Being a bit of a shopping aficionado, when the kit list came out for my upcoming Namibia trip I jumped at the opportunity to discover a whole new world of consumerism. It felt just like when I first became pregnant years ago - the baby section in department stores, one I had never ventured into, suddenly became the most interesting place to shop in the world.
Temperatures during my upcoming run in the desert will rise to 50 degrees celsius during the day. There simply is no shade. Therefore the kit list for Namibia contained quite a few items as per expectations - sunglasses, hat (with neck protection), sunscreen and wicking clothing (no cotton). Compression leggings also a good idea to save oneself from aching muscles.
Reading on, the list then started to get interesting. A mandatory foot care kit - including bandages, rubbing alcohol, blister plasters and.....silicone lubricant.
Having no idea about silicone lubricant, a quick search on Amazon brought up a recommendation for Uberlube. Description: "a quality personal silicone-based, smooth lube that is longer lasting and offers extra slip"....
Continuing my education into the world of ultra running, one item I learned to be an absolute must with physical exertion in heat is salt tablets. Keeping fed and hydrated simply isn't enough - essential salts are lost through perspiration during the relentless hours of running in the sun. An interesting story on the need for salt relates to building the Hoover Dam in the 1930's. Workers were suffering severe cramps and in some cases, death. However, after a sign was amended in the mess hall to say "The surgeon says drink plenty of water....and put plenty of salt on your food", no further fatalities occurred for the remainder of the build.
On the assumption there will be no hot chip vendors in the dessert, salt tablets are going to have to do the job.
So, my stash now includes salt tablets, nurofen (to reduce inflammation), paracetamol (pain reliever), caffeine tabs (take just before the point of collapse) and anti-histamines (snake bites?). All set!
I will leave the discussion on "fuelling" for another post. Needless to say that I have found this a favoured topic of conversation between ultra runners. To take gels or not? Salt versus sweet snacks? Oh so many questions!
Another great tip....."Avon Skin so Soft" as a mosquito repellant. People swear by it, and having now tried it on, I can see why the mosquitos want nothing to do with the stuff. If I get lost on this trip I question whether I will really need the compulsory mirror and whistle... the search party can simply smell me out.
And finally, perhaps the most exciting purchase of them all, were my "cheat sticks". I have never been a fan of walking with poles - to date I have found using them cumbersome and little else more than a trip hazard But having bought myself a pair of foldable carbon poles (weighing less than 300g) and trying them out last weekend going up and down a very steep bank on Box Hill (x20!), I can vouch for the fact that they are an absolute life saver. To ensure I wasn't imagining things, on one of the laps I didn't use them. The difference was remarkable....I honestly think that walking up with poles is about 30% easier and on a steep descent they are great for stabilisation....especially for tired, wobbly legs.
So, one day before departure, I'm all packed up and ready to go. Am certain that I will look very much the part on my run. Let's just hope that my form in the desert gives justice to the investment.