Pre-game: Ultra Trail Kosciusko

If there is one thing that runners embarking on the Ultra Trail Kosciusko are worried about ahead of the big dance next weekend it’s snow.
Australia’s highest peak still has a dusting after getting unseasonal snow a few weeks ago. That snow has now mostly melted down to sludge and mud, a trail runners wet dream, Pardon the pun.

There is nothing we can do about the weather, that’s why we train in all the ridiculous conditions that might bamboozle us on race day and why we prepare for the best and the worst on both ends of the spectrum with race gear, the second most fretted over agenda item on the Ultra Trail Kosciusko Facebook group.
Having been running trail ultras for a while now, I’ve collected and used most of the mandatory gear listed on the event website, worn it and carried it in training.
For this race, it’s a whole heap of stuff that once in my pack, has my race pack weighing between 5 and 6 kg!
It’s 2L of water, thermals, water proof jacket, fleece, high vis vest, safety gear like a compass, space blanket and whistle, headlamps, gloves and beanie, and a list of other random things that most runners usually have but are being mandated like a zip lock bag for rubbish and a dry sack to keep your stuff dry.

Ultra long story short, it’s a lot of gear, but in the mountains you never know what you are going to get.

I have:

  • Salomon S Lab 12 L vest with 2 L bladder and 2x 500ml bottles
  • Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket 
  • Mountain Design long sleeve unisex thermals
  • North Face TKA Glazier 1/4 zip fleece
  • Petal Nao + headlamp
  • Ultra spire spare light (from my waist belt)
  • XTM thermal gloves and beanie
  • Garmin Fenix 6x Sapphire (which doubles as a compass)
  • Giant orange fluro vest from Bunnings (get big to go over your pack)
  • Waterproof pants borrowed from the hubby because mine are giant

I pack all my kit into individual zip lock labelled bags so it’s easy to grab out if it has to be checked by a race official or if I’m tired and loosing my mind 80km into a race. (Spoiler alert: I might also be experimenting with the old vacuum seal for this race too)

Then everything that I don’t intend to use gets packed into the dry sack, least likely to use at the bottom to most likely to be used at the top. Sorry waterproof pants, you are always at the bottom and the first aid kit is usually at the top. 

Weather Forecast for Crackenback- Not even the top of the mountain!

My mandatory kit is pretty much the same no matter what the race and thankfully I’ve never really needed to use it. I’ve worn my fleece once (Berry Long Run- it totally snowed) and my jacket at Old Ghost one year when the rain came in on top of the mountain. 

I’ve never worn the thermals, top or bottom, or the water proof pants, the gloves or the beanie. 

But with the weather forecast looking slightly nippy, I’ve made sure to pack a lot more warm gear in my drop bags and to wear from the start. 

Of course I’m also taking my lucky Happy Runner hat, sunnies, hiking poles and the trusty Go Pro (because Instagram). 

Drop bag goodies

Each drop bag will have extra socks, extra gloves and an extra buff as well as the usual snacks, paw paw and wipes. I’ll also add extra warm clothes layers. I don’t usually change shoes or socks but I don’t usually run in snow either so better to be prepared. I found last time I did a super cold race, that it was the cold and wet gloves and buff that make life really difficult, so having extra of these is essential for me. 

There’s three spots for drop bags, Charlottes Pass at 37km (after you go up the big cold mountain on the mandatory walking section), Sponars Chalet at 66km and the last one at Sawpit Creek at about 80k. I’ll also be popping in extra real food like potatoes, lollies, instant noodles, chips and fruit buns. I never know what I will want and aid stations have fresh fruit which usually hits the spot but real food is good when its super cold. 

The checkpoints are kinda sporadic, which is slightly concerning to be honest, but I’m a lot more comfortable with it when the weather is not going to be hot. At some points it’s only 5km between aid stations whilst others are as much as 20km. From the last aid station to the finish line is just over 18km, which frankly is a bit rude. In the dark, that is going to be a long lonely stretch along the Thredbo River.

The benefit of driving to a race is you can pack the kitchen sink, just in case. With 6 days to go, I might have just done that. 

If I don’t panic post between now and race start, and you have actually made it to the end of this page, there is live tracking on the website (HERE) or via the Ultra Trail Kosciusko app. Race kicks off at 6am on Friday. I have bib number 1046. 

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