Here at St Croix 40 Winter Ultra, we want to help you be successful in your entry to winter ultra racing. As a part of this, we want to share with you tips and tricks from people who have been there, in the big races, and have sometimes learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t.
Our next entry is from a pretty famous face around the trail running world. Scott Kummer is the host of the Ten Junk Miles podcast, and an avid runner and winter ultra participant (including Order of the Hrimthurs). We’re very grateful to Scott and TJM for all the support they’ve given to St Croix 40, and for taking the time to answer some of our questions.
Please briefly list your winter ultra resume
I’ve attempted Tuscobia 160 and gotten halfway twice, the 80 and gotten halfway once and the Arrowhead 135 and gotten halfway 2 times. I’ve finished Tuscobia 160, Arrowhead 135, Frozen Otter 64 Mile and the Actif Epica 120K each once.
What’s your favorite piece of gear that might not be on the gear list? (What non-mandatory piece of gear would you not leave home without?)
The item of gear that has saved me and I would never leave home without – The Arcteryx phase glove liner (super thin glove liner that basically doubles the power of your gloves). They weigh nothing, and I have no idea how and why they work….but they are amazing and I always bring a pair.
How many layers do you bring along for a winter ultra? How do you manage multiple layers and sweating for different situations?
Assuming normal winter temps I always use a very aggressive Arcteryx base layer that has a built in hood. On top of that I use either a light jacket, a gortex shell, or both. I basically play around with the layers until I find a place where I am a little cold, but warm enough to continue forward without sweating. If I feel any sweat or moisture I unzip or switch or do what it takes to cool off enough to stop it. Moisture Maintenance is key.
Do you have a favorite brand for certain gear pieces? What do you swear by?
I swear by Arcteryx. I know it’s super expensive and the sizes run smaller, but they guarantee things for life, it’s all super high end and I don’t own a piece of their stuff that I don’t like. There is a discount store in IL and you can sometimes find deals on eBay.
What’s your foot care regimen for preventing blisters, trench foot, frostbite?
I SLATHER my feet with Trail Toes Anti-Friction cream. I mean slather, like goo gobbs. Then I use a normal sock and the Hoka waterproof boot. One thing I’ve tried to do is keep the snow off the tops of the shoes because sometimes it melts down into the shoe and creates a moisture problem.
It’s sometimes hard to be alone with your own head for long periods of time. How do you deal with the isolation and solitude of winter ultras?
I am constantly listening to something. I bring books, podcasts and tons and tons of music. It’s great to get lost in the story while staring at the landscape. If you can get really lost you forget about the pain and suffering. Adventure novels about survival are a great genre for this kind of thing.