoes) and train differently for a while; focus on different aspects of your running, weaknesses in particular. Look at the opportunities – focus on speed, work on hill strength, build a good core, do drills, stretch, maybe try yoga? A change of focus will give a physical and mental break and will help your performance. When the time is right, resume an appropriate training plan for your chosen race. I guarantee, you will be stronger, better prepared and ready for the challenge ahead. You are lucky and fortunate that you are able to even contemplate a race like MDS.

Uncertainty is a virus in itself, it can eat away at you. Quite simply, remove negativity and question marks. The current dates for MDS are 1-11 October. Do not consider the event will not happen, plan and train accordingly.

The reality is you are already in a good place. You have been training for a great deal of time already, just imagine how much better you will be when October comes.

Training in Lanzarote on a specific Multi-Day Training Camp HERE

Importantly though, it would be fool hardy to carry on with current training levels for an October race. You run the risk of injury and/ or getting peak fitness too early. Take a break!

“One of the mistakes I see most with runners is jumping from one race specific cycle to the next, without either giving themselves enough time between races or not “focusing” on training during the time between race and “taking a break”.

– runnersconnect

Kick back, take some time off from any structured plan and do a week/ two weeks (or even a little longer) of ´how you feel´ training. In this period, take time (with a piece of paper) to assess personal strengths and weaknesses. From this list, you can use February and March to address these weaknesses while ´maintaining´ fitness. Back off any intensity, maintain some decent mileage/ hours and keep sessions moderate.

Tom Evans placed 3rd at MDS and works on strength and core to enhance his running.

Importantly, get a running MOT from an experienced physio. Address any problems now and use that ‘extra’ time for therapy, strength, stretching and core. Find any underlying problems that may cause injury.

Work on admin – food for the MDS (article HERE), pack, sleeping bag (article HERE) sleeping mat and finalise equipment choices optimising weight, size and cost. Do everything you can to make your pack 6.5kg (plus water) for the start line on October 3rd. Read a guide HERE.

Do you need a 12-week and/ or 24-week Multi-Day Training Plan perfect for a multi-day adventure or a race like Marathon des Sables? They are designed to provide you with a structured weekly plan culminating in a target event.  

View a sample week HERE from the 12-week plan. Purchase HERE.  

View a sample week HERE from the 24-week plan. Purchase HERE.  

*****

The arrival of April will give you 6-months to race date. Now is the time to re-focus. Did you have races planned? If so (and they happen) maybe now they change focus and become preparation for MDS?

Use 3-months (April, May and June) to build on the weaknesses that you have worked on in February and March and lay the foundations for the key phase, July, August and September.

“One of the most common reasons runners hit a plateau is that they don’t work on their weaknesses between races, by focusing on your weaknesses now, you’re able to make progress long-term, even without training as hard.”

– runnersconnect
Do some specific training, here Sondre Amdahl at the Lanzarote Training Camp HERE

July should be the start of a very specific MDS phase (12-weeks) where you fine-hone all the relevant skills to make the 35th MDS not only successful but awesome.

It is easy to feel deflated with another disappointment and postponement but look at this cloud with a silver lining!

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Articles:

Choosing a sleeping bag for an adventure HERE

Fuelling for a Multi-Day like MDS HERE

Multi-Day Racing – It´s Not Complicated HERE

The Ultimate Equipment Guide to Desert Multi-Day Racing HERE

Top Tips to Better Multi-Day Running HERE

References Runners World and runnersconnect

*****

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Fuelling for a Multi-Day like MDS – Marathon des Sables

Marathon des Sables pioneered the multi-day racing format and as such is often a key starting point when discussing a fuelling strategy for a weeklong adventure. For those who do not know, MDS was created by Patrick Bauer after he crossed the Algerian Sahara in a self-sufficient manner in 1984. He carried everything required with the exception of water which was supplied by his brother. The 350km journey took 12-days.

Multi-day adventures require fuelling and how one obtains food can vary greatly. In principle, there are several keyways:

Self-sufficient

Semi-supported

Supported

For many, self-sufficiency poses the greater question marks and worries as there are multiple factors to consider:

  • How many days?
  • Weight?
  • Balance of nutrients and calories?
  • Hot or cold food (or both)?
  • Access to water?
  • Environment?
Loaded up for a week in the Sahara.

