Paddy Buckley Round | The Kit I Used For My 100km Mountain Run - Outdoors Magic

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Paddy Buckley Round | The Kit I Used For My 100km Mountain Run

Huw Brassington goes through his equipment choices for the Paddy Buckley round last year, as seen in the S4C documentary, 47 Copa

Header Image: SportpicturesCymru

Ever watched one of those adventure films about epic mountain runs and wondered what kind of magical kit these people must be using to complete such unbelievable tasks?

Currently available to watch on BBC Iplayer, 47 Copa, shows Huw Brassington as he takes on the gruelling Paddy Buckley challenge, a running route of over 100km that takes in 47 of Snowdonia’s peaks.

It’s one of those challenges where everything can easily go very wrong, with the proof of that being that 30% of those who take it on end up dropping out. If the weather isn’t working for you, if you haven’t planned out the logistics carefully enough, or perhaps more importantly, if your kit fails, then the sub 24 hour goal will very, very easily slip away. (OK, there’s a spoiler on the way so if you’re planning on watching Huw’s film stop reading now.)

So what was in Huw’s armoury that helped him to not only complete the round, but do it with a not-to-be-sniffed-at 55 minutes spare? Read on to find out…

Shoes: Salomon S/Slab Speed 2

Price: £160
Weight: 265g

This is where the smart money is spent. My pair of Salomon S/Lab Speed 2 were perfect; quick draining, bristling with 8mm knobbles and a central arch section with smaller tread that conjures grip on the slipperiest of boulders. The low profile (minimal drop from heel to fore-foot) provides a very stable platform (like the opposite to running in high-heels) and, more importantly, allows you to feel the ground properly.

This sense of what is underfoot cultivates a subconscious reaction to the terrain which is indispensable when your brain turns to mashed potato after 20 hours straight of fell running. However, smaller tread is better on wet rock and with this in mind i might be tempted to go for a shoe change and less aggressive tread on leg four, from Llanberis to Dyffryn Ogwen. Half of this is over the boulder-strewn moonscape that lies over the Glyderau and if it’s wet (and it usually is!) then smaller tread could be an advantage if, however, you’re used to uneven ground and are partial to nailing it downhill, I’d go for bigger tread for the whole thing.

You stand to gain more hammering it down muddy descents than you would lose slipping on wet stone. But tread carefully – I found out at my own cost that this decision needs to be carefully deliberated. After an ill-timed shoe change, I fell on my face numerous times to the delight of the nearby cameramen.

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Leggings: Ronhill Charity Shop Leggings

Price: £5

My Ronhill leggings cost me £5 from a charity shop and are one of the best bits of kit I own. This pair are at least 30 years old by the look of them and they’re still going strong. They are simple, no faff and nice to run in. They are light, they dry quickly, and above all else they look great – rocking around with a flamboyant Ronhill camel-toe makes you feel like an authentic fell-runner. There is absolutely no need to spend a fortune here.

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Mid layer: Berghaus VapourLight Hypertherm

Price: £140
Weight: 167g

The Berghaus VapourLight is one of the best bits of kit I own, and I own loads of kit, my wife says too much. It takes a long time for a bit of kit to climb to the top of this smelly pile, so this is not a fleeting love affair. I’ve had it for almost four years now and it’s taken a battering, but it looks and works almost as new. It’s warmth to weight ratio is incredible. It weighs less than 200g and is breathable and wind-proof at the same time. Berghaus have probably stopped making these by now – if they have get on ebay!

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Poles: Salomon Sense Ultra Trail Carbon Poles

Price: £135
Weight: 160g

In general trekking poles allow you to lessen the load on your legs and in a challenge like this there is no need to say anything else. Ensure you get a good fit and invest in a light weight set as you will be lifting them up around 30,000 times in a full Paddy Buckley round – so again every gram counts. These carbon poles are some of the lightest poles on the market and dismantle easily. Try to off load them to a support runner for the descents.

