by Mike Morris, Vermont Spartan Beast/Ultra Beast Race Director

Just about one month left until race-day.  Hopefully you’ve taken preparing for this event seriously and are looking forward to one of the hardest obstacle courses of the year.  The course will be harder than last year and the self-supported nature (i.e. ONE water station) will add an element that even the most seasoned racers won’t necessarily be accustomed to.

Preparing should be looked at from multiple angles: preparing your body physically, preparing your mind mentally, and selecting and getting comfortable with the best possible gear.

Physical preparation means hours on your feet, getting comfortable ascending and descending, building full body strength and power so you can attack the obstacles (there will be some good new ones).

Mental preparation means understanding what is ahead of you and being convinced that you will do the best you can and conquer your goal.  Anything less and you have set yourself up for failure from the start.

Having the right gear will allow you to focus on the race.  Having the wrong gear will distract you and add even more challenge.  You should be very comfortable with three pieces of gear as you toe the start line: Shoes, a headlamp, and a Hydration Pack.

inov-8 Trailroc 245

Shoes:  Don’t pick them based on color, the latest fad, or what someone else says.  Pick one that fits well, has the level of traction you want, and the level of protection you want.  Protection comes in the form of a beefier shank and beefed up toe-box and sides for those accidental root/rock strikes.

inov-8 is the official shoe of Spartan Race.  When we asked them what they thought would be the perfect shoe for the Ultra Beast, here is what they had to say at inov-8 HQ, “Inov-8s grip on slippery surfaces, drain mud and water quickly, and fit snug to your foot so they won’t get left behind on any obstacles. Different styles provide different amounts of cushion and heel to toe drop depending on personal preference. The Roclite 295, Roclite 285, x-talon 212, and the Trailroc series are all great options for tackling 26 miles of obstacles.”

Headlamp:  A headlamp will be required gear to pass certain parts of the course after a certain time.  It gets dark at about 6:45pm and the course will be open until 10pm (time subject to change).  Light means speed and safety.  Pick one that can handle bad weather, is light, is comfortable on your head, and provides sufficient illumination.

Hydration Pack:  The single water station will be approximately half-way through the 12+ mile course.  There will also be two ponds that you could pull water from if needed.  You must have some sort of water source as you cross the start line (mandatory gear).  If you skimp on this then you will suffer.  I highly recommend the use of a hydration pack over other options.  I’ve used many brands and I’ve recently fallen in love with a particular product that I think would be perfect for the BEAST: the Geigerrig 500.  This pack stands out from others for many reasons:

  •  A pressurized bladder system… the first time I’ve ever seen this and perfect for when you don’t want to put your mouth on the bite-valve, if you need to share your water, or if you need to clean out some dirty eyes!  Just squeeze the bite valve and it squirts.
  • You can add an in-line water filter.  It’s light and small and if it’s hot out this would allow you to pull water from those ponds.  Could be HUGE on race day!
  • Two external compression straps are great for synching down the pack (just don’t do it too hard or you’ll cut off your water-supply)
  • Removable Hip Strap
  • Ballistic Nylon (if you get the black one) will stand up to the abuse and  barbed wire
  • Internal (removable) lightweight back-plate adds some structure and support to the pack
  • Enough internal space to add a small jacket and some calories.
  • Webbing on the back for those Ultra-Beast teams that are considering towing as part of their movement strategy.
  • 70oz bladder should cover most of your needs (plan to be hydrated when you start.)

Additionally, the hydration system has a lifetime warranty for leakage and a 2 year warranty for manufacture defects in workmanship.  Here are two videos that demonstrate the durability of the system..something important for Ultra Beast Spartan Racers.

a)      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd48bBwLIUA  (Demonstrates a RIG 500 Ballistic)

b)      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SwL7xUb4Ao   (Demonstrates a RIG 500 Ballistic)

I was going to create a nice video review but found one online already that covers everything: Click HERE to watch the review.

After finding this awesome pack, we reached out to Geigerrig and explained the BEAST and they thought it would be the perfect event to team up with Spartan Race.  Their product offers a perfect solution to our racers needs (pressurized bladder, in-line filter, beefy design).  If you are registered for the BEAST, you should expect an email soon with a huge discount code for Geigerrig packs.

Most importantly, follow the golden rule of gear:  Don’t try something new on race-day!  Train like you are racing.

Good luck.

There is still time to register for the Spartan Beast in Killington, VT.  Go HERE to secure your spot!  Want to take on the Ultra Beast?  Email ultrabeast@spartanrace.com with your race resume and you could still be accepted.  See you on the mountain.

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