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Dispatches : Gear

6 Race-Day Essentials

Moisture-wicking shorts and shirt? Check. Racing flats? Check. It's easy to know what gear you need on race day, but it's also easy to forget those essentials at home. So we've compiled an elemental list to jog your memory, and remind you of the basics you'll want before running a marathon.

UltrAspire Cup ($6)

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More and more running races are taking the environmental-friendly initiative to go “cupless.” Texas' Run The Hill Country has made all 17 of its races and race series cupless. Other events, such as the Jemez Mountain Trail Runs and the Coyote Backbone Trail Ultra, are following suit. The takeaway? It’s time to invest in a reusable cup like this one from UltrAspire. The six-ounce vessel is larger than a normal disposable cup, plus it’s BPA-, Phthalate-, and PVC-free. Attach it to your shorts with a clip or fold it into your pocket for use at the next watering hole.

Brook’s Women’s Versatile Bra ($34)

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Female runners, take note: There are few issues more annoying than a sports bra that chafes. But fear not. Brooks has solved this problem with its Versatile Bra. A clever M-frame stitch construction on the front panel serves the same purpose as a cup without all the extra padding. The two-layer panels on the straps keep the breathable mesh from rubbing sensitive or sunburnt shoulders, while the wide, fitted band is made from the same material as the front panel, keeping rib-cage rubbing at bay.

Glide Anti-Chafe Stick ($10)

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Triathletes have sworn by anti-chafing agents for decades—from all-purpose products like Vaseline and baby powder to specialized gels and creams. We’ve found the Glide Anti-Chafe stick to work particularly well, and not just for runners. The formula is all-natural (it's made solely from plant-based ingredients), so this anti-chafe stick doesn’t leave behind any greasy residues.

Wrigley’s Extra Polar Ice Gum ($1.50)

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By the time you reach mile 11 in a marathon, stuffing energy bars down your gullet can seem pretty unappealing. So what’s a racer to do when dry mouth attacks? Chew gum. Keeping a few sticks tucked into your waistband can provide relief you won’t get from water or hard candy (can you say “choking hazard?”). Wrigley’s Extra gum is sugar-free, doesn’t disintegrate, and is flavorful enough to go the distance with you. I found the Polar Ice flavor to be particularly nice when you’re working up a sweat.

Dakine Session 8L ($75)

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Dakine specializes in making bags for adventurous athletes. The company's backpacks are some of the most durable on the market, made of tough nylon with fleece-lined inner pockets and reinforced corners. The Session 8L model features a two-liter Shape-Loc reservoir to store post-race hydration, as well as individual pockets and an organizer for your phone, sunglasses, and extra clothes. The Session is tough, efficient, and can carry all your necessities without making you feel like you have the kitchen sink on your back.

Nike Benassi Slides ($22)

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Following the sweet success of crossing the finish line and making a pass by the post-race food station, one of the first things you'll want to do is get those racing shoes off your feet. Nothing lets your tired dogs breathe better than a pair of slides. Nike’s classic Benassi slides have served as the go-to sandal for decades, and for good reason. The Benassi is super comfortable, with its seamless, cushioned upper and soft foot bed. After everything they just went through, your feet deserve a treat.

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The Outdoor Exchange: Never Buy Gear Again

If your friends’ lack of kayaks keeps spoiling your dreams of organizing flotillas in nearby lakes, weep no more: last week, a small group of New Jersey men formally quit their jobs to focus on The Outdoor Exchange (OX), a subscription-based gear closet.

The brainchild of outdoor enthusiast and startup veteran Dariusz Jamiolkowski, five-week-old OX gives subscribers access to a catalog of high-end, expensive gear. Basic subscriptions to OX (there are a few options, the cheapest of which is $100) allow users to rent one item per week. You can rent more items at 10 percent of each additional product’s value. OX recently started an Indiegogo campaign to boost its membership, and expects to be “fully operational” by July, after which point basic subscription costs will double. 

So far, most of the rentals come from New Jersey (OX is based in Fairlawn), but subscribers hail from California, Colorado, Florida, and even England. Jamiolkowski estimates the young company rents about 10 items per week, and he hopes to attract more than 1,000 total subscribers by the end of summer, mainly by preaching the company's cause at big events like the Philly Folk music festival and relying on word of mouth. 

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But while OX is still young (currently it only has a couple hundred paying members), it's run by seven business- and tech-savy teammates whose resumes are padded with names like Lockheed Martin and Novo Nordisk. Jamiolkowski officially left his position as Handybook’s vice president of finance in February after being accepted into startup incubator TechLaunch, while marketing lead Adam Hackett quit his day job on June 6.

That team has come up with a unique gear-sharing model. Unlike GearCommons—another peer-to-peer program that depends on its users to supply gear—OX stocked its warehouse full of gear by working directly with manufacturers and distributors. The majority of the 300 products in its inventory were provided by companies like Black Diamond, Hobie, Maverick, and Folbot, a foldable kayak manufacturer. It's a relationship that benefits both parties. 

“The issue (Folbot’s) having is that they have a great product, but it's hard for somebody who hasn't been in a foldable kayak to spend $1,200 on a foldable kayak,” Jamiolkowski said. “So we're putting butts in the seats for these guys. We're gonna get people to try the product and nine out of 10 people are gonna try it and say it was great, but one person is gonna end up purchasing the kayak...And our customers are going to be happy because they get to use a premium product at a low entry-point.”

The company is still working out some kinks, including how to streamline shipping costs. For New Jersey residents, OX will drop off and set up gear at trailheads within 25 miles of its warehouse for $20. But the idea of spending $100 a year on shared gear doesn’t sound as good if you have to pay an additonal $200 in shipping.

This week, OX began testing what its founder calls the Trailblazer Program. For a set $74 per year, subscribers can ship all their rentals for free within the continental United States. Ultimately, the team hopes to open local warehouses where subscriptions are most concentrated to help defray costs. 

You may be wondering, “What happens if the gear gets damaged?” Well, Jamiolkowski and his team have set up a system to incentivize good gear treatment. OX rates both customers and gear internally when products are returned. If a customer gets low enough marks, she can’t rent gear anymore. “In order for this to work, it's gotta work both ways,” says Jamiolkowski. “Have you seen Meet the Fockers? We're building the Circle of Trust.

“We have families to support and mortgages to pay for, but we strongly believe in what we're doing, based on everything we've done so far to build a very successful, not only business, but a community for outdoor enthusiasts,” he says. 

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Rungu Juggernaut Bike

Trike meets fattie in the 55.8-pound aluminum Rungu Juggernaut, a bike designed to take you up and over pretty much anything.

The bike comes with two forks, 26-inch wheels, and 4.7-inch tires. According to Rungu, the added third wheel improves float in the snow up to 50 percent and the bike can "overcome obstacles up to six-inches tall at crawl speed." Let's just say we’re excited to test those claims this winter. 

Need even more power to conquer the trails? The Juggernaut is fixed with mounting points for electric-bike kits.

$2,500, riderungu.com

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El Naturalista Meteo

El Naturalista, a socially-responsible footwear company based in Pamplona, Spain, joins the ranks of Birkenstock, Simple, and Keen in producing some of the most comfortable travel footwear I've ever owned.

The Meteo features full-grain, vegetable-tanned uppers, but the secret is in the sole's anatomical design. Ideal for collapsing arches (there's a removable insole you can swap out for your custom one) and pancake-footed adventurers, the Meteo will hold up on planes, trains, bikes, and all the walking your European sabbatical will entail. Available in a variety of cool colors, from mediterranean blue to conservative black.

$150, elnaturalista.com

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