In a self-supported race, the participants have to carry everything they think they'll need in their packs. As such, weight is the enemy, and racers will go to extreme lengths to shave grams. They will tear off all tags and most sewn-on logos. Straps get trimmed to the minimum usable length. Toothbrushes have their handles snapped off. The Italians (Stefano and Davide) have shaved off all visible body hair, although Stefano ruins it by sporting that big bushy beard. Food is packed using complex spreadsheets calculating calories/gram. In short, no effort is spared to reduce the weights of the packs.
The participants don't have carte blanche when packing, as the race directors always have a list of required gear (usually required by the insurance companies, actually). Here is the mandatory gear list provided by race management. Racers missing any of these items won't be allowed in the course.
- Sleeping bag rated to +5 degrees Centigrade or warmer
- Wind-proof jacket
- Knife with a minimum 5cm blade
- Signal mirror at least 6cm in diameter
- Space blanket (at least 2.2 metres by 1.4 metres in size)
- Head lamp or equivalent hand held flashlight with spare batteries
- Red flashing light (to be affixed to backpack for night stage)
- Participants must supply their own containers for water
- 2,000 calories per day and a minimum of 14,000 calories at the start of Stage 1
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