Mandatory Gear Talk with John Ellis & Marie McNaughton

Posted on June 23 2017

Mandatory Gear Talk with John Ellis & Marie McNaughton

For every race, it's important to train and be both physically and mentally ready for the grind to the finish line. The truth of this is amplified tenfold when doing ultras of the 100km variety and, of course, things get exponentially harder with each additional mile. 

Most of us will most likely never become elite runners because it just seems that they have that extra something to propel them to top of the podium. Could it be genetics? Training? Nutrition? We can debate this subject for days, but I know there is one thing that we mere mortals can be at least on par with the elites. Gear. More specifically mandatory gear for ultra races.

Today, we ask two Hong Kong based elite runners, who are no strangers to podiums, what their mandatory gear consist of. Australian, John Ellis and New Zealander, Marie McNaughton, share what gear works for them and give some insight as to why they have chosen these particular products.


John Ellis

Mandatory Gear for Eiger Ultra Trail, 101km, 6700m of Total Elevation

Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra 8 Set (with 2x soft flasks, whistle)
When a backpack is actually in the mandatory gear, sigh. This is the lightest racing vest on the market, clever design with the pockets, and more than enough space to fit your mandatory gear.

Naked Running Belt

Not mandatory gear but I love the easy access and great for stowing your poles as well.
Newmind F1 MINI Race Phone
It's only 20 grams and sure beats lugging a 110 gram iPhone around.
AWOO Space Blanket

Does the job and you can even cut off the slight excess versus race requirements.

Berghaus Extem Men's Waterproof Jacket
It's 20 grams heavier than the old smock version but the half zip was a pain and still only 100 grams so much lighter than anything else, plus meets all the Eiger-UTMB requirements on waterproofness, breathability, sealed seams and hood.
WAA Multi Function Foulard
These are great for everything - keeping your head warm (30% of heat loss), keeping your headtorch stable, or sweat rag during the day.
Alpinamente 3264m Sunglasses
European Alpine conditions can get pretty bright so eye protection is a must. Alpinamentes are super comfy and fit great, as well as being anti-glare and hydrophobic so the sweat just rolls off the lenses. Besides, it's not how fast you run but how cool you look! 
Try to use as much checkpoint food as possible as it's less weight to carry, but Tailwind is my super trusty base fuel. Tastes great all day and no gut bombs.
GreenRace Ultra SpeedCup

Only 10 grams and can take hot liquids (up to 60C), unlike other cups.

Lupine Neo with spare 3.3Ah battery

It's not cheap but such a great head torch. 900 lumens of power for steep or technical trail, super reliable and comfortable (<200 grams with battery) and lasts all night at 30% power with the 3.3Ah battery.

2XU Run Gloves

 Warm down to 8C and still thin enough so your fingers can grab and hold.


 Any brand will do. These will be lighter than any proper long running tights you can find by a long margin. If you plan on going slower, a proper pair could be useful for warmth though.

Berghaus Men's Vapourlight Hypertherm Reversible Hoody

 Just meets the minimum 150 gram weight requirement and can be worn inside out for extra ventilation. Great combo of lightweight and warm.

Gipron 310 Mont Blanc Carbon 4

 I love these sticks and wouldn't consider taking them to Eiger with 101km but a whopping 6,700m of climbing. At less than 120g per pole, they are lighter than any other foldable poles on the market, very strong and easy to take out and put away.


Marie McNaughton

Mandatory Gear for UTMB's TDS, 119km, 7200m of Total Elevation

Salomon S-LAB Advanced Skin 12 Set Backpack

3x 500ml soft flasks (1 spare) + Whistle + Space Blanket (comes with the pack)

Some of the checkpoints in TDS are quite spread out, and last year the weather was very warm, so even though the mandatory gear list says 1 litre, I would probably carry 3x500ml soft flasks to have one in reserve. If all goes well, you can get through a race without taking pack off (gear checks aside…)

For the longer races, the extra large back pocket which is reachable reduces the need to ever take the pack off. I’ll store any gear I might need here and in the zip side pockets.

The new version is the: Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra 8 Set also works.

Newmind F1 MINI Race Phone
It's only 20 grams, and will be fine in an emergency, helps reduce the temptation to get your iPhone out! However, if you like mid race selfies you may need to re-think.

iPod Shuffle (12.5 grams) + Cord Cruncher Headphones

For those that need music.
Salomon Soft Cup
If I can get away with it, I’ll use the third soft flask as my 'cup.'  Otherwise I’ll take the super lite and small Salomon soft cup.
Lupine Piko Headlamp

With one 3.3Ah and one 2.0Ah smart core battery, this headlamp is super comfy and gives plenty of intel on battery life and a heads up on when its drained so you can run without fear of darkness.  One battery would probably do it for the TDS night (on a lower setting), but I prefer to carry a spare so I can really enjoy the higher setting for most of the night. A bright torch when you’re feeling tired in the early hours of the morning can outweigh the benefit of the extra battery weigh.

 1xLED Lenser K1L Flashlight + spare batteries as a back-up torch. Only 10grams this will stay in the back of the pack (hopefully) the entire race.

Salomon Race Visor
Keeping the sun out of the eyes can really help reduce the impact of heat on the body (or perceived impact at least) so I’d recommend a cap over bandana.  This cap is super lite at only 18 grams but still offers decent sun protection.
Icebreaker Merino Oasis Glove liners teamed with the Raidlight Ultralight Shell Mitts 
This combination will meet the warm and waterproof requirements with minimal bulk and weight.  The merino gloves are so small and lightweight (20g) that they are great to put on early evening and morning to take the chill off the hands. The mitts should meet the waterproof requirement, and pack away to nothing at only 21grams.
Icebreaker Merino women's tech top long sleeve crewe

100% merino wool will keep you toasty warm even when wet and with minimal weight it breathes well. This mid-weight base layer weighs in at around 200g so will meet the 180 minimal requirement.

Footless nylon 40 denier tights 
Just to pass the long trouser gear requirements.  If conditions get bad, you have the high spec waterproof pants to unlikely to need both for warmth. Keeping the upper body, head and hands toasty is the main concern so don't skimp in these areas. You can always put warmer heavier pants in your drop-bag just in case.
The Northface Flight Series Ultra-light Hooded Jacket
I have a discontinued North face jacket from a few seasons ago. It meets the taped seems requirement and is under 100 grams, no pockets and just enough room so that I can get in on over my backpack. It's worth investing in a quality extra lite rain jacket

WAA Ultra Light Pants

Only 65grams pack down into a  small pocket, fashion black!


Well, there you have it. Some excellent wisdom into what the pros use in two of the most prestigious races on the planet. Pantyhose? Really? Excellent planning in my opinion. As for the phone, I can already hear the volunteers at the gear checkpoint say, "Sir/Madam, I need to see your phone, not your Hot Wheels toy car." 

I am sure we can use some of their invaluable advice for upcoming challenges. However, to be on the cautious side, bear in mind that John and Marie will most likely finish a race before most of us do. Thus, what may work for them, might not work for someone who takes one and a half or double the time they take to cross the finish line. 

The Gear and Options

Click here to view and purchase some of the mandatory gear that John and Marie use. Furthermore, if you are like me and like options, there are similar products on the page that will also meet your mandatory gear needs.


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