Runners are required to carry all they need to survive in a multi-day like MDS. Fuelling is essential to survive and the balance of calories v weight is a prime concern. The only things that are provided are a shelter (bivouac) which is shared with 7 other runners and water which is rationed. Since its creation in the mid 80’s, the MDS format has been copied and used as a template for other races all over the world.

Get your pack as close to 6.5kg (plus water) as possible.

Weight is the enemy of a multi-day runner or fastpacker and therefore balancing equipment, food and water is an art form in itself. Read an article HERE about the equipment required for a race like MDS.

Food will take up most of the weight on any adventure when being self-sufficient. MDS, for example, has a minimum food requirement of 2000 calories per day, a minimum pack weight of 6.5kg and then one must add water, typically a minimum 1.5 litres (1.5kg) which makes the starting pack weight a minimum 8kg.

Food for multiple days will typically be around 4 to 5kg.

Do you need a 12-week and/ or 24-week Multi-Day Training Plan perfect for a multi-day adventure or a race like Marathon des Sables? They are designed to provide you with a structured weekly plan culminating in a target event.  

View a sample week HERE from the 12-week planPurchase HERE.  

View a sample week HERE from the 24-week planPurchase HERE.  

*****

Quite simply, running or walking, covering 250km over 7-days will leave the runner in a calorie deficit. Therefore, it is essential to optimise the food one takes.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

How fast one goes does greatly impact on food choice and how calories are not only consumed but chosen. The macronutrient choices will change based on the balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat. In simple terms, a runner will burn more carbohydrates and a walker will burn more fat. Humans store enough fat to survive many days and even weeks. However, carbohydrate stores deplete quickly and need to be replenished.

Body weight, age, individual needs and males may well require more calories than a woman.

Main meals will usually come either freeze dried or dehydrated. Both processes involve removing the water from food to preserve it. Freeze-drying involves freezing the food to a very low temperature and drying it in a vacuum to remove moisture. Dehydration involves passing warm air over the surface of the food to remove moisture. Dehydration creates food that tastes like it should, with plenty of texture and flavour. It is an altogether slower and gentler process than freeze-drying. Please note though, that hydration times take considerably longer with cold water and taste can change. Test meals in advance using hot or cold water.

Firepot are a UK brand who create tasty meal by hand, using fresh ingredients and then dry each meal.

Carbohydrate, Fat and Protein are essential for balance and freeze-dried foods are usually balanced specifically for the needs of an active individual. Typically, 55% carbs, 30% fats and 15% protein are considered balanced. As an indicator in regard to calories, carbohydrates have 4 calories for 1 gram, fat has 9 calories for 1 gram and protein 4 calories for 1 gram.

Remember, we are all individual and although any recommendations here provide a guide and a template, you the individual need to answer very specific questions and ultimately, you may need to seek the advice of a nutrition expert to fine tune a fuelling plan for a multi-day adventure.

As a rough guide, BMR is the number of calories a person burns in normal day-to-day activity.

Example for a 37-year-old, 6ft tall, 170-pound man.

(66+(6.2 x 170) + (12.7 x 72) – (6.76 x 37) x 1.55 = 2663 calories

How to use the equation: (66+(6.2 x weight) + (12.7 x height) – (6.76 x age) x 1.55 = 2663 calories

The ‘Harris-Benedict‘ formula takes into consideration daily activity.

Fat adapted athletes will have specific requirements and the nutritional plan will be different.

Answer the following questions:

  • Age?
  • Male or female?
  • Body weight?
  • Walker?
  • Walk/ runner?
  • Runner?
  • Vegetarian/ Vegan?
  • Am I typically a hungry person?
  • Am I more hungry or less hungry with exercise?
  • Food allergies?
  • Will I use hot water or cold water?

A TYPICAL DAY

Breakfast – Ideally slow-release carbohydrate, some fat and quality protein.

Starting the day with breakfast.

Running Food – This will vary on the length of the stage, up to 6-hours and you may prefer easily absorbed carbohydrates, bars and or energy in drink form. For longer stages, the addition of real food, savoury and some protein would be wise. For a very long day, for example, the long day at MDS, you may even need a freeze-dried meal?

Post run food (immediate) – A shake is a great way to start the recovery period as it is easily absorbed, and this should have carbohydrate and protein.

Dinner – A dehydrated meal will form the basis for dinner and think about some small treats for each day, these will give you something to look forward to and help keep your palette fresh.

