As the Race Season gets under way and we begin heading out to showfields, village halls and draughty carparks all over the country; supplying you guys with all those last minute race essentials and race day bargains, we thought we'd take a little time to outline what exactly you need to carry under FRA rules and to generally stay safe in the hills.
- Map: Race Organisers will sometimes provide these but more likely you will have to bring your own. Go for a waterproof map with the route premarked...like our own race maps.
- Compass (and the knowledge of how to use it!): Weather can change rapidly on the hills at any time of year so always be sure to carry one. Though knowing just the basics will get you out of most situations, even if you don't, somebody who comes to your assistance might.
- Whistle: Pretty self-explanatory this one, you may need to attract someone's attention in an emergency or attend an illegal rave in 1993.
- Hat & Gloves: Though you might be running in the height of summer, you should always carry head and hand cover. You might not need them while running but don't underestimate how cold it can get if you have to slow down or stop on the summits, plus the body's temperature can fall rapidly if it goes into shock following an injury.
- Waterproof Full Body Cover: This means a waterproof jacket, with hood and taped seams and a pair of waterproof trousers, also with taped seams. Again, you probably won't wear them while running, unless its really grim but if you have to slow down or stop for any reason, they can be a real life saver.
You can either go for superlight racing ones that you'll hopefully never wear (these tend to be less breathable/durable) or for slightly heavier but more durable kit that you can use in training too. Some people will have two sets to avoid this compromise. There is a huge range of waterproofs available, all ours are guaranteed FRA approved.
- Bumbag/Race Vest: Its frowned upon to go round the course with all your kit in an old ASDA bag so most runners opt for a Bumbag but increasingly people are using Race Vests on longer races, these tend to be slightly more comfortable with a greater capacity.
- Fell Shoes: Many races stipulate that you must wear suitable footwear, usually an aggressive fell shoe suitable for soft/loose ground. What people are prepared to run in is quite a personal thing but as a rule of thumb, road racing flats are out.
In addition to this kit, some race organisers may ask you to carry a couple of other bits, such as;
- Emergency Food: Particularly on long runs, this usually means a bar of some kind, this must be in addition to any food you intend to eat en route.
- Emergency Blanket/Bivvy Bag: This isn't often stipulated but is certainly worth having if spending extended time in the mountains. It can be used to keep a casualty warm, sheltering in sudden storms or attracting attention.
- Extra warm layer: Some early and late season races require you to carry an extra long-sleeve layer such as a fleece or thick baselayer.
- Bottle/Cup/Soft Flask: Again more for longer races, especially in hot weather. Carrying a bottle or cup will allow you to fill up at streams or aid stations then keep moving. Despite all the dire warnings above about the weather turning cold and wet even in summer, it can also be very hot and heat exhaustion is a known killer.