To prepare for and finish the Speight’s Coast to Coast, a 151-mile adventure race down under, my relay partner (and wife) Mary and I faced two broad challenges and scores of little ones when it came to gear.
For one thing we were complete novices at two of the sports (road racing on bikes, whitewater kayaking), and we were about to get a re-education on the third (running). So we needed to borrow, purchase, and gain a basic competence with a lot of gear we didn’t already own.
Buy a hydration pack just big enough (25 liters) to fit the mandatory first-aid gear and extra clothing layers for the 21-mile mountain run. Go even smaller by ditching the hydration bladder and drinking from streams as locals do. (As a rule, you do not want to drink from streams near livestock, campgrounds or industry.) For the race, my wife, Mary, opted for the Mountain Hardwear Fluid 26 ($100). For longer training runs, she swears by the Osprey Raptor 14 (right; $99). I found that there’s no hydration pack that fits my torso that well. If I cinched the shoulders, the hip belt ended up squeezing my diaphragm. If I loosened the shoulders and cinched the hip, the pack banged against my shoulder blades. And so I came around to something I swore I’d never be: a waist-pack guy. For runs over 8 to 10 miles or longer, I carry water, snacks, mobile phone, ID in an Osprey Talon 4 (below; $54), a sturdy belt that easily carries up to 240 cubic inches(room for a shell, even nano-puff jacket), and two quart/liter water bottles. Just don’t call it a fanny pack; the preferred terms are hip or lumbar pack.
Get on the water: Log time in a sea kayak or, ideally, a “long boat,” such as the Sisson Evolution, the kind you’ll want to rent/race in New Zealand. Get used to cycling in a pack: Drop by your local bike shop and ask, “So, when’s ‘the ride’?