Mountain Marathon Tents, Bags and other stuff…

It’s not easy knowing what to bring on a two day mountain marathon.

Andrew (in Black) and I (in blue with bubble wrap in my bag) marking up our maps at the Mourne Mountain Marathon 2007. Photo courtesy of MMM.
Andrew (in Black) and I (in blue with bubble wrap in my bag) marking up our maps at the Mourne Mountain Marathon 2007. Photo courtesy of MMM.

Before my first mountain marathon, I remember frantically making notes on the back of a beer-mat in a bar as a fellow mountain runner Hazel Thompson told me exactly what I needed to bring in my bag. Before my next excursion, I attended the two day NavArt Navigational Course in the Lake District. There I remember making even more detailed lists as Marcus Scotney, an elite mountain marathoner, brought us item by item through his own kit-check. Web-site trawls have also revealed advice from Planetfear and the OMM team – their recommendations have never failed me.

But ultimately, the best way to know what you need to bring in your mountain marathon bag is by getting it both right and wrong yourself.

To this day, I still can’t remember why I decided to bring so many peanuts to last year’s marathon. There’s no way that I’d forget again plastic bags for the overnight camp, the best way to protect Day Two’s dry socks from Day One’s wet shoes. And I’m definitely bagging all my stuff in zip lock bags again, to keep them small and dry inside my bin-bag lined rucksack.

In order to help me remember what works for me, I’ve a habit now of noting down what I bring in my bag before I go.

So in terms of what to wear, here’s my combo:

Into my Inov-8 bag goes:

  • Water Bottle
  • Full length waterproof trousers (mandatory) – Lowe Alpine or Berghaus Paclite do the job.
  • Anorak with hood and long sleeves – Mandatory – I currently go with the Montane Fleet Jacket.
  • A Spare fleece top – I tend to get cold at night.
  • Socks for Day 2
  • Whistle – Built into my bag.
  • Permanent Marker
  • Compass
  • Altimeter
  • Map case – Just a clear plastic bag is enough.
  • A Cover for route description – A Zip lock bag does the job.
  • Map – Mourne Mountain Superwalker XT25 1:25000
  • Spare Contact lens
  • Bubble Wrap to sleep on
  • Plastic spoon
  • Duck Tape – to repair anything and everything : never leave home without it.
  • 2 Plastic Bags to keep socks dry at overnight camp
  • Money – you never know if there’ll be a pub nearby or when you need a catch a bus home.
  • Bin Liner – to put everything into to keep them all nice and dry.

Then when it comes to food, it’s as follows:

  • Day 1 and 2 Food on the course – 10 gels, 2 bars, a handful of chocolates
  • Coffee Sachets x 2
  • Dehydrated food packs x 2
  • Museli / Porridge for breakfast
  • Complan x 2
  • Cup a soup x 1
  • Choc squares x 2
  • Nuts x 30g bag
  • Powdered Custard for dessert

Finally, depending on who you’re running with, the rest of the heavy stuff gets divided amongst you:

  • Tent with sewn-in groundsheet – personally, I’m a huge fan of the Terra Nova Laser series. True, they’re expensive, but you’ll be so glad you’re carrying a 1kg, not a 2 kg tent on the day.
  • Life Systems Survival bag or Space blanket, depending on the rules.
  • Fuel for one night.
  • First aid equipment – 2 plasters and 1 bandage normally does the job.

So, now you know what’s in my “handbag”, why not figure out what works best for you!


Note that I’ve opted for a lightweight bag with a little bit of comfort: I know that I could cut a few grams here and there, but I do want to enjoy the run in addition to doing well.  

Want to read more about Ireland’s Mourne Mountain Marathon? Check out my book, “Mud, Sweat and Tears”.

2 thoughts on “Mountain Marathon Tents, Bags and other stuff…

  1. Hi Moire,

    Can I mention while you’re using that photo that within half an hour, stuff had transferred to my rucksack !! 🙂 Gosh, remember when I was fit.

    And how come no mention of banana bread or chocolate and ginger flapjacks? Your list of food would put me off the race.


    1. Oh yeah, forgot about how you ended up carrying all those bags of food that I never ended up eating… it was much appreciated though!

      I seem to remember though that the chocolate and ginger flapjack I had already eaten in the carpark before the start – I know it was meant to be eaten during the race, but those things are so good I just couldn’t wait that long!

      So have you worked out yet how to make chocolate fondants at the overnight camp?

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