Hey Jamie, hope this helps. Wanted to send it over as a page as Twitter DMs don't make it easy to list things in any real detail!
RTTS have a mandatory kit list here which they may do spot checks on when you register on the day. I've checked and this mandatory kit list is covered entirely by the below.
My favourite is the Salomon Adv Skin 12, it's absolutely brilliant and has enough room to store everything you'll need. comes with big stretchy pockets all around your waist useful for putting nutrition in, storing gloves, buffs, hats etc, and also comes with 2x soft flask water bottles so you don't have to buy them separately.
They are pretty pricey though so a good alternative is the Harrier Kinder 10L. It is an absolute steal for the price but you will need to buy 2x water bottles too (Harrier do good ones too). I find there's enough room in them but the pockets have small opening so getting food in and out can be tricky.
All the below would fit in either of these bags.
First Aid Kit & General "Shits Gone Wrong" Gear
Lifesystems do a great mini one that packs small and comes in a waterproof bag.
For every trail run and ultra I always, always carry:
- First aid kit with extra Compeed blister plasters (variety pack)
- Loud whistle
- Thermal blanket
- Backup head torch batteries or a cheap backup head torch
- Toilet paper / pack of tissues
- Sunblock (Nivia do a roll on kids on that is brilliant: small and easy to apply)
- Credit card / backup cash (mandatory kit for some races including RTTS)
- My phone
I've used a Petzl Actik Core for years now and still love it. 3x brightness levels, with the brightest being bright enough to see clearly through a dark woodland in the middle of the night, and a solid battery life.
The "Core" model comes with a battery pack, and you can buy spare battery packs or use 3 standard AAA batteries as spares.
Even in the summer most races (including RTTS) require a waterproof jacket. However in the summer you can get away with a small pack-a-mack style one.
I use a Harrier Exmoor jacket, it's bloody brilliant and likely what I'll be using over the summer as race kit, but it is a little on the bigger size (light but doesn't pack that small). I've got a Montane Nano which packs crazy small, but it is a bin bag to wear, a bugger to get on and off and I wouldn't recommend it.
If the weather is looking great I'd just get a pack-a-mack style one, something light you can get into your bag and not worry about.
OK this is down to what works for you and personal preference
The most important thing, like with marathons, is taking on enough water and salts to prevent dehydration and hyponatremia. Apart from hyponatremia being rather dangerous, you'll also struggle to eat and refuel properly if you are dehydrated. Being that RTTS is a summer ultra there's a high chance you'll be running in midday sun for hours too.
You have 3 routes you can go down with hydration:
- Powder like Tailwind - benefits of this are that it gives you carbs and salts in one package, and is trusted by a lot of professional ultra runners. Downside is that you must drink your water bottle every hour to get the correct nutrition and salts, and because it'll make your water quite thick it can be hard to drink on a very hot day. Tailwind come in stick packs that are easy to carry and put into water bottles at aid stations
- Tablets like SIS, Hi5, Nuun - drop these in your water and they give you the salts you need (no carbs though). Nuun are my favourite as the packs are smaller and tablets are bigger, so there is less chance of the tablets breaking apart in your pack. All these make your water taste a bit like squash, and are a pretty great way to go
- Salt sticks / chews - you drink plain water and instead swallow a salt capsule every 30 ish minutes. This is my current strategy as it lets me refill with plain water and not have to worry about dropping a tablet in
Main thing to do is pick one that feels like it works and train with it on your long runs.
There are a billion options here and it's so down to personal preference I'll stick to general guidance.
You should be aiming for 50-90g carbs an hour with a maximum of 300 calories per hour. Different people need more or less, I currently aim for ~50g an hour then top it up at aid stations with some snacks (if I hit 90g my stomach goes real funny!)
Some folks drink just Tailwind, some eat home made salty potatoes, Damian Hall eats custard, again the main thing is to test it during your long runs and find what works for you.
Anything up to a marathon I stick to gels or Tailwind, but beyond that I tend to find I need more real food, so this is my strategy (it works for me, your mileage may vary):
- Tailwind only for the first 2 hours, stops me faffing with my bag or slowing to eat when I'm still fresh and full of energy
- After that, plain water then every 30 minutes I will slow to a walk and eat 1 20g (ish) portion of food and take 1 salt capsule
- Eating a variety of sweet, savoury and salty, with more real food thrown in there so it's not just lots of carbs
- At aid stations I'll eat what I feel like - eating less on the move (40-50g carbs) means my stomach isn't over full and I can eat at an aid station without pushing my gut over the edge.
I do find when getting towards the end of a race, eating solid food can become more difficult, so it is useful to have some gels or similar to give you an option.
Here's food that works for me based on previous races:
Not going to recommend a particular make or model, too much personal preference here.
Instead just to say: they should be shoes you feel like you could wear all day without any niggles or hot spots. Anything like your toes bashing, rubbing, feet hurting in a particular place on training runs will only get magnified tenfold during an ultra.
The shoes I wear aren't the fastest, or even the most cushioned, I wear them because they are like slippers and don't give me issues mid run.
Pages That May Help
I did an in depth (geeky) breakdown of my kit for the Taffy 55, which is a similar distance to RTTS. The main difference being this was a winter ultra so I carried a lot more layers and warm gear then you'll need.
Blog on getting into ultra running, has a bit towards the end that talks about kit and training that may help