To combat the dehydration issues he faced in last year’s race, Jornet carried some prototype soft hydration packs that shrink in size as he drained them of an electrolyte mix, made by his nutrition sponsor Overstim. At the accessible aid stations, Jornet’s crew had a variety of food for him and he tended to take longer breaks from the action, at one point downing a banana shake.
Other runners fueled themselves with steady intake of gels and it is not uncommon for ultrarunners to consume as many as 30 packs over the course of 100 miles, sucking one every half hour as they go. At the 25 aid stations along the Western States course the runners have access to sweets, salty foods, potatoes, soup, water, sports drinks, and encouragement from enthusiastic ultra-volunteers, many of whom don’t sleep at all during long night shifts.
And while many of the men chose to carry hand-held bottles for hydration, most of the women wore lightweight packs, such as those from Nathan, Camelbak, The North Face, Ultimate Direction and Salomon. Head lamps are necessary for all but the fastest finishers who don’t mind running the first half mile in the relative pre-dawn darkness of the 5am start. Most of the field opted for lightweight LED headlamps.