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Packing for an Extreme Triathlon

Packing for an extreme triathlon is an intimidating but exhilarating task. You’re not only packing for a long endurance event but intense, extreme conditions. Participants need to be prepared for inclement weather and challenging course conditions. The swims are often bone chilling cold and the bike leg typically has windy or rainy conditions with significant elevation gain. Likewise, the run will have varying terrain and challenging mountain passes.

I am currently packing for Alaskaman, which I will participate in for the third time on June 29. In preparation, I read the athlete guide and take detailed notes of the gear and equipment recommended as well as what is required. It’s also beneficial to read because no matter how many times you’ve completed in an event there is always the possibility that there might be slight changes to either the course, the conditions or the rules and regulations.

I’d also like to point out that although there are water/aid stations on the course, those do not take the place of a solid race nutrition plan. My nutrition plan is a key component to my success. It was created by Niki Kubiak, a registered sport dietitian and my support for this year’s event. It is structured hour by hour for each leg of the event. Proper race fuel makes all the difference between success or bonking during long endurance competitions.

In addition to the gear I mention throughout this blog I will carry my phone which has interactive GPS tracking through an app called Race Joy.

Swim - The Alaskaman swim will be anywhere from 49-55 degrees. The swim will begin just before the sun rises. We will start at Millers Landing and swim approximately 3,000m to a glacier run off where transition one will occur. For the swim I will be using an Xterra pro wetsuit, Xterra neoprene booties, hat, and gloves, clear Xterra goggles, and for an added barrier to the cold I will apply Aquaphor to my face.

Bike - The bike is a beautiful scenic, undulating 112 miles from Seward to Girdwood Alaska. The total elevation gain is roughly 4,200ft. Along with packing my bike into a secure, padded bike bag I am bringing a number of items: Bike shoes, helmet, front and rear race light, flat equipment (tubes, CO2 cartridges, tire levers), reflective vest and tape, leg and arm warmers, gloves, headband, wool socks, toe covers, spare tools, three water bottle cages and an aerobar cage for hydration.

Run - The run consists of 27 miles on minimum maintenance roads, trails, and Mount Alyeska. I will utilize a significant amount of gear that is different from a traditional ironman. This includes: trekking poles, hydration pack with a water bladder, premade Generation UCAN gels in 5 oz flasks, trail shoes with screws, stocking cap, gloves, extra socks, a compass, whistle, bear spray, a small first aid kit, Yaktrax, and trail gaiters that will keep mud out of my shoes.

Miscellaneous items needed for the event:

-Battery chargers to keep phone charged for the entire race

-Waist belt for bear spray

-Anti chafing products

-20 servings of Generation UCAN endurance formula, 5 UCAN energy bars, and salt

The best thing to do when packing for an extreme endurance event is to review the athlete guide and make a detailed list of the necessities needed. If you’re still not sure, bring it along anyway, sometimes, given the weather conditions, you never know what you’re going to need until you get there. In any event, planning ahead will reduce your stress and anxiety which will allow you to have a fun and exciting race day adventure!

A special thank you to our professional triathelete, Morgan Chaffin, for the information in this blog.