Inov-8 Race Ultra 0.5 First Run

Altitude, lions, rhinos and hills might all be daunting but with temperatures for the Safaricom Lewa Marathon 2014 tipped to hit 35 degrees celsius and above, my thoughts have turned to one thing - how the hell am I going to stay hydrated.

There are water stations every 2km of the dirt-track wildlife conserve course but I’ve never been that great at taking on fluids while piling through these hydration points and I don’t fancy taking any chances.

With that in mind I’ve been testing out some brand new products from Inov-8, specialists in ultra running and trail running gear.

Today I got to try the Inov-8 Race Ultras 0.5, a clever little hand strap that claims to make it easier and more natural to carry bottles of water. 

It comes with its own 500ml soft Hydraflask with adjustable bungee cables to help keep those all-important fluids in place without needing a tense and energy-sapping grip.

I often run with a standard plastic 500ml bottle on longer training runs and it’s amazing how sapping that can be. I’ll end up flinging the bottle from hand to hand to ease the physical - and mental - drain. 

The Race Ultra 0.5 wants to put an end to that. I was dubious at first about whether this was really something I’d need or feel the benefit from. Having run with it for an hour during today’s 200m intervals track session, I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s a bit fiddly to get on at first but once it’s in place, it’s really very stable. It feels snug in your hand and you can flatten your palm without fear of dropping the bottle.

The addition of a bite valve means there’s no biting at sports caps or fighting with screw tops. Quick sips are instantly yours.

One criticism was that the adjustable straps loosened over the course of the run. This, in combination with there being less liquid in the the bottle, meant there was a little more movement than I’d like.

This worsened once the water levels reached a point that the bottom segment was the only bit that was full because of the exra tug.

That said, it comes with two pockets for keys, smaller gels, cards and cash that are really useful. And it was a vast improvement on carrying a plastic bottle.

I couldn’t suss out how to refill the 500ml soft bottle that comes with it, without taking it off but that might come with practice.

The good news is that it’ll also work with the standard bottles, making those easier to carry too.

I’ll use it a few more times before I put it on the Kenya kit list but I think it’s a great addition to any runner’s kit whether you’re a 10km, marathon or ultra fan.

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