You can download my full food and kit list on the other page. At the end of the day though, most of the kit you wear and the shoes you run are are very personal to you. Everybody swears by a different brand or style of shoe, the most important factor is to be comfortable. This is a summary of what I took and why. It’s not necessarily the best solution, but what worked for me.

There were two kinds of packs, it seems, the 6.5kg minimalist approach and the 9kg+ comfort pack. Mine was in the latter camp at over 10kg. Most of my ‘excess weight’ was food. That said, those who wanted to be minimalist didn’t take walking poles or a sleeping mat. Throw in my iPod and solar charger and that’s over 1kg I could have stripped out. Everything is a choice. My knife was the smallest Leatherman, the super efficient took the near weightless blade from a Swisscard.

I had seen the super efficient approach from Keith Evans at a seminar in the October before the race (who was one of my tent mates). A great insight in to how you can achieve the ‘perfect’ pack in weight terms, but not a path I chose to follow in certain areas. Then again, Keith did beat me by an hour or so in the first few stages!! The most successful member of out tent, Mike, just missed out on a top 100 place overall and was constantly jettisoning gear and reappraising his pack every night. Weight certainly counts if you intend to do well.

Favourite items

My favourite piece of kit is probably my heart rate monitor and foot pod. Aside from the training benefits (and I believe a HRM is invaluable on this front) the foot pod measures distance traveled and pace. Hence, you know how far it is to the next check point. I found this was great for monitoring water consumption to make sure I drank fluids constantly without running out. The foot pod was also a real psychological boost; knowing how far was left. It's not a GPS based system but works using inertial technology (measures speed and angle of movement). I won’t go into this now, but suffice it to say it works and is fairly accurate. If anything it underestimated distance in the dunes, so the check point arrived sooner than I expected.

My second favourite piece of kit was my ipod and Solio (solar charger). I did most of my running alone and found the music a great boost. The Solio will charge any portable electronic device such as iPod, camera, phone, plus anything with a USB connection. Certainly a luxury, but a weight I was happy to carry. Surprisingly, plenty of the top 150 runners (or at least the handful I knew!) carried these, so not just a luxury for those of us at the back!


This is a contentious issue. Everybody swears by a certain brand and is fervent in their recommendations. At the end of the day, you have to go with your own favourites. I ended up switching to the New Balance MDS shoe only 6 weeks before going, not the ideal time to change, but a potential life saver. They didn't let sand in and I suffered from no blisters at all.

Prior to the MDS, I used to run with New Balance shoes anyway. I had originally intended to find a New Balance trail shoe. However, the running shop I went to was hugely excited about Montrails, the Continental Divide model in particular, an adventure racing favourite. Given that this particular shop didn't stock Montrails and lost a sale with this advice, I took it seriously!

I picked up a pair of Montrails in September in my size and they were great. I then bought a size too big, in keeping with best advice. These too were fine. However, in my first ultra, the Tring2town in January, I suffered very badly from heel blisters after 30 miles. Speaking to a number of well seasoned runners (thanks Rory!) they described the shape of the insole, which rose up the back and side of my foot, as being the potential problem. I checked the shoes and it did indeed have a rising insole. My old New Balance road shoes had a flat footbed; stick with what you know!

With less than 2 months to go, I decided to switch to New Balance. Unable to find a shop that stocked the full range, I turned to online retailer wiggle and bought each of the top 3 New Balance trail shoes in 2 sizes, sending back 5 pairs after deciding on the MDS shoe in a single size too big. The shoes have a neoprene style cuff, which kept the sand out, a fantastic feature. My only complaint is that they should offer a version with a built in gaiter, more of that later.

Anyway, the moral of the story is to stick with what you know. Take a size too big, certainly no larger. I would have got away with just a half size too big, but with no previous experience it's not worth the risk, particularly if you end up getting blisters.


Another area of great debate, gaiters. The free gaiters from New Balance for the 2007 race would be/ could be perfect; if only there was a way of successfully attaching them to your shoes. A lycra gaiter that starts at the ankle and encompasses the shoe, attached by Velcro around the edge of the shoe. The trick is to successfully attach a Velcro strip to your shoe. I went for Aradlite Rapide, others had glued and stapled them to the shoe. I saw very few pairs successfully attached after a day or so, mine barely lasted a morning and I had diligently sanded and glued for hours.

I suspect that the only way to attach them permanently is to have them stitched on, either at a farrier or upon arrival in Morocco. The alternative gaiter of choice, knee length parachute silk, appears to have enjoyed great success [link]. Not so much because the gaiter is necessarily superior, but rather the majority of the ones I saw had been stitched onto the shoes directly. This can be done on arrival in Morocco by the local tradesmen. Bottom line, whatever you go for, get it stitched on!


