Whoever said running was a cheap sport obviously wasn't a trail runner and has never done a major trail race, or any trail race come to think of it.
We've heard the stories of runners with non-running partners, that don't understand the latest hydration pack is an "essential" thing rather than a "wish" because it weighs 30grams less than the previous model.
So you've signed up for Ultra Trail Australia (UTA) and whether you're doing the 11k, 22k, 50k or the 100k just the entry fee has set you back between $90 and $420. On top of that you have accomodation and travel to the Blue Mountains, plus there's the food and nutrition costs and lets not think about the money you'll spend on training, nutrition, gear and warm-up races leading into the big one in May. Here's a tip - never ever have a spreadsheet to track the costs - it will only end in tears.
If you're a first-timer and we know there's lots of you, you want to make sure your first UTA experience is an enjoyable one.
Make it more about the finish shute rather than being up the pointy end of the race with all those fast runners or setting yourself a tough goal time. The runners we coach that are toeing the line in May will have 3 goals A, B and C. Most importantly we make it about the process leading into May rather than be 100% focused on that goal.
It can be mentally draining and has had many runners already mentally and physically exhausted well before raceday. If you're not sure where to start with what's achievable FOR YOU - we'd love to chat and help you out! LETS TOUCH BASE.
The gear, and wow there's a lot of it. The shoes, the gloves, the pants, the top, the pack, the soft flasks, a mobile phone, a whistle, the rain jacket and thermal. Oh, what about the space blanket, the snake bandage and all the food and fluid for race day. You could be running in the dark so don't forget the head torch plus your backup head torch... that bank account really takes a hit doesn't it and the brownie points you'll owe your partner are growing...
Now for those first timers and everybody else, you have mandatory gear you must carry during your race. From the 11k through to the 100k.
We've put a link below for each races mandatory gear checklist, so be sure to check and double check the list before race day and have your gear checked prior to race week by one of the many official gear check stores.
Mandatory Gear List;
The mandatory gear is required mainly for your safety so although for the beginner having the best, lightest or most expensive isn't a priority you need to ensure 1) It conforms to the requirements and 2) You're comfortable carrying it or wearing it (if required). Some of the gear (wet weather) may not be required if race conditions are favourable - BUT, you'll still need them "just in case it isn't".
Shopping thriftly and shopping around can in the end save you hundreds of dollars and don't forget asking friends that may not be running but have previously, to borrow gear like a rain jacket, is a great idea. Note: Whatever your gear and no matter where you get it - make sure you wear and test it well before Raceday.
Lets start with the Mandatory Waterproof and Breathable Jacket which is weather dependant for the 11k and 22k but must be worn or carried for the 50k and 100k.
For those of you doing the 11k or 22k it could be an item of clothing you don't end up using so spending $200+ is probably a bit excessive.
You could go top top shelf with something like the Salomon Light Racing Jacket at around the $200 mark or for something that will do the job (if required) and meets the requiements head to Decathlon and spend $69 on the Waterproof Women's Trail Running Jacket
Water bottles and Bladders - where do we start. Let's look at the soft flasks which are easily the easiest way to carry fluid, other than have it in your hydration packs bladder.
Head to your local running store or jump online and grab yourself a couple of 500ml Salomon or Ultimate Direction soft flasks, which could set you back up to $70. Shop around and you could grab a couple on special. Checkout these
Salomon 237ml on special at Wildearth.com.au for $14.70.
If you're really looking to save the pennies or just need a few bottles to make up the requirement to "have capacity" to carry up to 2 litres. You could use the 500ml soft flasks from Decathlon for $20.00
With some of you finishing in the dark - planned or unplanned, head torches are a must and are mandatory. If you're attempting to run and/or power hike during the night investing in a powerful light is a must and Petzel have great range and there's a few on sale at Wiggle.com.au or Wildfire Sports
Now lets get onto the most important items, packs and shoes. Comfort is so important given the fact you could be out from 3hrs to 24hrs so as we mentioned previously, test your gear well before race day - Hint: In case you do have wet weather conditions, ensure you try your pack with your wet weather jacket on too.
The main trail brands will bring out new packs yearly, much the same as shoe companies - marketing is usually about lighter and better for various reasons. But if this is your first (and who knows, maybe you're a try it once and move on sort of person) major trail race do you really need the best and lightest pack on the market?? That's up to you, but perhaps your hard earned money could be better served on coaching or a post race weekend getaway.
The team at Pace Athletic have a wonderful range online and currently have 20% off some really nice hydration packs.
This Ladies Salomon Advanced Skin 8 Set SS19 pack is only available in Medium but you'll save $53.00 - jump online as they have a few 2019 models on sale.
If you're after another quality brand at a bargain price checkout the. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 4.0 from $199 to $160 online at Pure Running. ** Get a further 15% off when you use the code below.
We don't have to tell you how important shoes are, but again if you're new to trail running and will be doing more walking than running then don't feel you need the lightest pair of trail shoes with a rock plate or someone selling you on the latest rubber component.
Buy a pair of shoes that are comfortable on your feet and not because someone on a running forum told you they were awesome. If you're new to trail running or thinking of trying a new brand or model, we suggest visiting your local speciality running store for some expert guidance.
If your favourite pair are now heading to the gardening shoes pile and you're after the exact same pair, then jump online and shop around, you've got nothing to lose and perhaps money to save. Try something like The Running Warehouse online for something like the
Ladies Salomon Sense Ride 2 for less than $100.
Note: Running Warehouse have a very good returns policy and delivery time is excellent.
If your intention is to simply walk the 11k or 22k and training will mean just a few hikes or slow runs on your local trail then perhaps give the Kiprun Trail Shoes a go from Decathlon. At $65 we wouldn't expect much but there's some decent reviews on them.
As we've proven, there's no need to break the bank when it comes to Trail Running and shopping around can save a decent amount of money. You might have your own favourite online stores or shops you like to get your gear from which is fantastic, but paying a visit just before or when the new 2020 ranges come out will normally see the SALE sign go up on the previous models.
Don't forget to test your gear before race day in the dry and in the wet! You'll put in some decent hours training and make a few family or social sacrifices so preparation is key and a great start to having an amazing UTA experience.
All prices were correct when published.
We have no affiliation** with any of the Brands or Stores mention or suggested.
** Use the code runLOCALrunner and get 15% off. (we do not earn any commission)