FOOD PLANNING AND IDEAS

Breakfast:

A freeze-dried breakfast is a good way to start the day. Top tip: Add the water to your breakfast at sleep time (especially if using cold water) as it will rehydrate during the night and be ready for eating in the morning. Of course, make sure it can’t be knocked over, get contaminated or damaged – that would be a disaster! An empty water bottle works, and the lid keeps it all safe. Example: Firepot Baked Apple Porridge is 125g with 500 calories.

Breakfast is essential to fuel the day ahead.

Muesli is popular and provides energy and fibre, it can easily be combined with a freeze-dried dairy product.

An energy bar for some works, but they often are heavy in proportion to the calories provided. However, for some, they are a perfect start to the day.

Top tip: Consider an evening meal as an alternative to breakfast. Sweet tasting food can become boring and sickly, the option to have something savoury with some spice can be a life saver.

During the run:

Runners will need typically more carbohydrate in an easy form so that they can maintain pace. By contrast, walkers will move slower, have more time to eat and easier time digesting, therefore real foods are possible. The balance is always weight v energy.  Don’t rely completely on liquids, some solid food and chewing is good for the body and mind.

Some ‘typical’ run snacks.

Example: Gels are around 32g each. Let’s say you took 1 gel per hour. Rachid El Morabity won the 2019 MDS in 18:31. So, 19 gels would weigh 608 grams. By contrast, if the race takes you 60-hours, 60 gels would be 1920g! Not only is the weight not feasible but also the volume size would just not work.

  • Powders (energy drinks) that one can add to water are an easy way to get calories and nutrients. They are also considerably lighter.
  • Energy bars.
  • Beefy jerky.
  • Dried fruit.
  • Nuts such as almonds are rich in fat and calories.
  • Trail mix.
  • Dried meat.

Post run:

Back in bivouac, first priority is drink and food.

A recovery drink is the quickest way to get balanced calories immediately in the body to start replenishing the body. Have this shake as soon as possible. Then do personal admin such as feet, clothes, bed, etc. One hour post the run, consider a snack like tabbouleh as this is easily hydrated with cold water and add some protein to it – dried meat a good option.

Dinner:

A dehydrated meal will make up the main calories. Depending on the person, the need for more or less calories will vary. Some companies, Firepot a good example, provide meals in two sizes: 135g with 485 calories or 200g with 730 calories for Vegan Chilli Non Carne and Rice.

A post-dinner treat is a good idea, this could be another freeze-dried option or a low-weight and high calorie option. A sweet such as a Lemon Sherbet is a simple way to add some freshness to your mouth and palette and although has little calories, it can be a nice treat.

Top tips:

Experienced runners make a real fire to boil water.
  • Try everything out before any race or event. You need to know what works for you when tired and fatigued. Try to simulate race situations so you have a good understanding of your palette and your body. Test for taste, stomach and brain.
  • Just because you love Spaghetti Bolognese, don’t be tempted to take 7 for a 7-day race. You and your palette become bored quickly.
  • Be careful with spices and anything that may irritate or aggravate a digestive system that will already be under stress.
  • The choice of having hot water can be a deal breaker. For some, a hot coffee or tea is just essential! In addition, food is typically more pleasurable when hot and hydrates quicker with hot water. You cannot use any gas stoves at MDS so you must use fuel tablets and a small stove. However, here are some alternative ideas: 1. If you finish early in the day, leave a bottle in the sun and let it warm naturally. 2. Often, there are lots of shrubs, twigs and branches around bivouac, it is possible to make a fire, but you will still need a pot.
  • Water at the race is provided in 1.5 litre bottles. A bottle cut in half is a perfect bowl for rehydrating food.
  • Consider repackaging all your food to make the volume and weight less, if you do this, be sure to include the nutrition label in your new packaging.
  • Take extra food and options. When in the Sahara, you can make some final food choices when you know the length of the stages from the road book. For example, the long day maybe 70km, equally, it could be closer to 90km – big difference for calories.
  • The ‘Long day’ and following ‘Rest Day’ will require different fuelling strategies, take this into consideration.
  • Rules – Race rules dictate you have a minimum 2000 calories per day, that you have nutrition labels for the food that you take and that on the morning of the last day that you have 2000 calories remaining.
  • Get used to reduced calories when training.
A cut down water bottle is a great food bowl.

