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How to Combine an Ultramarathon with a RV Trip in the National Parks

One ultrarunner shares tips on how to plan an RV trip around an ultramarathon after doing a 100-miler near the Everglades in Florida.


While planning a trip to Biscayne and Everglades National Parks in Florida, I peeked on in search of an ultramarathon in the area around the time my husband and I planned to visit the parks. And voila! There was indeed an ultramarathon, albeit far from these national parks, in Pensacola, Fla. I registered for the 2017 Wildcat 100 ultramarathon, my 21st ultra. The deciding factor was the availability of RV hook-ups at the race site. Plus, I had been training and had completed a 24-hour ultra in May. Combining an annual summer vacation in America’s national parks, with an ultramarathon, seven states away from home was a go.

Combining visits to a national park with a 100-mile ultra event in an RV makes for a fun trip. There’s no getting in and out of a car and into and out of a hotel/motel. The RV is your home on wheels with bed(s), a bathroom/shower, and a kitchen. It’s easy to hook up and unhook to water, electric, and sewer at the RV parks and campgrounds. We stayed in two different RV parks: Miami Everglades Resort and KOA Sugarloaf Key.

Based on our experience, follow these tips on what to pack, how to pack, and how to grocery shop for life in the RV and preparing for a 100-mile race.

Hiking/Running Clothes and Gear

1. A hundred miles is a lot of miles. Generally, the time limit is 30 to 32 hours. The Wildcat 100 time limit is 40 hours. Pack several sets of running clothes: shorts, skorts, sport bras, and singlets/tanks. The weather can change. Pack a rain jacket, light jacket, long sleeve shirt, running tights, caps, bandanas, cooling towels, underwear, compression wear, socks, and sport sunglasses.

2. Pack neatly. Pin each set of shorts/skort/running tights, singlet, sports bra, and underwear together with a safety pin. Gentlemen, adjust accordingly. Next, roll each pinned set of clothes into a compact bundle. I packed six sets of running clothes and used three sets.

3. Your toes and feet will demand shoe changes. Pack several pairs of running shoes. I packed my Asics trail shoes, Asics Nimbus Gel shoes, Vibrams, and Birkenstocks in separate plastic bags. The weather can change and your shoes will get wet.

4. Pack your first aid essentials. In a clear Ziploc bag pack Band Aids, Neosporin, Desitin, Vaseline, bug spray, After Bite, athletic tape, pain reliever, Tiger Balm, duct tape, tweezers, small scissors, toe nail clippers, bandage wraps, gauze pads, KT tape, sunscreen, and medication you may require.

5. Pack hiking clothes, swimwear, and water shoes. Depending on the trail terrain in the national park, pack hiking boots. Carry the first aid Ziploc bag in your backpack.

RELATED: 7 Essential Pieces Of Gear For Traveling Runners

How to Pack It All

packing running gear

Renting RV kitchen/cooking supplies, and towels, pillows, and sheets is expensive. The first roll of toilet paper is free. So be creative.

1. Fill a pillowcase(s) with your neatly rolled running/hiking/swim clothes. First, line up the rolled clothes to fit in a clear white trash bag. Insert the filled bag in a pillowcase to form a pillow. Pack the clothes-filled pillow in your suitcase.

2. Pack towels/bed sheets. Roll each bath and beach towel. Roll the bed sheets. Pack them in a separate white trash bag. We packed two bath towels, two hand towels, a towel for use during the ultra event, a kitchen towel, and four bed sheets.

Cooking Essentials and Stocking the RV Refrigerator

 For cooking, we packed these items.

  1. A camp cooking pot
  2. A skillet with a folding handle
  3. A pocket knife
  4. Condiments
  5. An apron


Healthy dishes

Before heading to the RV campground, go grocery shopping. In Florida, we shopped at Publix supermarket. Make a shopping list. Buy only what you need and what will fit in the compact RV refrigerator/freezer. Plan meals ahead of time. Our shopping list consisted of the following:

  1. Protein: chicken, pork, bacon, and eggs.
  2. Vegetables: asparagus, mushrooms, onions, spinach, cauliflower, and malanga (similar to taro root).
  3. Fruit: watermelon, bananas, peaches, mangoes, avocados, and tomatoes.
  4. Liquids: water and seltzer, dark chocolate almond milk, canned coconut milk, and Pepsi.
  5. Condiments: garlic butter and olive oil.
  6. Paper goods: a roll of paper towels (also used as napkins), paper plates and plastic ware for two people, a small bottle of dish soap, a sponge, and cleaning wipes to last the duration of the racecation without being wasteful.
  7. A Styrofoam cooler and ice.
  8. Special treats: Puerto Rican bread and shortbread cookies, and brownies from the bakery (we eat Paleo, but we’re technically on a vacation).
  9. Reuse grocery bags to collect trash. Reuse the white trash bags for dirty laundry.


RELATED: Why You Should Plan a ‘Runcation’ (And Travel Tips for Runners)