Ask me anything

This page is a place for any questions or queries the readers of my blog may have about me, my training, racing, gear, nutrition or any other topic.

If you have a question please post it in a comment below and I'll reply directly to the comment.

18 comments:

  1. Daniel, any special clothing for the jungle - i.e. hot n humid conditions? What did you wear and did it work. What bug spray did you use?

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    1. Hi Meisie

      I didn't wear any special clothing for the jungle. Normal moisture wicking t-shirt and shorts were fine. No matter what you wear it will be wet for almost the whole week (I threw my race clothes away they were so horrible after the race). I would avoid cotton, but any other running clothing will be fine.

      I bought some cheap bug spray in Cusco when I arrived there. I couldn't find the strength of bug spray required by the race at home so I bought something when I arrived in the jungle. I can't remember what make or brand it was. I didn't use it during the stages rather using it during the time in camp.

      Daniel

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  2. Daniel,

    First, thanks for all the great info you've posted here.

    Curious, what pack setup did you use for Atacama in 2013?

    Cheers!
    Kristopher

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    1. Hi Kristopher

      Thanks for reading the blog - I'm glad you found some useful information.

      The pack I used for the Atacama was a Salomon XA20 pack with their front pack. The volume of the pack was closer to 17l and the front pack was between 3-4l for a total volume of about 21l which was only just enough for me. I found that the front pack moved a lot when I was running so I added an additional strap wrapping around my body from the top of the front pack to the sides of the backpack. (This was inspired by the old Raidlight Revolution 2 design.) I also cut off a few different pockets and unneeded features of the pack and front pack to make them lighter.

      The closest version that is available from Salomon now is the Trail 20 and the Custom Front pocket. If I was running the Atacama again I would also consider a Raidlight pack like the Ultra Olmo 20 + Pack Avant 4. This pack has a lot of features and is quite heavy so would require a lot of cutting down to race weight, but it seems like a great starting point with lots of options of features.

      All the best
      Daniel

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    2. Hi Daniel, thanks for all the great posts, very inspiring and congrats on the great runs in Atacama. I am running Atacama this October, and so far the only French man... I have 2 questions:1) I was wondering how you managed your feet the water crossing the second day, did you change socks? any special tricks? 2)for the gaiters, what would you recommend, I have seen a few people with Raidlight that cover the entire shoe and also some with minimal gaiters. Thanks, Mathieu

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    3. Hi Daniel, Mathieu here again. And since you ran in 2012 and 2013, in terms of gear, is there anything you changed and was a great decision in 2013 vs 2012. For instance, did you take a mat that year and how heavy was your bag compared to the 6.5 in 2012. That is very light, I am at 7.3kg now but I know weight is key, I really feel the difference when I remove 1kg. Many thanks again for your help.

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    4. Hi Mathieu

      Thank you for the kind words. I'm excited for you racing the Atacama this year. It's one of my favorite races. In answer to your questions:

      1) I didn't do anything special for the water crossing on stage 2. I kept my shoes and socks on and let them dry as I was running. It is very dry and hot in the Atacama and the shoes, socks and gaiters dried very quickly. I would do the same again if I returned to the race.

      2) I used a more minimal gaiter in 2012 and then the Raidlight gaiter in 2013. I definitely prefer the Raidlight gaiter as I find it lighter, more flexible and more effective at keeping out fine sand (which can easily pass through the fine mesh of most running shoes). However, there are not that many sections in the race of sand dunes. In fact, the only true sand dune is on stage 2 after the slot canyon and water crossing and it is a short downhill section. It would be possible to run the race without gaiters as long as you were willing to stop and empty your shoes of sand after that one section on stage 2. If you are planning to change socks after the water crossing, it would be a good time to change socks and empty your shoe of sand at about half-way through stage 2. If I went back I would use the Raidlight gaiters as this is the easiest and fastest option.

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    5. Hi Mathieu

      I made two changes from 2012 to 2013 that I thought were good decisions and that made my race easier.

      The first was that instead of using a pack with two water bottles on the shoulder straps, I changed to a pack with a front pack and used the 1.5l water bottles that they provided in the aid station. This setup felt more stable to me and it was faster through the aid stations as I only had to take the new water bottle instead of filling up two smaller bottles.