WATER

Water is the only item provided at a race such as MDS and this is rationed. You are provided water for ‘in’ camp and then this is replenished while running; usually 3 litres every 10km (check the race rule book). When you finish the stage, you are then allocated water to last through the night and the following morning. NOTE: This water will need to last till CP1 on the next day’s stage, so make sure you leave enough to run with.

Water is rationed and supplied at every checkpoint on the route, typically every 10km.

Water is obviously used to hydrate but you also need it for your food and if you wish to wash.

Remember you need to replace salts that are lost through sweating. The race provides salt tablets on admin day and they recommend how to use and take them. Follow the advice. The two main reasons for a DNF are feet and dehydration.

SPREADSHEET

Create a spreadsheet so that you can see daily food items, how many calories and what the weight is. Not only is this invaluable for personal admin, but it is also a requirement for the race when at admin check.

Top Tip: Lay a day’s food out on the floor and look at it and analyse (visually) does this look enough for 1-day.

An example of fuelling for one day.
Use a sealed bag for each day and then add a label showing contents and calories.

CONCLUSIONS

Getting fuelling right for any multi-day is really important, so, do the research and test everything. Have a contingency plan and anticipate the need for sweet v savoury will change.

If possible, repackage food to save weight and use clear packaging and relabel adding the name of the food, what day it is for and how many calories are inside.

Make sure you have some treats and something to look forward to.

Real food is good for the brain and the chewing motion helps satisfy our natural human desire to eat and be happy.

Remember, multi-days are only about three things: running/ walking, eating and sleeping, so, make sure you are prepared for each element accordingly.

The long day, many stop and cook a meal during the night to fuel the journey.

SUMMARY

In this article, we have looked at food for a typical desert race like Marathon des Sables that lasts for 7-days. many races follow the same format. However, different race conditions may well dictate food choices, for example, a race in snow/ ice with sub-zero temperatures will require a different strategy and the balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat can be different.

The top Moroccan runners boil water and eat hot food. Here Mohammed El Morabity.

Some races or multi-day are semi-supported, some are supported. In these scenarios, your own food may be carried for you or, it may even be provided for you? Think ahead and plan for what you may need so that you can perform as you wish with the calories you need. Especially important for vegan, vegetarian or those on specific diets. The big advantages of semi or fully supported is the not needing to carry additional weight and in most scenarios, there will be no restriction on quantity or calories. Everest Trail Race and The Coastal Challenge are two perfect examples of semi and fully-supported races,

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Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content.

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Tips for the Trail – Katadyn BeFree 600ml Soft Flask

Katadyn BeFree Water Filter bottle

Running long, fastpacking or journeying for multiple days, either racing or training, and the need for water is a constant problem. It’s impossible to carry all that you would need and therefore, one must either resort to one of the following options:

  • Getting support from friends or using aid stations.
  • Purchasing from shops when possible.
  • Taking water from the trail.

In many scenarios, the latter option is often the ONLY option. However, how can you be safe knowing that the water you will drink, will not cause any issues or onward problems?

Step in the Katadyn BeFree.

With a capacity of 600ml, it is possible to access water from anywhere, filter it through the BeFree filter and then be confident that you are drinking safe water.

“The Filter removes bacteria, cysts and sediment with its pore size of 0.1 micron (0.0001mm). The output is up to 2L/min. and the capacity up to 1000L, depending on the water quality. 100% PVC and BPA free. “

Lightweight (59g), portable, ideal for on the go and easy to clean. The Katadyn BeFree is an essential item for any adventure.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Tips for the Trail – Attaching a Front Pack or Camera Bag to a running pack.

Fastpacking, multi-day adventures or running stage races like Marathon des Sables, often need creative ideas for adding not only extra storage space, but storage that is accessible, ‘on-the-go!’

Some brands actually produce Front Packs that work in conjunction with a specific pack.

However, I have always prepared to use a pack I prefer, that is comfortable, has the storage I need, fits well and then I customise as per my needs.

In this post I will show you how to add a Front Pack to any (within reason) running or hiking backpack by using ‘Anchor Links’ by Peak Design.

You will need the

Anchor Links

4 x zip ties

scissors

lighter

Front Pack.

What Front Pack?

This is all down to personal needs. But consider weight, durability, ease of attachment and something that is specific to your needs. For the demonstration, I am using a camera bag made by Lowepro.

