Running Socks

How many pairs of best trail running socks have you tried and tested so far?

You might be lucky to have found the perfect pair already. For most ultrarunners, having to deal with blisters on a regular basis is very common.

Some people naturally have dry skin and are less prone to blisters (I can call myself lucky!) while others suffer even on short runs developing friction burns.

This reminds me of the war stories that some runners could tell about their feet in the desert. Some runners’ feet swelled up to the size of a small ball and blisters covered the whole foot. In those cases there isn’t a lot you can do when heat and sand come into play. Maybe the best socks could have eased some of the discomforts.

Yet, I believe everyone prepared the best they could in order to minimise the risks of suffering from blistery feet.

Tricks of the Trail

Trail runners can be a crafty lot, and ultrarunners rely on even more MacGyver-like skills to stay comfortable over miles on end. The littlest—or strangest-looking—piece of gear can make a big difference on a long run. Here are a few tricks from the gear bag seen on some of the best trail running gaiters, and what they can do for you.

SaltStick Mini Capsule Dispenser, $19.95
Electrolyte capsules, taken with water, can help a runner keep up their salt intake. They’re quick to digest, and sometimes easier to get down than an equivalent amount of sports drink, but small pills aren’t always easy to access—and keep clean and safe—while on a run. Originally designed to fit inside mountain and road bike handlebars, this creative little dispenser holds electrolyte capsules and dispenses them trough the red plastic opening with a quick twist. It comes with a clip that holds the dispenser and attaches easily to a waist belt, race bib or hand-held water-bottle holder. This mini version holds just three capsules (either SaltStick capsules, or any other brand), while the larger version holds six capsules.
OUR TEST: The twisting required to access a pill can be tricky and takes some practice, and is very hard to do while wearing gloves.

BONUS: Carrying the dispenser reminds you to take pills regularly, a bonus, especially on hot race days.

15 bits of kit to make you want to run an ultra

Tackling an ultra marathon this year? Making the right decision on what kit to use is important not only for your enjoyment of the experience, but also potentially the difference between finishing or falling short of achieving this extraordinary goal. Ultra running athlete and journalist Fergus Scholes gives us the rundown of his best ultra running gear picks, having just road tested them on the gruelling 280km, six-day Trans Atlas Ultra Marathon.

1. Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0

Cost: £140

A versatile and super lightweight option (330g), this pack ticks all the minimalist boxes yet still offers up a whopping 11.5L of storage with great comfort and fit. There’s a multitude of pockets and pouches, most notably on the front where you find two good-sized bottle holsters (500ml each) positioned higher up to avoid annoying movement as you run. There’s also plenty of room for your iPhone, bars and gels, head torch, buff etc. Expandable pockets on the side are a handy extra for a variety of items.