      The second change and the most important was to take a sleeping mat. The camp sites are very hard and rocky and without a mat they are hard to sleep on. It can also be very cold at night in the Atacama so a sleeping mat provides a layer of insulation against the cold and helped me to stay warm at night. I used a Therm-a-rest Neo-Air 3/4 sleep mat. It is very small and light and also extremely comfortable. [in 2012 I did not take a mat because I wanted to save the weight, but it was a mistake and the additional weight was worthwhile for the improved sleep and warmth at night in 2013].

      My pack weight was slightly lighter in 2013. I think about 6.2kg. The key for reducing my pack weight was to remove almost everything that was not on the obligatory list (my only "luxuries" was a sleeping mat and toothbrush). I also removed all the tags, labels, pockets, pouches, and trimmed all the ziplock food bags - basically cut off anything on any piece of gear I took with me that didn't seem useful. I think that the obligatory gear can be reduced to 2.7kg-3.0kg.

      After reducing the obligatory gear to its minimum weight the biggest decision is what food to take. I took the absolute minimum of 2000kCal/day and it weighed about 3kg. This is a very personal decision and one that can affect your race tremendously. If you're a bigger person than me (my race weight is 60kg) or you feel you need or want more food then you will have more weight in your pack from food. My suggestion is to take the right amount of food for you to race well and accept whatever weight that is.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

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    6. Hi Daniel, thanks a lot for your answers, that's definitely very helpful to know from your experience as the running condition are very different from what we are used too. Many Thanks

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  3. Hi Daniel,

    Im going to run Tors De Geants 2017, any recommendations for poles?

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    1. Hi Joe

      I was helping some friends this week during TdG so I was fortunate enough to witness their races and see some of the other athletes during the event. My suggestions are therefore mostly second-hand TdG advice mixed with my own experience using poles.

      From what I heard, most runners did not put their poles away at all and had them in their hands for the entire race. The second issue that I heard was that a lot of poles were broken during the race. My suggestion would therefore be to use a very sturdy pole and to consider a pole with good wrist straps. If you're buying poles solely for the use of TdG it would seem that a folding or telescoping pole would not be necessary so that is also something you could consider.

      The poles I use are Black Diamond Z-poles. They're light, strong and I've never had any issues with them. I would recommend them highly. Another pair that looks very good is the Leki Trail Pro. They have a great wrist system (the trigger shark) and look very sturdy and strong. Finally a pair that would be worth considering is the Grivel TdG poles. I had always thought they look too heavy and far too sturdy, but on seeing some of the damage to poles and hearing race experiences this week they might be the ideal pole that race.

      I hope that helps.
      Daniel

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    2. Hi Joe

      First: To enter TdG you have to pass the lottery. Due to the math they use it's easier if you come from Simbabwe or Vanatu.

      Second: I only can confirm Daniel's words. I used my well prooven Comperdells without shorten them or putting them on/in the backpack. Better to carry 100g plus than to have mental stress with defect gear. You'll get enough mental stress anyway... ;-) I saw - for good reason - veeery few runners without poles. Thus look also for a replacement if one of your poles break.

      Generally: It's an alpine adventure - therefore the conditions can be really harsh (the reason they had to stop the race this year). Believe me - I grew up in the alps. Thus only start with reliable and over month (!) well tested gear!

      Good luck!

      Marc

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    3. Hi Marc

      Thank you for adding some great advice. I'd definitely repeat the sentiment of only using well tested and reliable gear.

      Thanks again
      Daniel

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  4. Hi Daniel! So happy to have found you; I am planning a long distance run across Zimbabwe (I am from Harare myself) and wanted to ask your advice. I have so many questions I won't ask them all at once, but wondered if you had advice on what the best route would be ? I was thinking from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo...?

    Any advice would be enormously appreciated! Thanks, Nell

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    1. Hi Nell

      That sounds like an awesome adventure! Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll answer as well as I can.

      I have to admit I have no idea which route would be best across Zimbabwe. I'm not sure what sort of trails there are or if you'd be looking to run on the road? I would be cautious about running on the road and also running through areas like Hwange where you might encounter wildlife. I like the Mutare area and the eastern highlands as it's mountainous, cooler and there are a lot of great trails there. It might be worth considering looking at what type of terrain you want to run on and what's safe as the first step.

      Sorry I can't be more help on the route. I look forward to hearing any other questions you might have.

      Daniel

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    1. Hi Dave

      Finally I have the season planned! It's on the page 2017 Calendar. Lots of cool races coming up including the Eiger again.

      What do you have planned?

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I'd love to hear from you and get your perspective on my stories, thoughts and training. Please feel free to comment.