The Columbia UTMB is one of the world’s toughest ultra running events. Taking place across the punishing terrain of the Alps, it is 180km long with a staggering 9,000m of ascent. And with weather that can switch from a balmy summer’s day to wintery snowstorms in a matter of seconds, making good gear choices is essential if you want to be in with any chance of making it to the finish line.

We catch up with ultra-running hero, Eoin Keith, to find out what kit he’ll be taking to the Columbia UTMB 2017.

columbia utmb gear

What will you be wearing for the UTMB this year?

I’ll bring two almost complete sets of gear to Chamonix to allow for the fact that the weather is so unpredictable.

If the weather is good, I’ll wear Columbia Montrail trail running shorts, an Omni Freeze Zero trail running top and Columbia Trans Alp trail running shoes.

If the weather is bad, I’ll wear a lot more. I’ll probably upgrade to a Columbia Omni Heat baselayer, add some thermal leggings, and possibly upgrade to running shoes with built in gators. I’ll leave myself with lots of options, and watch the forecast. The mandatory gear list covers all the more extreme gear, which I’ll either be carrying or using, depending on conditions.

Interview: Eoin Keith prepares for the UTMB 2017

What will you carry with you in your pack?

Mainly the mandatory race equipment that I’m not using at any point in time (small first aid kit, space blanket, spare head torch and batteries, mobile, lightweight Columbia Omni Heat beanie hat, lightweight Columbia trail running gloves (or full waterproof mitts if the weather is bad), sun cap, a lightweight Columbia Powerstretch fleece, Columbia Outdry Extreme waterproof leggings, Columbia Outdry Extreme lightweight waterproof shell jacket, one chocolate bar (yet to decide) for emergencies and two water bottles, one filled (second only used in extremely hot weather).

What is your most valued piece of kit and why?

I couldn’t live without my Columbia Outdry Extreme lightweight waterproof jacket. It is my first and most important line of defence against inclement weather. It’s the most genuinely waterproof jacket I’ve ever used, but is also very breathable, and extremely resilient. The latest version I’m wearing is a great lightweight version… perfect for racing!

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