Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Creature of habit

I'm busy packing my running gear 'cos I'm off tomorrow for Puffer, an ultra in Cape Town. I've got all my favourite, favourites in my pack...

I haven't done a race for a while and so I'm really looking forward to Puffer. It's an 80km trail run from Cape Point to V&A where the first 23km is on road. I'm actually doing the baby race. The big daddy is Tuffer Puffer, a there-and-back route starting from V&A.

Anyway, I'm in for the little one and this will be my first time on da Mountain, depsite having been in CT many, many times.

The reason for this blog (there's always a reason) is that I'm busy packing my gear and got to thinking how pernickety I am about stuff.

Essentially this is just a run. We have 3 gear drops and at the one just over mid-way we have to collect things like rain jacket, compass, map, gloves and hat for the rest of the way to the finish. That's it. No other compulsory stuff required. But, I like to be prepared at all times, especially as I don't know the route at all and I know that conditions in the mountains can change in an instant.

From the end of the tar I'll carry a lightweight First Ascent shell (I'll pick up my heavier one later). I'll have my small knife, whistle and compass with me the whole way. I've even got my small space blanket that has been with me on every AR and ultra run and staged ultra for years. I've also got a little first aid kit in which I've got extra contact lenses, a little mirror and baby powder for my feet (should I need it). Also a couple of Myprodol (should I need them) and surgical needles - which I hope not to have to use on blisters. I always carry an extra pair of socks and will have others at each gear drop. I don't often need to change socks, but maybe I will so then at least they're there. I always have contact solution and lipice in the front pocket of my Salomon Packvest. When I change from my Adidas road shoes to my Adidas Response trail shoes I'll put on the mini gaiters I've been making for some years. I loooovvveee gaiters to keep all that irritating trail debris out of my socks and shoes.

My water reservoir... it's my good old faithful Camelback bladder, which goes in my Packvest. It's now 7-years old and although I've got a newer one I won at a race a couple of years ago (hardly used it), I still go for my old one. Part sentimental and part because it's my favourite.

I'll also pick up my small Black Diamond headlamp at a later checkpoint. I'll probably be in by mid to late afternoon though. And, believe it or not, I've also got my GloToob packed.

The moral of this tale - and it applies to AR too - is that I could be carrying far, far less but that for my comfort and from habit, I like to have my stuff with me at all times. I've rarely had to use my first aid kit, I seldom need my extra pair of socks and I've never used a space blanket. But, having these things with me makes me feel safe, secure and prepared. The extra kilogram (if that) is worth it for the psychological benefits.

I always pack the same stuff. I always pack things in the same place. Most importantly, it works so I won't be changing my habits anytime soon.

P.S. My friends Ugene Nel and Michael Graz are running Tuffer Puffer. They start on Friday morning running through Friday night. I only start on Saturday morning. Good luck boys!

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