Select Page

Everyday running is one thing. Racing is another.

That’s true in a lot of ways, not the least of which is a runner’s approach to hydration.

When I go on a long training run, I can structure it in lots of different ways. In a suburban setting, I can choose a route based on where there are drinking fountains or places to buy food and water. When I’m doing it on trails, I can take water purification tablets and make sure I run by streams, or I can do multiple loops or figure-8s that pass by my car so that I can reload on water.

But in a race, we need to work within the parameters of the course and the available aid stations and drop bags. And sometimes the distance between aid stations takes quite a while to cover, particularly in the later stages of the event.

For example, in the upcoming Black Canyon 100k, there are a couple stretches which, while they might not seem particularly long on fresh legs, are at a point in a race where I am likely to be hurting.

In particular, the 8.8 mile stretch between Black Canyon City and Cottonwood Gulch, as well as the 7.7 mile stretch between Table Mesa and Doe Spring, both come late in the day and have more climbing than other parts of the race. Each of these two segments is likely to take me at least 2 hours to cover, and probably closer to 2.5 (or more). Added to the challenges of that 8.8 mile stretch is that I’ll also need to carry some type of headlamp with me as I leave Black Canyon City because of where the drop bags are.

So even though I plan on carrying up to almost 55 ounces of fluid with me throughout the race, I’ll want more during those long stretches. In getting ready for this race I’ve read more than a few race reports where inadequate fluid intake was an issue. I don’t want to melt or shrivel up in the desert.

Unfortunately, the pack I’m choosing to run with (the first version of the Anton Ultimate Direction pack) is pretty much maxed out at about 55 oz (1L bladder in the back and 2 of the new 12oz UD bottles up front). So for my two long stretches I’ll either need to switch to an entirely new larger bladder pack (which would be overkill for some of the other remaining course segments), or take on an additional method of carrying fluid for the two long stretches.

The first thing that came to my mind was to have a [disposable handheld] bottle in the drop bags at Black Canyon City and Table Mesa. Certainly an easy solution, but I HATE carrying things in my hands when my energy levels are low. (And I’d still need to carry a lighting source to have available for the end of the segment from Cottonwood Gulch to Table Mesa.)

So, I dug into my old gear and parts bin, and eventually came up with this:

Components:

  • Old nylon Bison Belt (previously used during my rock climbing days to carry my chalk bag)
  • Two small-bottle holsters that were cut from a $1.99 hydration belt (which was poorly designed and generally unusable).
  • Two small bottles (approx 8 oz. and 10 oz.) from other pieces of discount gear that didn’t work out for me. The $1.99 hydration belt came with two 6 oz. bottles, which would have worked, but the larger bottles fit too, so why not boost the capacity?
  • Energizer Vision HD+ Focus headlamp, removed from stretchy headband and threaded through the Bison Belt. 250 lumens and 6 hours of battery life on high (3 AAAs) (approx. $20 on Amazon).
  • Because the bottles are small, there’s no noticeable bounce around my waist even when they’re full. The headlamp (now waistlamp) should be more than enough to get me through the dusk hours to my drop bag at Table Mesa, where I’ll be able to pick up a proper headlamp. I’d like to delay for a long as possible having to put additional mass around my head — carrying that mass around my waist will be less uncomfortable. (And, as a bonus, I’ll then have the waistlamp as a backup or supplemental light source for the final 11+ miles to the finish).

Are there any other folks out there who save their old gear, hoping for a time when inspiration strikes and they can put together something new and useful for an upcoming event?