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The Ultimate Packing List for the CenturyLink Leadville Trail 100 Run presented by La Sportiva

Packing can feel like a chore, no matter where you’re headed. When you’re packing for the particular rigors of the Century Link Leadville Trail 100 Run, you have all sorts of additional considerations: Packing drop bags, packing for your crew and pacers, even packing for the unknown (such as weather and stomach issues).

To help you get it all dialed, we’ve polled some past finishers to share their tips and absolute must-haves for the race.

For Your Crew

“I tell my crew to pack beer! Leadville is a party. Also sunscreen, chairs, down jackets, rain gear, sleeping bags, course maps, and team cell numbers.” – Drew Schulte

“Some people give their crew a present after the race, but I give my crew a goodie bag the night before. I fill it with fun stuff: little airline bottles of whiskey, cool schwagg I’ve saved from other races, cocktail mix, caffeine pills to help them stay up all night. It can be hard to say thank you during the race.” – Veronica Gerhard

The Crew List:

  • Vehicle hangtag
  • Parking instructions
  • Maps and driving directions
  • Crew notes for each aid station
  • All crew materials in race packet, as well as info in the Athlete Guide
  • Team cell numbers and emergency contacts
  • Pace/split times
  • Alarm clock or other backup alarm system
  • Ice and coolers
  • Backup hydration pack or bottles for the runner
  • Food and drinks for the crew
  • Really warm/dry clothes
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant
  • Utility knife/scissors
  • Money/wallet
  • Folding chairs
  • Sleeping bag and/or blanket
  • Tarp
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper/baby wipes
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Camera
  • Headlamps

For Your Pacers

“I told my pacers to pack an extra headlamp – I’d heard horror stories of headlamps dying in the middle of the night and didn’t ever want to be without. Also pickles (it was a great way to get a little bit of sodium and water, and it acts as a stomach settler), and, obviously, a lot to talk about. That’s not really a physical packing thing, but a mental packing thing. I wanted my pacers to be able to mindlessly chatter to me.” – Liz Andrews

The Pacer List:

  • LED headlamp and/or flashlight
  • Handheld bottles or race vest
  • Snacks
  • Pace/split times
  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Basic medical kit
  • Cell phone
  • Space blanket

For the Start Line

“Pack the right mental attitude, knowing things will go wrong and that it’s part of the process.” – Ryan Guldan

The Start Line List:

  • Race kit: shorts, shirt, sports bra/undies, socks, shoes
  • Beanie or hat
  • Gloves
  • Jacket
  • Race number
  • Sunscreen and lube (applied)
  • Watch or other device
  • Bottles or race vest
  • Enough gels or other easily digestible carbs for the first 13 miles
  • Electrolyte capsules
  • Pace/split times
  • LED headlamp and/or flashlight
  • Spare light
  • Lucky bandana/necklace/buff
  • Toilet paper or baby wipes
  • Essential medication, inhaler (if used) and disposable contact lenses
  • ID and emergency contact info

For Your Drop Bags

You can prepare drop bags for each aid station except Hope Pass. Create a basic kit for every drop bag, and then add additional items like lights and warm clothes to cover known course conditions and worst-case scenarios.

Pack your necessities in thick clear plastic bags (XL Ziploc bags are one option) and use white tape and a black Sharpie to label each with your name, race number, aid station, and “RETURN” for the outbound aid stations. (In anticipation of your future brain fog, and to help volunteers and your crew, write in BIG letters.) Remember to pack liquids in leak-proof, non-breakable container.

The Basic Drop Bag List:

“Leadville is one of the most beautiful places that I ever threw up.” – Patrick Costello

  • Upset stomach kit: baby wipes, Imodium A-D, Tums
  • Electrolyte capsules
  • Backup food
  • Special treat
  • Dry socks and running kit
  • Safety pins
  • Your favorite magic anti-chaffing cream
  • Sunscreen (that works on wet skin)
  • Insect repellant
  • Blister kit
  • Toilet paper in a baggie
  • Essential medication (i.e. inhaler) and treatments for known recurring injuries
  • Bags for wet stuff

