This is a short story about Tim. Tim was an enthusiastic adventurer of an impulsive-ignorant nature. One day he went on an epic running journey. This journey was so epic that he got lost and due to poor planning became hypothermic. The End.
This story about Tim is a sadistic joke, which is famous in the SA ultra-running community. It reminds us, that when the going gets tough - Tim had it tougher, which seems to lighten the mood and motivates the soldiering on.
So, what can we learn from Tim?
Well, firstly don’t get lost or hypothermia. But more seriously, prepare for everything, on all running adventures.
Here are some golden precautions one should take before a mountain adventure:
1. Plan your route and know where you’re going. This is particularly important so you don’t end up getting lost (like Tim) or end up running a 100km when you are only prepared for a little trot.
2. Share your route and tell someone where you are running or better; get a running buddy, other
than your dog with no thumbs.
3. Educate yourself about the area you are planning to run, with info like refilling points, weather patterns, possible animal encounters and behaviour, general route safety and escape routes.
4. Check the weather and dress accordingly. Remember, mountain weather is unpredictable, extreme and can change in an instant. So, always plan for extreme weather and pack a thermal base layer, waterproof jacket and buff or beanie. If you are struggling with cold Hands, always carry gloves. If you are planning to overnight, pack waterproof pants and some sort of shelter. These items are extremely important under circumstances of survival, when you get injured while isolated and the weather turns loco.
5. If your research has shown that the terrain is relentless, with inevitable bushwhacking, make sure you pack protective gear for your arms and legs, as well as gaiters to keep sticks and stones from entering your shoes.
6. In case of extreme UV conditions, ensure that you apply sufficient sun cream with a visor for face and head protection.
7. Pack a basic card sized medical kit, which include adhesive bandage/strapping, pain killers, anti-chafe, hydrate powder and a space blanket. These kits are generally personalised and should be able to assist you under a medical situation, such as a fall, cut, sprain, blisters, chafing, hypothermia or dehydration. Some people like to be extra well prepared and will include cable ties, as well as a knife, for when they need to MacGuyver something.
8. Always pack a fully charged headlamp. This is a lifesaver if you run a little longer than expected and tend to be ridiculously night blind. I recommend visiting informed outdoor specialist such as Drifters Adventure to get key night-time gear and advise).
9. Pack a fully charged phone (on flight mode); not only for the good old running selfie, but to let your people know what’s up.
10. Pack enough food/energy and water for the duration of your journey, as well as an emergency stash, for when you do find yourself in Tim’s shoes. Best to visit a real specialist store and tell them your route or race, they will be be able to advise on what you should have with you. Visit RUN, there is not much these guys don't know about running.
11. Take some sort of running vest/pack/belt with, which can be used to stash all these lovely items in. Please note that your pack will be on your shoulders or waist and need to be comfortable and fitted to make your journey as enjoyable as possible. Make sure that an easy accessible whistle is fixed to your pack, so you can do the “Titanic Rose” blow, in case of an emergency evacuation event. I use the AK 3.0 Vest from Ultimate Direction, which allows me to carry up to 3L of water, store all my essentials and has an attached safety whistle.
12. Then lastly, put on your favourite pair of socks (I use Injinji), your greatest pair of trail running shoes (Superior 3.0 pictured above), your sadistic sense of humour and go and enjoy the most epic run of your life.