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Socks & Base layer: EDZ Merino Wool

Price: £20 – £50

In Wales you never know what the weather is going to do and therefore you need something to cope with anything. Wool is perfect for this, just ask a sheep. I ran half of my round in 60mph wind and driving rain and I was perfectly comfortable throughout. EDZ is a merino wool company based in the Lake District that makes bomb-proof kit. They make thicker garments than most of the big brands that I have tried and they seem to be perfect for British mountain conditions. For the first leg from Capel Curig down to the Moelwynion I would be tempted to go for one of their waterproof socks as it’s a bit of a quagmire that never seems to dry out.

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Waterproofs: Berghaus Hyper 100 and Paramo Enduro

Price: £250 (Berghaus), £435 (Paramo)
Weight: 97g (Berghaus), 790g

I’m usually very wary of light-weight waterproofs and I don’t head out in any sort of proper bad weather without my trusted old Paramo Enduro. But there is no getting around the fact that they are heavy and on a Paddy Buckley attempt that is an unforgivable sin. So I opted for the Berghaus Hyper 100. It weighs nothing! 96g and to be honest I felt a little apprehensive packing this into my emergency pack, I just crossed fingers the storm wouldn’t hit till later on. I was wrong it struck with a vengeance (look up the footage if you can, the documentary is on BBC iPlayer until the end of Feb).

I don’t know whether my kit choice was a stroke of genius or luck, but it worked and it was tested in the most brutal of environments. This coat felt like something completely new, not your sweaty old Gore-tex bin liner, it kept me dry and comfortable in 60mph and torrential rain. They are quite expensive and I would say that they are worth their weight in gold, but as they are so light that would not do them justice!

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GPS Watch: Suunto 9 Baro

Price: £350
Weight: 81g

I’m a firm believer that this should only be a backup to a map and compass, but I must admit it was very useful, mainly during the training. If you have a friend who’s done it and is partial to finding sneaky lines and you trust their navigation you can easily share routes. If you recce a good line in clear weather during the day, the Suunto 9 Baro will remember it and ensure that you stay on track if the clagg comes down. This is the first GPS watch I’ve owned that has a properly useful battery life and It is easily adapted on the go, without a laptop which is incredibly useful.

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Head Torch: Petzl Nao Plus Headlamp

Price: £120
Weight: 185g

This head torch was indispensable. It actually thinks for itself! It modifies the brightness depending on what’s in front of it, be it a map or open countryside. This lets it save battery and as a result it lasted all night. It kicks out 750 Lumen when necessary and it’s lasted 14 hours for me on Auto mode during the Marmot Dark Peak race last year – and this was in cold wintery conditions which can drain batteries that are not designed well.

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Backpack: Salomon ADV Skin

Price: £125
Weight: 335g

For the first twenty hours I carried a Salomon ADV Skin race vest which was empty except for one water bottle. It’s a brilliant vest that has accessible pouches that pin the weight in the right places, so if you have to carry something I’d go for one of these. But if I was doing this again I wouldn’t carry anything. If you have plenty of good support runners, which I did, it’s much easier than you think to get them to pass you water every 20 minutes than to carry the extra weight of a backpack, especially when it inevitably gets wet when you have to run through a monsoon for 10 hours. When you’re climbing the equivalent of Everest in a single sitting every gram counts, so not carrying a backpack is a no brainer if given the option – It’s whether or not you shave your eyebrows off is the dilemma.

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Other Vital Kit

Food: Honey, Baby food, rice pudding and Cliff Bars (while I could still chew!) Real food is hard work, save yourself some energy and eat things you don’t have to chew. 

Vaseline: A week before my attempt I met two men while I was on a recce who were in the process of pulling out of their attempt because of their ball bags. Don’t be these people.

Support Runners: These are the most vital bit of all this kit as they not only make it easier but a lot more fun. So spend time getting these right and you stand a much better chance of finishing.  It’s one of the things that distinguishes challenges like this from races, it’s a team effort. No one finishes this thing alone, and at the end of the day who would want to?! Sharing a summit makes it much more enjoyable and with 47 peaks along this round it’s a big part of what makes the Paddy Buckley Round so special.


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