Aid Station Additions

May Queen

“Drop your warm clothes and headlamps and grab sunglasses and hats at May Queen, and definitely sunscreen at Outward Bound. Also, pack as much real food for those first few aid stations. That was where I ate avocados, bacon, Cheez-Its — things that were high in fat and high in calories. I wanted to pack in as many calories from food as possible before the inevitable switch to energy gels.”– Liz Andrews

  • Sunglasses and hat
  • Basic drop bag contents

Outward Bound

  • Basic drop bag contents

Half Pipe

“Respect your crew by packing everything you want in a single bag/duffle/tub that they can easily carry or roll into each aid station. If you want specifics, make them a list of what you want at each point.” – Ryan Guldan

  • Basic drop bag contents

Twin Lakes

“At Twin Lakes, when you run through the water, you cool down and your appetite returns. My crew was really experienced so they made sure I had food in my hand to eat immediately after the water crossing. That gave me an extra 200 calories to get up Hope Pass.” – Veronica Gerhard

  • Dry socks and running kit
  • Windbreaker (with hood)
  • Polypro or wool socks
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Special treat to get you up Hope Pass
  • Basic drop bag contents

Hope Pass

  • No drop bag


“People DNF at Winfield because they’ve gotten behind on their nutrition. So make sure you get enough food at Twin Lakes.” – Emily Booth

  • LED headlamp and/or flashlight (pack for your worst-case scenario finish time, not your best-case scenario finish time)
  • Spare light
  • Dry shoes
  • Basic drop bag contents

Twin Lakes RETURN

“Show your crew how you like to attach your bib, and check that they always put it on your fresh clothes in the correct way. And bring extra safety pins!” – Veronica Gerhard

  • LED headlamp and/or flashlight
  • Spare light
  • Gloves
  • Beanie
  • Basic drop bag contents

Half Pipe RETURN

  • Spare light
  • Basic drop-bag contents

Outward Bound RETURN

“I brushed my teeth going in and out of Twin Lakes, and also at Outward Bound on the way back. It was awesome. It made my appetite come back, but more than, it was like taking a shower. I felt like a new person.” – Veronica Gerhard

  • Spare light
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Basic drop bag contents

May Queen RETURN

  • Spare light
  • Basic drop bag contents

Packing is Personal

Of course, choosing what to pack and what to leave behind is personal. Leadville veteran Emily Booth advises considering your weight-to-comfort ratio. “Think of the worst-case scenario, really play it out in your mind and decide if you could live with it. And then decide if you need to pack your gear or carry it with you. I’ve been there. One year I dropped out at 80 miles because I was cold. I didn’t have a jacket with me, and then I missed my crew at one of the aid stations. It’s really easy to talk yourself out of finishing because you forgot something, and you think ‘oh that ruined my race.’ Don’t give yourself that out.”


Liz Andrews grew up loving being outside: “I climbed a lot of trees, built a lot of forts, and we had a little creek in my backyard that my sisters and I always played in.” Now a humanities faculty member at the High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado, Liz teaches English and history, leads wilderness expeditions, and in her free time likes to ski, ride horses, go running, and eat good food.

While her day job is Cycle Director for Life Time, Emily Booth runs the Leadville Trail 100 every year. Her insider prediction? The bugs are going to be bad this year, so pack insect repellant.

Patrick Castello is an active duty Marine who started ultrarunning and ultra-triathlon because of the positive people who organize running groups and races.  While he enjoys volunteering and crewing, he also has a good time racing Leadville, Badwater 135, HURT and Ultraman Florida.

Veronica Gerhard began running at age 18 to rehab after knee surgery. In 2009 Veronica entered her first race, a half marathon. The half marathon led to trail marathon, which led to a 2017 finish at the Leadville Trail 100 Run. In 2018, Veronica is taking on the dual role of Leadville crew and expectant mother. She looks forward to returning to the trails in 2019.

Ryan Guldan is a five-time Leadville finisher and was a member of 2017 Team USA, representing the United States at the 2017 Summer Deaflympics. His Leadville packing list: “the only thing that you really need to pack to the start line is the right training and foundation for your race.”

Two-time Leadville 100 finisher Drew Schulte works in registration support at Athlinks, a Life Time company. The multi-talented and multi-lingual athlete was a Marietta College Varsity Rower, a ski instructor and can ask for a Coke or Fig Newtons in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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