In the 2014 Hardrock 100, just after sunset, I got pinned down by a major electrified thunderstorm. Forced to squat next to a slab of boulder above treeline at 13,000 feet with lightning flash-booming the ground all around me, I spent 70 minutes at mile 62 in American Basin. A pelting rain added to the misery of my situation. I immediately donned all of the gear I had at my disposal: three lightweight wind layers (a pullover, a zip-front hoodie and wind pants). These layers were soaked within 15 minutes, and I spent the remainder of the ordeal shivering—my teeth audibly chattering, my jaw sore after the race. As the storm moved off of Handy’s Peak above me, I made my way over the summit and finally resumed my way along the course. I was wet and cold for most of that night’s race and I vowed never to be unprepared again.
Here are some tips to keep you prepared:
Know the Regional Forecast
Planning ahead is of the utmost importance when venturing out into mountain terrain for big adventures. Trail running can take us to amazing and wild places, but it can also put us miles from rescue if things go south. Planning for worst-case scenarios is paramount. Know before you go.
Check local and regional apps, websites, and forecasts to check the weather all around your planned route. Know that if you’re looking at a forecast for a city that lies in a valley, the ridgeline several thousand feet above could be 10-30 degrees colder, especially if a storm system hits. Look at different times of the day during your planned mountain running adventure or race. Is there an afternoon thunderstorm chance or is the system bigger? Look at radar, know predominant wind direction, and where a potential storm could come from. What if you happen to roll an ankle 10 miles from a trailhead and can only hike one mile per hour? You could be out an additional 10+ hours you didn’t expect. Plan for everything.
Bronco’s Basic Mountain Running Kit
Since my Hardrock debacle, I’ve acquired a thorough (though lightweight) mountain running kit to ensure I’m never that cold and miserable again.
Here are the basics of my go-to kit: