What to Wear for Your First Ultra

What to wear for your first ultra

What to Wear for Your First Ultra

Running your first ultra can be intimidating and you probably have many questions about the gear you’ll need. XNRG’s partners at Apex Sports, the running specialists, have put together some top tips to help you prepare for your first ultra. It’s also important to visit the race website for information, reviews, and forums.

In the ultra world, most races are off-road, on trails or in mixed terrain. This brings new gear considerations, what shoes to wear, how to carry water and how to stay safe when it gets dark.

Headwear for Ultra Marathons

When you’re out in the elements for hours headwear is essential. On warm days a lightweight cap or visor works well, like the Inov-8 Race Elite Peak or All Terrain Visor. The Raidlight Sahara Cap with a neck protector is also a good option. A Buff is a versatile piece of kit that can be worn on the head or neck. For colder days a beanie hat like the Ronhill Merino 200 Beanie is warm without bulk. Sunglasses are useful on bright days, even in winter, to stop squinting.

For running at night, a head torch is crucial for providing light for safe navigation and improving visibility.

Tops for Ultra Marathon Running

For warm days a short-sleeved tee is recommended over a vest to protect your shoulders from the sun and to be comfortable with a backpack on. A ½ zip tee like the Ronhill Trail Zip Tee or Salomon Fast Wing Tee allows for ventilation and has backpack grippers across the shoulders.

In colder weather, a long-sleeved top made from merino wool is great for temperature control, minimal bulk and natural anti-odour properties. Good options are the Inov-8 AT/C Merino and Ronhill Merino 200 ½ Zip. The X-Bionic “The Trick” is another technical fitted top.

Ladies should invest in a good sports bra, like the Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra. A waterproof jacket, often required in the mandatory kit list, should have taped seams and a water resistance rating of over 10,000mm hydrostatic head. It is crucial to consult the race instructions for the mandatory ultra marathon kit list to ensure you have all the required items for your safety. We recommend the OMM Kamleika Race Jacket or Phantom Hoodie and the Gore Fusion WS Jacket.


Chiltern Challenge

Shorts and Tights for Your Ultra Marathon

On warm days wear your favourite race shorts, lycra shorts or capris (for ladies). Twin shorts like the Ronhill Stride Twin Short or Asics Woven 2-in-1 Short reduce chafing on long runs. For colder days tights provide extra support and warmth. The 2XU Compression Tights are a good option. Some runners prefer specific sports underwear like the X-Bionic Summerlight Boxer.

Socks for Ultra Marathon Runners

There are many technical running socks to choose from. Double-layer socks like Hilly TwinSkins, padded socks like Thorlos LRMX or long compression socks like X-Socks Run Energizer are all good options. Long socks also protect against stinging nettles and some runners prefer compression calf guards. Debris gaiters are also worth considering.

Amercham Ultra

Trail Running Shoes for Ultra Marathons

Trail running shoes are essential gear for ultra marathons, providing good grip and comfort for long hours of running on various terrains. Shoe choice depends on the terrain and conditions. For road courses or dry terrain, regular road trainers may be enough. But for off-road ultras trail shoes are more suitable. We recommend the Saucony Peregrine and Brooks Caldera for grip and cushioning. For more demanding conditions consider the Inov-8 Roclite 295, Scott Kinabalu Supertrac or Salomon Speedcross. Shoe choice is very personal and should be based on fit and technical needs.

Backpacks for Ultra Marathon Running

You’ll need a small race pack with a 3 to 8-litre capacity depending on the event’s requirements. It is crucial to pack essential items and equipment, ensuring you can carry up to 1 litre of water, nutritional items, and other essentials. Vest-style packs like the Raidlight Olmo5, Inov-8 Race Elite Vest, OMM Ultra8, Scott Trail RC TR4 and Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra are popular because of their secure fit. Try on several packs to find the one that fits your body.

Essentials for Ultra Marathons

Small details make a big difference. Wristbands like the X-Bionic Wallaby and anti-chafe products like Chafe-Ease or RunGuard will help with comfort. It is important to carry an aid kit, especially in remote settings. Depending on the event you may need to carry safety items like a space blanket or headtorch. It is also crucial to carry spare batteries to ensure safety in case of primary device failure. Most ultra events have well-stocked feed stations but it’s always good to carry some of your favourite nutritional items. Aid stations play a key role in managing hydration during an ultra marathon.

Many ultra runners use GPS watches to monitor time, speed, distance and heart rate and for navigation. The Garmin Fenix and TomTom Adventurer are good options. For ultra marathons, having an essential kit, such as a waterproof jacket with taped seams, is necessary to ensure self-sufficiency. For multi-stage events, bringing a sleeping bag is essential.

Ready to go ultra?

Our next XNRG fundraiser event is the Chiltern Ultra on Saturday, July 13th. In the beautiful Chilterns, this challenge supports life-changing operations for children in developing countries and is a great introduction to ultra marathon running. Enter the 50km ultra, and 25km half ultra or join a team of up to 5 people. Check our events page for all XNRG events in 2024. It’s FREE to run if you commit to raising funds for Humanity Direct. Enjoy your run and make a difference!

Group 2918

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