TransAlpine Run 2016 – Packing

This is part 2 of a series detailing my experiences travelling to Europe and completing the Gore-tex TransAlpine Run. The TransAlpine Run is a 7-day stage race from southern Germany across Austria and into northern Italy boasting a distance of 250 km and elevation gain of 15000 m. Eight of us traveled there together as Team Ultra Crazy to attempt this huge goal.

The first challenge was packing for the two week trip including everything needed for the TransAlpine Run as well as travelling before and after the race. I had started accumulating what I could a couple months ahead but had to acquire a most things in the week before leaving.

We would receive a 100 L bag at package pickup that everything we needed for the race must fit in. But that didn’t help me get everything to Europe, so I ordered a Mountain Hardwear Lightweight Exp. 90 L duffle online from my favourite clearance site, I also picked up a MEC Travel Light 25 L duffle to use as a carry on and borrowed a small one-shoulder backpack from my mom to keep my passport and money strapped to me when sightseeing.

As my pile of stuff to bring grew larger and larger, I was worried that it wouldn’t all fit in my 90 L duffle bag but miraculously it just barely did! I was pretty pleased with myself until I went to pick up my full bad and nearly threw my back out. How was I going to lug this from the airport to downtown Munich and then to the start town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen?? The bag lacked wheels to roll it on.

I removed a few camping meals and ice packs then weighed my bag to make sure it at least made it under the 23 kg weight restriction. Phew, it did … but just barely. Between the six of us travelling together we must have lugged around well over 300 lbs of gear.

What I brought

For shoes, I brought my trusty pair of Altra Olympus 2.0s plus a brand new pair of Lone Peak 2.5s. I love to have both these shoes on hand for different terrain/distances and sometimes just to switch things up! I also brought my old pair of Altra Olympus 1.5s as a backup.

There was a fairly hefty list of mandatory gear for the race. In addition to trail shoes, I carried on me a GPS watch (Suunto Ambit 3 Peak), hydration pack (Salomon s-lab 12 L), hydration bladder (plus a spare) and two soft flasks (plus two spares) for a minimum of 1.5 L water, X-mug, first aid supplies, emergency blanket, cell phone, gloves, warm hat, waterproof jacket (Arc’teryx Norvan), long sleeve shirt (Helly Hanson base layer), and running pants (Hey Heys tights).

I also opted to bring my Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z poles, as well as stashed my GoPro Hero 4 silver, BodyGlide, chapstick, Pepto, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, sunscreen, and water purification tablets in my pack. Needless to say, my pack was very full (and heavy)!

Unsure of what the aid stations would provide, I brought a number of running snacks including Honey Stinger Gel, Honey Stinger Energy Chews, Honey Stinger Waffles, Luna bars, Gorp bars, Kind bars, Nakd bars, large Trail Butter packets, and a few Endurance Tap Maple Energy Gels. The aid stations were really well stocked so I ended going through mostly gels, some chews, waffles, and the occasional bar between check points.

My hydration strategy consisted of one 500 ml soft flask with Nuun Active (electrolytes) and another one with water. I tried to drink both bottles in between each aid station where I would refill them. I also started each day with a litre of water in my hydration bladder as a reserve.

I don’t like re-wearing running clothes without a proper wash so I planned to bring enough for a fresh outfit each day. This included an assortment of t-shirts and tank tops, seven pairs of Oiselle Roga shorts, seven Nike classic sports bras, seven pairs of Injinji midweight mini-crew trail socks, underwear, extra long sleeve shirts and running pants, a selection of trucker hats, seven Buffs, and two pairs of gaiters.

I also packed pyjama shorts, a light pair of harem pants, loose fitting Lululemon pants, several RLAG tanks, Arc’teryx Cerium LT down jacket, and OOFOS sandals for after each day of running, as well as jeans and one summer dress (just in case) for before and after the week of racing.

For maintenance and recovery, I packed CEP calf sleeves, instant ice packs, KT tape and scissors, 2Toms anti-blister/chafing roll on, icy cold gel, multi-vitamins, and a light knee brace (which I luckily didn’t need to use).

The most important part of my recovery, however, was nutrition. As a vegetarian, this can sometimes be tricky especially when visiting foreign countries. To ensure I got enough protein, I put a shaker cup and a Vega One protein powder packet in my dropbag for the end of each stage. After crossing the finish line, I made a shake with water and drank it while I stretched on the ground. There was also a quinoa salad booth every day at the finish line which was amazing.

The hotels we stayed at provided breakfast and the race put on a pasta party each night for dinner. I couldn’t take any chances on what would be served so I brought back up camping meals (AlpineAire and Backpacker’s Pantry) just in case. I didn’t end up using any of the breakfast meals since the hotels’ spreads all included cereal, bread, fruit, pastries, and juice. I didn’t attend many of the pasta dinners since they were lacking in vegetables and vegetarian protein so I did eat a couple of the dinners I brought and they were pretty delicious. I also ended up eating a few dinners at the hotel restaurants.

I packed a bag of electronics including travel adapters, iPhone charger, watch charger, GoPro charger and extra batteries, power banks, and headphones, as well as the usual toiletries, nail clippers, and a large ziplock bag for dirty laundry. And last but not least, I made sure not to forget my Euros and passport.

In the end I used most of the gear I brought except for my backup Olympus 1.5s, a couple pairs of running pants (since the weather was great), a pair of jeans, and the summer dress I brought just in case I needed to dress up a bit. However, I did bring WAY too much food. But hey, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it … right!?

More in the series:


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