June 16, 2014

What to pack for a night ultra (and the OrthoLite winners!)

I'm back up and running and over sickness, and it feels amazing. To prepare for the 36 (or 40, depending on how the race director feels when marking the course) mile race this weekend, I spent four hours exploring out at Ruffner Park, the site of my probable demise at about 3 a.m. on Sunday morning (it's a dusk to dawn race).

In those four Saturday hours, I ran across my first significant (long but fortunately not venomous, I think) snake ever on the trail. When I think about the total hours I've spent out there, I'm feeling pretty good about my odds of not seeing a snake again for a while.

Snikkity snake.

My best idea was to retrace our steps and not get anywhere near the snake, but the brave souls in the group below had better ideas. 

The crusher.

Xing (far right in above pic) picked up a stick to see if he could prod the snake into slithering away. Turns out that makes snakes really mad and coil up to strike. So he went to plan B, use the stick to pick up the snake in the middle of his 6-foot-long-ness and deposit it far enough away from the trail for us to run by. That plan worked and left us untouched by snake fangs. 

When I turned to the people of the internets with my snake pic, I got some really great snake advice that will make me feel better about jumping it next time. 

Thanks, Elizabeth! I've been contemplating this theory all weekend to psych myself up for snake jumping, at least if I'm runner numero uno in that scenario. 

Also, Saturday was my friend Diane's (red shirt, blue tights below) first trail run! She is feeling really great about that fact that she left right before the snake sighting. Some things you just don't need to see on your first trail run -- a giant snake is one of those things. 

Runners in the quarry. 

But if you see this view instead, you are sold. This view reminds you how awesome it is to live in Alabama. Sure we've got our problems, but we've also got this.

Ruffner Mtn. panorama. 

Because I stayed long enough at the park on Saturday to see all the people, I ran into Kyle, our Birmingham Ultra Trail Society leader and brains behind the Race Against the Sun. He is also the keeper of our latest BUTS accessories, the buff! Find Kyle if you want one. $15. I have never felt closer to Survivor than I do now that I own an actual trademarked Buff. And you know that show has been my jam since 2000 (how many of you feel sad for my life right at this moment?). 

This buff will be in my race bag for Saturday. And here's what else I'm making sure to pack.

What to pack for a night race: 
  • Lights. Very important in the darkness.
  • Food! This race will have one aid station for the 9ish-mile loops, so we are required to bring a lot of our own aid. I'm filling my bag up with Honey StingersShot BloksHammer gelsSkratch to drink, Endurolytes pills, and maybe some Hammer Fizz (if I can find some locally). 
  • Batteries. For my headlamps (bringing two) and for my handheld flashlight (bringing one). Also bringing a charger for my phone in case I need to plug it in at the pavilion near the aid station. 
  • Headbands. I will definitely be taking my new enduracool headband. These things are the best. Official review to come. I actually end up wearing it around my neck more than my head, but I like that it's looped so I don't have to worry about tying it or it falling off. 
  • Hats. To keep the ticks out. 
  • Tylenol. In case I get a headache like at my last ultra. 
  • Poison ivy deflector. This will include long socks and some of the official poison ivy block. Not sure if it works, but it's worth a shot. 
  • Baby wipes. I have friends who swear by wiping down with these right after runs to help clear out the poison ivy oil. 
  • Phone. For calling in the rescue team when I fall off a cliff in the dark. 
  • Extra shoes. Bringing the Hokas, Pearl Izumis, and Brooks Cascadia

Happy Belated Father's Day to my dad, who still rocks the shiny suit. 

My sister, my mom, me, and my dad. Circa 1996.


And we have three winners for the OrthoLite X-40 inserts! Sarah Jordan, Lori Connors and John Gash. Shoot me an email to yomommaruns(at)gmail.com with your mailing address so that we can get those out to you ASAP.

What would you be sure to pack for a night race? I need all the ideas I can get!

Do you have any good snake stories? 

What would be your first instinct if you happened upon a snake on the trail? 


  1. I'll answer #1 and #3

    #1 I'm bringing much of the same as you. I am bringing a jar of Nutella. You never know... Headphones, iPod, water pack... cooler (with ice inside)

    Let's be twinkies and wear our new buff headbands!

    #3 I'd scream. Shriek might be a better word for it...

  2. I didn't even know there was a poison ivy block - worth trying! Thanks for the info!

  3. I've been looking for headband. The bandana has been the only thing keeping me running in the crazy humidity.

    Head to toe neon for dusk to Dawn race. I came so close to losing a red backpack in the desert while on a 2 day surface scan in an anthropology 6 week study. 3 things sound like a rattler in the Oregon desert: a weed, a bug, and the snake. Most terrifying 2 days of my life ended in ripping my favorite jeans from the pocket straight down to my knee.

    My big boy 15 lb inside/outside cat decide bring home a live 2.5 ish feet garter snake home. Cat dropped it I snatch cat put inside, bucketed the snake took it to the couple running the community garden they were grateful to have it.

    Snake gets right-of-way as long as it is away from me.

  4. Sounds like you are prepared and ready! Funny that it will either be 36 or 40 depending on how the race director marks the course!

  5. I THINK I would have had the courage to pick that snake up with a branch and move it away. I don't care for them either. Would NEVER have touched it.

  6. Thanks for having the giveaway! Excited to try these inserts out!

  7. Oooh that snake is going to be in my nightmares! My Dad has already seen three on the farm and two have been really close to the house. I'm terrified of finding one in our backyard since I saw two last summer.


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