One of the great things about running a supported race such as the West Highland Way is that you don't have to carry much. A water bottle and a couple of Mars Bars seems to be the norm for most of the people you see, probably less than you take on a typical day out training, and this means that the running is pretty enjoyable. A glance at some of the leaders in the American events suggests that even items such as shirts and hats are superfluous if you can rely on your team turning up with anything you might need at the next aid station.
Now go along to an unsupported event and it's a different game. You first carry everything the organisers insist you take, which is usually quite a lot of stuff. If you're like me you then throw in everything that you think you might need, or that might make your journey a bit more pleasant (a small flask of your distillation of choice for example to see you through the hard times...) and you end up STUFF. Yes it feels like capital letters. Stuff that makes breaking into a jog on anything other than a significant downhill a decidedly unattractive proposition.
So I was quite surprised to see on Jez Bragg's blog that he thought the introduction of a minimum weight of rucsac rule for the UTMB races was a good thing as it would stop people "travelling light". Now the minimum weight is, wait (or should I say weight) for it, ONE KG! (or 2kg including a litre of water as you leave each aid station). I have jackets that must weigh more than a kilogramme, so I've clearly been getting something wrong here. So I decided to be a bit more scientific and see what I could get the weight of my pack down to.
First, here are the "obligatory" items
Rucsac 487g (one of the smallest Raidlight ones with all the stuff I don't use cut off)
Waterproof Jacket 224g
2 torches with batteries 130g
1 set of spare batteries 35g
Space blanket 35g
Bladder and tube 93g
Emergency food (say 2 gels) 66g
This lot comes to nearly 1300g. Personally, I wouldn't go without a light fleece, warm hat and gloves,a few blister plasters and some vaseline, and a bit more food than this, adding on another 500g or so, so just how do these guys do it?
But at least the exercise has got me down to a pack of around 2kg (3kg with water), so I'll leave out the manhole cover and 2 extra sandbags and see if it makes a difference this time.