My base stocks were always Ininjis. With an individual sock for each toe (like gloves) they are supposed to eliminate blisters between your toes. I’ve never had a problem with them and found them to be great. In wet winter runs, I had used Sealskinz over the top, again, a great sock.

As this had been my most effective training combo,
Injinjis with Sealskinz over the top, this is what I went with. Many thought I was nuts as the sealskinz waterproof layers may leave my feet wrecked from trench foot, or generally soaked. I took five pairs of Injinjis and 2 pairs of sealskins. On day 1, I changed the injinjis at each checkpoint, but kept the same sealskinz. As the week progress I changed less regularly, but generally at least once in the day.

I never had a blister, a fair achievement given the time I spent out on the course! This worked for me, but as with shoes and clothing, socks are a highly personal and subjective piece of kit and you need to find out what works for you in training and stick to it.


Again, the rucksack of choice appears to be the Raidlight Sac Endurance, with or without front pack. I had used one of these in training quite successfully. When it came to packing, I preferred to have everything inside the rucksack on day 1, rather than having stuff strapped on the outside. As a consequence I went for the slightly larger Raidlight sac aventure, for the MdS itself, still with the front pack. There is clearly a weight cost of doing this, one I was happy with for comfort, but if you are shooting for a 6.5kg pack then the larger pack probably isn’t for you.

Unless the design has changed, the front pack tends to bounce around when you run. I found a front pack useful, as it saves digging around in the back of your rucksack everytime you want food or anything else. There were two popular solutions to solve the bouncing pack. I tied the elastic bungy cord on the pack to the cord of my shorts. Alternatively, others used small karibinas to hold down to top part, which also appeared to work well.

As an aside, I found the
Ambition Events store to be very efficient, generally getting next day delivery on this sort of stuff, whereas buying from the Raidlight site in France takes considerably longer. You can always call them (Rory Coleman) for advice, as well.

Sleeping bag

Again, rightly or wrongly, there appears to be three popular choices, the PHD minimus, Rab and Raidlight bags. None of these are particularly cheap, you will pay for a lightweight down bag. Whilst these appear to be the popular choices, there were plenty of people who went for cheaper alternatives.

The 2007 race was relatively early (22
nd March) and the nights were VERY cold. I had gone for the phd minimus, but had opted for a bigger fill to take the rating up to -5 degrees, mainly so I would get some use out of the bag again in the future for other, colder trips. Again there was a weight cost to this (another 200g, but it all adds up as everything sees to be only a couple of hundred grammes!). In this instance, a worthy investment as I was the only member of my tent that appeared not to suffer from the cold at night, although as the farthest removed from a ‘racing snake’, I came with natural defences anyway!!

Sleeping mat

The truly weight conscious took no sleeping mat. I went for a ¾ length Thermarest, which again appears to be a popular choice. One or two went for the balloon bed (Alex in my tent), but aside from providing the tent with headgear or the odd sausage dog, it was generally deemed to be a pain in the arse, but certainly the lightest option if you want some form of mat.


No chance, even I drew the line here! I used Zip-Loc bags to carry my food etc. An inflated Zip-loc bag (patented by our female tent member, Alex) proved to be a comfortable and weight free option.


I took Micro pore tape for my feet, Betadine (iodine), a needle and thread for blister treatment, Compeed (very contentious – some hate it, I found it useful to patch my only real problem, a ‘hole’ in my foot from an old blister). I also took some ibuprofen and paracetamol, which also proved useful.

The medical team will give you treatment and may also provide you with what you need to treat yourself, but they may not be there mid-stage when you need to tape your feet.


As a base layer I wore Nike Pro, shorts and top. The top, because I felt that two layers would eliminate any chaffing from the rucksack. I never had an issue on this front, but that isn’t necessarily an endorsement! The shorts also proved to be my best solution from chaffing in training.

My shorts were a cycling style running short, Adidas climacool. They fell apart on Day 1, so I wouldn’t take them again, although I would choose a similar style short, which again I found to be the most comfortable. The top was a lightweight, short-sleeved running top.

Hat, a standard issue sahara hat (peak cap with skirt). I also wore a buff to cover up, great for sand storms and sun protection.

I bought a tyvek suit from Raidight. Essentially a 100g decorating suit with separate pants and top. I changed into these each night to ‘air’ my body, and also wore the top on the night stage. Very popular with the French, less so with the Brits. I certainly would take these again, but difficult to argue the merits of this over say a long sleeve Helly Hanson, and vice versa.

Still a work in progres........