Atacama Crossing 2013 Gear

Last year I did my first multi-stage desert race. It was a fantastic race and also a learning experience for me. I think that I did well with my gear and I recorded what worked and what didn't for future reference.

This year I have a refined approach and also some assistance (from Lafuma and Compressport) to ensure that my gear options are the best possible to meet the demands of a desert race. I have spent time in the last four months testing my new clothing and equipment, removing anything unnecessary and learning exactly what works for me.

The end result is the gear that follows.

Clothing that I'll be wearing.

My clothing for the race is bright orange and will be clearly visible this year! This gear includes:

  • Lafuma shirt
  • Lafuma cap
  • Compressport Tri-short
  • Compressport R2 calf-sleeves
  • Oakley sunglasses
  • Polar heart rate monitor
  • Gaiters
  • Socks
  • Shoes

Mandatory safety gear.

All the mandatory safety gear and personal items packed as small and as tightly as possible:

  • Blister kit
  • Multi-tool
  • Compression bandage
  • Medication
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamps
  • Toilet paper
  • Red flashing light
  • Safety pins
  • Emergency blanket
  • Salt tabs
  • Spoon
  • Alcohol gel
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush

Food and water bottles.

14,000 calories of food and my water bottles for the race. Food is the heaviest component in my backpack at just under 4kg. The food is composed of:

  • Energy gels
  • Ensure powder
  • Rehydration solution
  • Couscous
  • Noodles
  • Chorizo
  • Parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • Cerelac

Sleeping mat, spare clothes and sleeping bag.

Sleeping mat, spare clothes and sleeping bag all in ziploc bags to keep them dry from sweat and/or rain!

Everything all laid out.

Here is everything laid out to show what it all looks like. Incredible how little is required for 7 days in the desert.

Bag packed and ready to go.

Together my packed backpack and front pouch are about 20l of space and a little over 6kg. Everything fits quite well and as the race progresses the weight and space requirements will fall as I eat my food supplies.

I love to read what other people use and have scoured the internet for blogs and resources to learn from. I have also had a few emails from competitors in this year's racing saying that the information I posted last year helped them. I'm more than happy to get into more details or answer any questions in the comments.

You might also like:

1. What I used last year: Gear for a 7-day, 250km desert race
2. My review of the gear I took last year: gear that worked and gear that didn't

Training taper in the desert

I have arrived in San Pedro to acclimatize to the heat, sand and altitude before March. My training for the three weeks leading up to the race is mostly a gentle taper. I did a long run with my pack and race gear on part of the race course and it was good to be back in the desert. My training from here on out is gentle runs with a few intervals and hills to keep me in good condition. Today I headed out to the sand dune on stage 2 for an easy hour in my Lafuma gear.

Running through the Cordillera del Sal.

Close to the second checkpoint on stage 2.

I'm glad we run down the sand dune in the race and not up it!

Following my running on Strava

Strava is a social fitness tool that allows you to log your workouts, similar to Garmin Connect or TrainingPeaks, but with two additional features. The first is that you are able to compare your performance on routes and segments to other people you follow and therefore you can compete against them to run the best time on a route. The second feature is a list of leader boards that show how you compare to everyone who has ever run a certain route or segment (and logged it on Strava) and place your performance in the context of other athletes. It's a great idea and can help to make an often solitary sport like running a little more fun and competitive. Strava explains the idea here.

I joined Strava at the beginning of the year to test it out and see if it could be a useful and fun training tool. I've uploaded some of my runs from January and so far I like the site. Strava has a simple, clean format and it clearly displays the routes and segments of a run. It's a great dashboard of information and fantastic to see where my friends around Santiago have been running.

I haven't uploaded all my training as some of my training sessions are easy, recovery runs that are close to home (and therefore not that interesting). I have included most of the more exciting routes, my more challenging training sessions and any climbs on routes where I've seen friends' segments on Strava. My profile on Strava is available at When I post runs here on my blog I'll also try to include the Strava link so you can see the route and details of each run.

Two of my highlights from January are now uploaded on Strava:

An epic run in Vilches Alto with Patrick

A long run, walk, scramble on the 2011 Ultramaraton de Los Andes route

I'm looking forward to testing out all the features and challenging the fastest times on a few segments after my next race.

Cerro San Cristobal training with friends

This weekend I ran my last long run in Santiago before traveling to San Pedro for the Atacama Crossing. In the last month I've run a lot of loops on Cerro San Cristobal by myself and I really wanted some friends to join me to take the sting out of another 3 hours on the mountain. Luckily for me, Matias and Christopher were free and Patrick happened to be visiting Santiago to show his family the city.

I wanted to treat this last long run as a final test for my gear and loaded up with my full pack, gaiters and race clothing (quite a few times during the run I looked over at Pat with just a handheld and quietly cursed him!). Everything worked according to plan and I feel that I have my final race gear ready. I'm quite pleased that it worked so well.

We ran two loops around Cerro San Cristobal at a smooth, cruising pace. There weren't any climbs that had us bending over and breathing hard and we could thoroughly enjoy the conversation and company of good friends. Matias knows San Cristobal well and together with the trails that I know we joined together a great series of single track and trail running.

Ready to go on a perfect day. 

A last trial run with my race gear - fully loaded!

Starting the day with a little climbing. 

An easy section on tar  before we rejoined the trails. (photo:

More climbing! (photo:

Matias took plenty of photos and also grabbed and edited this brilliant video below. He does some great work showing the trail events and routes in Chile and I'm glad that he'll be in San Pedro on the last day of the race reporting for TrailChile.


Racing the Planet Blog

Leading up to and during the Atacama Crossing 2013 I will be keeping a blog on the Racing the Planet website. After each stage I'll update my blog with some details of the day and how I'm feeling. If you'd like to follow, you can find my blog posts here.

My first post is already up:

Hello and welcome to my blog for the Atacama Crossing 2013. I ran this race last year and was completely overwhelmed by all the support I received from family and friends via email during the race. This year I will be writing a blog so it's easier to follow my progress and as a way to let anyone following know how I'm feeling during the race.

With 27 days to go to the race I'm extremely excited and cannot wait to arrive in San Pedro to start the race. I completed a tough four-day training block last week, my final big training week before the race, and now I'm slowly tapering down to the race to let my body relax and take in the work I've done so far. Often the taper period can feel a little boring as if you're not making progress towards the race. However, I feel happy with my training so far and I'm pleased to have this period to consolidate the work I've done and to do the final race-tuning work to arrive at the start in good condition.

I have almost all of my gear for the race ready to go. I'm fortunate that I raced last year so I still have most of the obligatory materials, and this year I have the support of Lafuma Chile so I have a few new pieces of equipment and some new clothing for the race. I have also tested my nutrition for the race; it's ready to go and hopefully a little more nutritious and delicious than last year!

I will post another two updates before the race (on Mondays) and then a brief recap after each stage during the race. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions on this blog and I'll try to answer them.