What to wear for a 250km multi stage, self sufficient race across the desert? That was the question, the answer is easily X-Bionic. They’re not cheap, but wow are they worth it.

I did a lot of research leading up to the event to see what other runners had worn on similar events in similar conditions. I wanted something that would not chafe, I wanted short sleeves (but not no sleeves due to under arm chafing experiences previously), something that fitted well, was light weight, comfortable and technically functional.
My husband, Dion, and I visited Race kit in Matlock, and when talking to the owners, both of whom are experienced ultra runners, we decided there was no other choice! Without going into technical specs, which you can of course get off their website, the material is a strange mix, but lightweight and has all sorts of cooling functions. I just went for the ladies top, Dion, my husband, went for both the top and shorts, completing the entire outfit with their calf guards.
To test things out, we got into our gear, donned our packs and ran 34 miles from Didsbury, Manchester to Edale in the Peak District through the transpennine trail. This route certainly gave everything a workout, it was during our warm summer, so we did get to test the cooling effects as well. Happy with the results; no chafing, comfort etc; we were set to go.  It also got a good test on Avalanche events Fan Dance.

Testing out on the Fan Dance
Testing out on the Fan Dance

On race day in the Kalahari you could clearly see that X-Bionic was a fairly popular choice, a lot of people were asking us about it, as well as the other runners that were wearing it too. Had to get a picture of the X-Bionic quadruplets, all in matching sets!

X-Bionic quadruplets in matching sets
X-Bionic quadruplets in matching sets

The gear held up well during a punishing week of running in extreme temperatures, from running through a thunderstorm, and up to 45 degrees heat, through a sandstorm as well. A week without washing either our bodies or the shirts and no deodorant, I was very pleased to find that the material just doesn’t smell like normal technical running clothing. If I’d worn my normal tech fit clothing I would have stunk to high heaven! Not saying that I smelt of roses, but at the end of the week I smelt both mine and Dion’s clothes and they were not smelly at all.
Not one bit of chafing or rubbing; many of the other runners had plenty of tape on their bodies due to this effect, not wearing X-Bionic mind you!
The kit is still in good condition, a bit of rubbing marks where the back pack has rubbed, but certainly good enough to make it to the Marathon Des Sables next year in April.

It handles well in water too! My treat after finishing 250km of the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon.
It handles well in water too! My treat after finishing 250km of the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon.

The gear is so good in the heat, we are now both looking to try some of their winter gear out as well through the cold months of training.
If you are looking for too of the range gear that will give you no problems then invest in some X-Bionic clothing. It will go the distance and the last thing you need on any sort of endurance event is issues caused by poor or cheap clothing, there’s enough to worry about without that. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.