Black Diamond Competition!

I am fortunate to announce the second competition in conjunction with Black Diamond. This time around the guys and girls from Ram Mountaineering have sponsored me a Black Diamond Icon Headlamp worth R 730! This is an awesome headlamp which throws a massive beam that has served me well during all my night training and several Bat Runs. I can truly recomend it!

All you have to do is guess my finish time at the UTMB. Post your predicted time in a comment below. The person with the closest time wins. I will announce the winner early Sept when I am back in Cape Town. Please tell your friends to enter. I promise I have no interest in who puts down what and I won’t be offended if you put down a DNF. A hint: the fastest times are around 21h, I am aiming for 30 – 36h and the cut off is 46h. Take your pick!

If you are interested in following the goings on during the event check out the website here. They have loads of info if you scratch around a bit.

To check on my status during the event it will be easiest to search under South Africa and then fill in my whole name (Leonhard RUST). Not sure how this works yet but I am sure you will work it out.

There are some interesting videos on the “Get Ready For” page. With one of the top guys from last year giving advice. Some cool footage too.

Oh My decision is final and I will ship the prize to the winner free of charge in SA.

Black Diamond Sprint Headlamp early review

Disclaimer: I personally believe the more light the better when running at night. It may be a boy thing to compare beam size but I don’t want to be left stumbling around in the dark – ever! More is almost always better in this case! I would also advise to buy the most powerful headlamp that you can afford.

So it was with a fair bit of sceptisism that I tested the Black Diamond “Urban Inspired” Sprinter. From a design perspective the Sprinter looks fantastic and rather futuristic compared to most headlamps or as Mel likes to call them: “doos liggies”. The Sprinter fells balanced on your head with the battery pack on the back. It also does not feel too heavy.

Features which set the Sprinter apart include flashing red backlight (which can be switched off if somebody is running behind you) and the main beam has a really nice seamless dimmer switch which I have not seen before. Basically hold the switch down and it quickly gets brighter, flashes briefly when at its max then dims to its dimmest setting (another quick flash). The biggest unique feature is that the battery is a rechargeable mobile phone style battery. It is more eco friendly in that you don’t have loads of disposable batteries. The problem is that with longer runs at night you are not able to exchange batteries and keep going. The other minus for me was that the beam has a diffuser lens in front of it but more of that below. The beam on the Sprinter is bright enough for most things. Certainly good enough for aspirant Comrades warriors needing to see and be seen for long training runs during the wee hours. Also perfectly adequate for many trail adventures where navigation or seriously technical terrain is not an issue. In fact my test model seems to claim its space quite nicely on the recharge console on my desk at work- right next to the Blackberry, I pod and Laptop! This is exactly the niche market I see the Sprinter doing really well in.

As far as the physical testing goes it is sometimes best to take an item to be tested way out of its comfort zone to find its real limitations and plus points. So off we were on a late night run up Devil’s Peak in pretty bad weather. Comfort, ease of use, light weight, nods from other runners all get a +. The big problem was that under the really bad conditions of our run. The diffuser did not give me enough shadows to make me feel steady enough on my feet. In more normal conditions at an average paced run it would probably have done ok.

In short:

+ Design and integration of elements like connector from battery to LED into the head strap.

+ The seamless dimmer is awesome.

+ I like the fact that the rechargeable battery is more environmentally friendly.

– Rechargeable battery. Cannot deal with all night runs. I have not tested the exact duration of the lamp to its limit but it was absolutely fine for a couple of hours.

– Diffuser on the beam does not give adequate shadow in adverse conditions.

Who should buy this: The runner (and cyclist) who wants to be visible on the road and do moderate trail runs lasting a couple of hours.

Gear Choices for the Skyrun 2009:

Essential Gear used:

Merino Wool Buff: Rapidly becoming my favourite cold weather headwear option. I only ended up wearing this when the pace slowed down or when we stopped at Breslins. Will def be in the pack for emergencies.

Julbo Instinct Zebra: I have used these for a really long time and they do not scratch or break. The most hardcore sunnies I have ever owned.

Montrail Running Cap: I love this cap however it did not provide adequate cover (especially for the back of my neck). I will look at other options for this summer and for events which go on into the mid day sun.

CAPESTORM Running T and A3 shorts: These are faithful companions. We had to wear a race bib over the top of this with our race no’s and sponsors logo on them. This made it quite hot. At the Otter I decided to not wear my normal T shirt underneath in order to keep as cool as possible. Due to being exposed to more UV for the whole day I erred on the side of caution here.

