By Norb Lyle
“Ok. Let’s do this,” my running buddy says to me. We have decided to do a mountain exploration run. “Ready?” he asks as he paces, impatient to go. He travels light with his water bottle, GU packet, and phone. “Ah, not quite,” I respond. My buddy sighs, plops down on my couch and checks his phone as I prepare supplies for our run.
Years ago I decided I was sick and tired of trying to carry multiple running essentials out to the car in one load. I would drop half of what I was carrying before ever making it to the car – breaking some things in the process. This practice got old fast – especially after the third trip to the car. What could I do to avoid this minor catastrophe? I needed to carry a bag of some type. No, not a man purse. No, not a diaper bag (although it resembles one), but a “running man bag.” Turns out, this bag is not only the easiest thing for me to use, but the most practical anywhere I decide to run.
“The bag” is your typical canvas bag with handles used for carrying groceries. I found mine lying in the back forty of our garage housing the neighborhood spider collection. After a few douses of insect repellent and a couple of shakings, the bag was ready to be put to use. It’s my perfect go-to bag for all my running needs. I’ve got everything in the bag and can take it anywhere knowing I am well prepared.
In my bag is food I prepared the night before, a headlamp, water filter, iPod, visor, safety pins, filled caloric and electrolyte water bottles, recovery drinks, small TP roll, mini instant coffee packets, tea bags, band aids, ziplock bags, plastic knives and spoons, ginger, maps, liner gloves, hats, Vaseline, electrolytes, long-sleeve tech shirt, mini rain jacket, good luck cards and notes from my wife and kids, smashed (but still edible) food I want to try but never do, insect repellent, two different hydration packs, a pair of socks, shorts, and shirt to put on post-run; sunscreen, mini first aid packet, wallet and keys. You name it, it’s in the bag.
Who’s to say, when I drive up to the mountains, what I’m going to encounter and how I’m going to feel? What would my needs be if a problem should arise? What if I reach the trailhead and I’ve forgotten to put on Vaseline and band aids at home? No problem – I’ve got them in the running bag! What about come race day at 3:00 a.m. and I need a plastic spoon to eat my pre-race oatmeal and the hotel lobby is closed? What if the weather does a one-eighty during my four hour mountain run? What if I change my mind and want to take a different trail? Do I know exactly where it starts? Yes I do, because I have a map in the bag. The running bag saves the day in all of these scenarios.
As my friend waits for me to fill my bag he eyes me, then snickers and chuckles to himself. I know that one of these days he’ll wise up and eventually carry a bag too.
So when we finally starting running on the mountain, who was it that needed TP for an emergency pit stop? Who was it that needed a band aid after his encounter with a boulder? Who was it that needed to filter more water on the run? You guessed it: my running bud. A year later, who was it that brought out his running bag before another ultrarunning adventure? You guessed it. He finally wised up.
My other ultra running buddies still chuckle at the sight of “the bag.” They don’t realize they too will be converts sooner or later. Yes, the bag can be ugly and also weigh a lot at times, but I know I’m prepared and should be able to handle anything I encounter on any adventure.
Despite how people view my running bag, I am proud to have dusted this puppy off and given all of my running needs a home (and so is my wife). I hold my freak running bag high!