If you needed a simple storage pouch with easy access, I regularly use a Peak Design Field Pouch.

Peak Design Field Pouch attached to a Montane Pack when Fastpacking in Nepal.

Detail to show how the Anchor and Link work.

Detail for securing the bottom of the Front Pack and reduce bounce.

Attaching a Front Pack is an excellent way to add ‘on-the-go’ storage and access to any pack. It is simple, relatively inexpensive and of course, if not needed, removable.

Hope you have found this Tip for the Trail useful!

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

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NEMO Hornet 1 Person Fastpacking Tent Review

Better wind and weather protection than a bivvy bag, the Nemo Hornet 1P is an ultralight double-wall tent that only weighs 731g. Ideal for solo fastpacking or bikepacking!

Sized for one person, the Hornet 1P will fit two people, yes it will be snug, but two people definitely can sleep with compromised comfort in this tent.

Read a guide on fastpacking HERE

Supplied with a single Y shaped pole (DAC poles) of supreme quality alloy, connection to the inner tent is made at three points, two on the corners of the top (head) end and one in the middle of the bottom (foot) end of the tent.
While these three arms are enough to hold up the inner tent in free standing scenario, you still need to stake out the four corners of the inner tent to stretch it out and make the full living space.

Read a guide on fastpacking LIGHT HERE

Top tip: Make sure you stake at least one corner first, especially in wind, before inserting the poles.
The head end of the tent connects with a ‘ball and socket’ (called Jake’s foot`) connection which is a clever design, the foot end is a simple metal protected hole. At the top of the tent, Nemo use a ‘Flybar’ which creates additional headspace with minimal weight.
The inner uses ’No-See-Um-Mesh’ on the sides for privacy. On the upper the mesh is black, so, for those warm and barmy nights when you can pitch inner only, lie back and gaze at the stars in comfort.

Join our Multi-Day Training Camp in Lanzarote HERE

A mesh pocket on the inner, near the door is ideal for wallet, glasses, phone or other essential items. One overhead pocket is designed for a headlamp and it uses a white semi-translucent fabric that diffuses light to create a soft lighting. Of all the solo tents I have looked at and used, headroom is excellent and sitting up relaxing or cooking is a pleasure. It is a roomy solo tent and will accommodate two for a cozy night!
There is one door, which opens into a vestibule providing excellent room and space  to store your pack, extra gear and space to cook. The inner can also (optionally) connect to the fly on both sides of the tent to increase inner space. Ventilation is good due to the fly sitting high off the floor. A high bathtub protects from cold.

The rain fly is nylon ripstop 10D Sil (1200mm,) it is lightweight as one would expect and provides good privacy. The fly connects to the four staked corners of the inner tent and requires two additional tent pegs for the front vestibule and on the other side, the Hornet 1P is clever in reducing clutter and maximising tent pegs for dual use.
A central door zipper is protected against rain with a storm flap. Both the inner and outer door roll back and are secured with simple fastening systems.
Extra guylines are provided to secure the tent which secure to webbing loops that are attached to the tent. In windy weather, most definitely use them.

CONCLUSION

I am really impressed with the NEMO Hornet 1P. It’s a clever design, spacious, has loads of headroom and comfortable living space and all in a compact and lightweight package.
When weight and small volume are a priority, the Hornet comes highly recommended, especially for extended multi-day adventures. We can all compromise comfort for a night or two, but for extended trips, the Hornet’s living space and storage is a real plus.
Easy to set up, the Hornet is a real winner. However, it’s not perfect. The fly sits high off the ground which is great for ventilation and air flow, however, in bad weather, it will allow increased air flow and the tent is most certainly not as warm as others.
The fly and inner are just over 500g. That is incredible for a tent that offers this much living space. The pole system is simple and quick. The tent pegs provided are far too heavy for a tent of this nature and I can only assume that Nemo provide them because they are cheaper and that helps keep the cost down to the consumer. When you purchase the tent, make sure you get some lightweight tent pegs too.
731g for a solo tent is excellent and the NEMO Hornet 1P comes highly recommended.

*****

“For those looking for an ultralight shelter with greater volume, Hornet™ offers the ultimate in livability and comfort. Top shelf fabrics and a minimal pole structure shave every ounce possible, while our latest updates and new patent-pending Flybar™ volumizing clip add even more room without adding any weight.” – Nemo

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.