Mountain Hardwear Fluid 18: Sample Pack about to be launched in early 2010. It is a bit heavier than other packs but I find it super comfortable due to the frame sheet in it. Has plenty of compartments and pockets to store all the essentials.

Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket: Lightweight (413g) and no frills. I wore this once on top of the Bridal path when dark. I thought that it would not be breathable enough to deal with fast walking but it worked perfectly.

Helly Hansen Base layer. There is no other base layer which wicks as well as this. It is also surprisingly cool in hot weather. A favourite. (If conditions were cooler I would take a second base layer. This is ligther, warmer and more versatile than a thin fleece. Conditions were very warm so I decided not to take this.)

Sunscrean and UV lipbalm: Absolute must. I got burnt despite reapplying frequently.

Bodyglide Sun Formula: anti chafe for feet, thighs, underarms. Works great. I only got blisters on my feet where I did not apply before the event.

Garmin Fortrex 401: Only user replaceable battery operated running unit. On long events like this you will need it most when it is dark, you are tired and you have been running for 15+ hours. No other unit would work here. (The battery life on all these units is rather optimistic especially if you are using the navigation functionality.)

Black Diamond Headlamp: Buy the best you can afford. The brighter the beam the more time you save in tricky situations.

Unusual:

Gardening Gloves: A tip from fellow runners. I found mine to be super sweaty so I ended up taking them off continuously between fence crossings. I would definitely take these again. Possibly consider cycling gloves. Either way you want to cover your hands against the nasty rusty barbs.

Gear not used but essential:

First Aid Kit:

• 4 Myprodol (My thoughts are that you can pop a couple of those and either suck it up and walk out of there, or you need a copper anyway.)

• Loo paper (loose and in a zip lock bag)

• A pair of Surgical Gloves. Just in case of real blood.

• Space blanket

• Selection of Plasters

• Whistle

• Super glue. In case you really get cut badly. That is the theory anyway. Not sure if I would be brave enough to glue my leg together. It only weighs about 2 g.

Compass: Would def pack a med sized compass if conditions were threatening. I have a GPS with built in compass so this would just be a backup.

GPS with last year’s route programme in or at very least coordinates for check points. In future this will help to choose a reasonable route. And yes there are improvements to be made on the route I took. There will be improvements in the future…

For Transition:

Spare socks: The only time I really got my socks (and shoes) completely wet was a few hundred meters before Balloch. I did not want to change shoes here but changing socks only was good enough to keep my feet relatively comfortable. Having said this I did get some blisters on my heels (the wet definitely contributed to this). I also did not wear the ideal socks for the second half.

CAPESTORM Motion tights: some warmth for the legs. Not used.

Black garbage bin bag : Just in case we need to sit down in bad conditions. This in combination with my waterproof and space blanket will give more shelter from wind and worse. Weighs nothing. Also helps waterproof warm layers in case of inclement weather.

As a result I did not get a chance to test and become familiar with my Garmin. I am playing with it now and will work it out for myself before next year’s event. I am psyched to use this great gadget going forward.

Nutrition and Hydration:

Pre Race Nutrition: Peanut Butter Sarmie. I had to force this down way early in the morning. It just sat in my stomach for a few hours.

Race Nutrition and Hydration: First 4 hours I used some Hammer Perpetuem. I could only stomach the taste for that long. In fact even that was a push. Then came the Mule Bars. I carried much more than I needed here (12 hours worth on both legs- I would do the same in future). Altitude definitely played a part in suppressing appetite. I planned on 1 every hour (split into two halves every 30 min). I love the variety of tastes and hence do not get bored and actually look forward to the next bite.

Cashew nuts mixed with jelly babies and speckled eggs. Really great trail mix. Salty and sweet together just cleans the palate. I snacked on a ziplock of this coming down towards Balloch as my appetite returned with the lower altitude.

Camelbak 3l bladder: I filled this to 2,5L at each refill and dropped two Zym Lime tabs into it. I also carried 600ml water/Zym Catapult mixture in a water bottle. I still feel this really kicks. As a result I sipped the Catapult while drinking from my bladder in order not to get too much of a spike and drop afterward. I had a spare bottle once I had finished my Perpetuem just in case filling up at streams was going to be an issue. In future I would seriously consider carrying a straw if conditions were looking dry. 2L bladder size is the minimum volume that I would go with here. I ended up drinking about 10l of this mixture throughout the event. This was about right.