Italian cigars. Nicotine tablets. Four pairs of socks. Soap. Pop Tarts.
What do you bring to survive a week in the world’s driest desert? For many of these competitors, the answer is, “Not much.” With the lightest competitor packs weighing in around the 5kg range, there’s not much weight to spare beyond the items race organizers require. Still, we asked competitors what one “luxury item” they’ve brought – something that’s not mandatory, but that they couldn’t do without.
“Pop tarts,” said Robin Hibberd of
“Nicotine,” for Frenchman Max d’Auriol, who quit smoking five years ago but now chews up to fifteen pieces of nicotine gum a day. “You know, I read an American study that says your mind works 20% more when you’re chewing than when you’re not,” he said cheerfully as he rested under a tree after finishing check-in. Hopefully that’s true for his legs, too.
“Four pairs of socks,” for Irishman Rossa O’Donnell, who almost brought his copy of The Kite Runner but thought better of it at the last minute. German Joseph Kelly also chooses a pair of extra socks – plus a small bar of soap, which isn’t required (and most competitors don’t bring.)
Craig Hurst of the
Youn Hee Lee will carry a flag for the Korean university at which he’s studying for his third graduate degree – “in tea.” Adil Chaudhry proudly unrolls a flexible solar panel mat, which will power his iPod all the way from here to the finish line. He plans to play an audiobook, Sailing Around the World, by Joshua Slocum, while he walks the course. “I’ll be walking, but sailing, too.”
And in true Italian fashion, Nicola Benetti has packed two boxes of Toscano brand cigars. “After the race, I sit around the fire and smoke one cigar a day, and I feel like I’m staying in a five-star hotel,” he says. “They make me happy, they don’t weigh much, and you don’t inhale – so you can still get up and run the next day.”