As I’ve been working on this post I’ve had a song in my head that goes a little something like this:

I’m going to an ultra marathon and in my suitcase I will pack: an apple,
some bandaids, a can of pop…  

Do you remember playing that game and singing it as a kid?  Except I’m pretty sure when we were little we sang it about a “vacation” not an “ultra marathon” but hey, things change as you get older.

I’m pretty good at packing a race bag, I know the things I need beforehand and I know what things I like to have waiting for me when I finish.  But packing for an ultra marathon is a whole different story.  This time my bag is not going to be sitting around while I’m out running.  No sir, I’m going to be running for so much longer than ever before that I will be giving my bag to our support team and going in and out of it at checkpoints every 5km or so.  Whoa, game changer.
Like a good little runner I’ve been talking to lots of people and doing lots of reading about what I should bring with me.  Not because I can’t figure out the necessities but because I’m hoping my soon-to-be fellow ultra marathoners might take pity on first-timer me and give me some tips.  And they have.  And I’m so thankful for their help.
Well, a first-timer’s opinion anyways…
In 4 more sleeps I am going to my first ultra marathon and in my bag I will pack…


  • Spare pair(s) of shoes
  • Extra pair(s) of socks
  • Extra shirts
  • A long sleeve shirt
  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • An extra Handana (lots to wipe over the course of 55km!)
  • Sunglasses
  • Garmin
  • iPod (just in case I need some extra pep in my step)
  • iPhone (gotta keep everyone updated and take photos!)
Medical/First Aid:
  • Pain relief meds
  • Lanacane anti-chafe (the best product out there, you should try it!)
  • Sunscreen
  • Chap stick
  • Baby wipes (as one runner put it “A clean ___ is a happy ___”)
  • Blister kit: needle, bandaids, mole skin
  • Sports tape
  • Muscle relief gel
  • Kleenex
  • Roll Recovery R8 (LOVE that thing)
  • Homemade-orade (recipe here)
  • Salt pills
  • Dried cherries, peaches, raisins and apricots
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Boiled salted potatoes (apparently a fave of Ray Zahab’s and mentioned by several others!)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches (I don’t really eat bread anymore but after 55km I’m game for anything!)
  • Bananas
  • Sports beans, gels, energy bars and Gatorade (as backups) 
  • Treats: chips, chocolate covered raisins, pretzels, banana bread, granola bars, chocolate milk, juice boxes
  • Lots of water
Lucky charms:
Bits of advice I’ve received so far:
  • Bring a sense of humour
  • If you think you’re going too slow, slow down some more
  • Fuelling is key. It works differently for everyone but bottom line is, you just have to do it.
  • Have fun, enjoy every moment
  • Drink, drink, eat, repeat
  • It’s all about the food
  • Ray will have all the magic goodies you need
  • Bring a donut
I’m planning to pack all of my extra gear in a knapsack and all of my food in a small cooler.
Have you ever run an ultra marathon before?  What do you think of my list?  Any suggestions or omissions?

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  1. Runner Leana    

    I cannot believe your ultra is this weekend! I hope you have a blast!!

    1. Nikki Scott    

      I kinda can’t believe it either. Yikes! It might not be pretty but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be fun…


    This is amazing! I’m going to have to bookmark this for when I do an ultra in a few years. Good luck! Ultra marathoners are badass!

    1. Nikki Scott    

      Thanks! I agree, ultra marathoners ARE badass so let’s hope I survive to the finish line of mine so that I can include myself in their company! :)

  3. Tina Fab    

    AWESOME list. at first I was thinkin that there was no TP…but you have that covered in baby wipes and kleenex. lol.

  4. Anne    

    As one newbie to a soon to be newbie, check your races info for what food they will have. I found that mine had EVERYTHING I could possibly want except for my Nuun tablets (which I had, of course). Didn’t need any extra fuel. Towel(s) for afterward to wipe off the mud/water, etc.

    If it’s something you *might* need, throw it in your drop bag. Never hurts to over pack :)

    And last…walk BEFORE you need to.

    Good luck and ENJOY the race!!!

    1. Nikki Scott    

      Such great advice, thank you! Our event is limited to just our invited team of runners so we’ve been given pretty clear instructions on what we need to bring food-wise etc. However, I heard from some of last year’s runner that our elite guide runner brings a pretty big smorgasboard to share! And I’m glad to hear about the overpacking – I was kind of worried I had too much, so thank you!

  5. Jess    

    Baby wipes are a good call. I value them deeply for all uses.

  6. Abby    

    I have never done an ultra, but a 50K appeals to me… a 50 or 100 miler not so much. However, I really respect people who can do them.

    1. Nikki Scott    

      Yes, I think 55km is going to have to be ultra enough for this mama! Huge respect but I’ll probably stick to the sidelines or volunteering at those 50’s and 100’s!

  7. Krista @ Read. Bake. Run. Repeat.    

    Ummm I don’t see French Fries on this list?!

    1. Nikki Scott    

      You know I’d pack some if they’d stay warm and crispy but I’m going to just have to hope that someone takes pity on me and pops up somewhere with some! Ha ha.

  8. lonely_no_more    

    Hi there! Thank you for the helpful information. Ill be running my first ultra 2 weeks from now and im a little scared and probably will be the last one. :) any advice to calm my nerves?

    1. Nikki Scott    

      Awesome, your first ultra! It’s okay to be scared bc that all just turns into excitement and energy the day of. My best advice is to spend what time you can preparing ahead of time so that you leave as little as possible to worry about on race day. Head off and don’t go out too fast. Find a comfortable pace and enjoy the ride because running that far is a pretty amazing thing. You will love it.

  9. Nuria    

    Thank You, thank you thank you!!! I am running my first ultra (fifty miles) in eight days and I am finishing last details!!! Awesome advice!

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