Preparing for Racing The Planet Georgia – Update

With 10 months before Racing The Planet: Georgia kicks off, I spent a bit of time this week reviewing my gear and mapping out how I’m planning to train for the event. 

(to date I’ve done essentially no specific training, and haven’t done a stage race in > 3 years).

Preparing for Racing The Planet Georgia - Update 1

Vardzia – part of the RTP route?

Background Research on RTP Georgia

The RTP team haven’t posted the actual route online yet, but they recently shared some photos from a course reccy

These images include FB post which include a scene that looks like Vardzia. This is based on some quick Googling on my part, so I may be way off.

But interestingly, Vardzia is in the South of Georgia – while the big mountain range, the Caucasus, rolls across the North of the country – around 200km North, actually.

Which leads me to think that perhaps the RTP route will be sticking strictly to foothill territory, which makes a lot of sense.

Regarding elevations and hills, the 4 Deserts website course info does state the following:

Georgia is a country of hills and mountains so the course has some elevation and hills, but there is no technical climbing involved. The majority of the course is at an elevation of 1,000 to 2,000 meters / 3,300 6,600 feet but there are some sections that are approximately 3,000 meters / 10,000 feet.

– Racing The Planet

 So I’m anticipating some gradients, but nothing too challenging for a typical trail runner.  The altitude will add in an interesting element, as 1000 – 2000m is certainly enough for the effects to be felt – and slow you down.

Looking at the weather, things should be pleasant  . . . hopefully low-to-mid-20’s during the day, and low-to-mid-teens at night. A typical September day in Georgia seems to be cloudy with around 30% change of rain (source).

So all-in-all, this course sounds runnable. Nice but not-too-hot days, and not venturing into the mountains.  Hopefully it stays dry for us that week.

Preparing for Racing The Planet Georgia - Update 2

Racing The Planet: Georgia Equipment

I’ve started a Google Sheet to track my equipment as I prepare – you can check it out.

Feel free to download it and make a copy, although it’s far from final – a lot of items are ‘work in progress’.

I also need to start researching and checking out the colder weather gear – this is the first self-supported stage race I’ll have done that’s in less than 30degC heat, so there are some new pieces I’ll need to find room for.

For my pack, I’ll definitely be rocking the WAA UltraBag 20L (+5L front pouch). I used it in RTP Namibia and loved it.  It was specifically designed for Marathon des Sables, so is built with stage racing in mind.

I find it holds it’s form better than other packs I’ve tried, and it is just possible to squeeze all of my gear into it’s slight 20 litre capacity (plus the front pouch).

Plus the bottle holder design hugs your body really well, and the long straws are just what you need.

I’ll also definitely be packing the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Rest Lite inflatable sleeping pad.  Although sleeping pads are optional on these races, they are totally worth the extra fuss.

I’ve tried foam and inflatable mats, and having discovered the NeoAir on my last SS stage race, I wouldn’t attempt another race without it. I might even splash out on the super light model they’ve put out more recently.

Almost all the other major pieces of gear on my equipment list are ‘TBC’ at the moment – I’ll continue to update my sheet as I solidify my approach.

Many of the little items – compass, blister kits – are things I’ve carted around from other races so don’t need to change out.

At some point nearer the race I’ll do a bigger blog on gear selection and packing.

Preparing for Racing The Planet Georgia - Update 3

RTP Georgia : Training Plan

OK so today I realised that with a little over 10 months to go, I don’t have any kind of structured training plan in place, so sat down and mapped out a quick one.

I’ll share the highlights here – it’s important to note that my training plan is based around my personal goal of running the entire race, not getting injured, recovering quickly, and achieving a certain average speed.

Everyone’s training will differ depending on their goals and lives, but here’s the highlights of my own at the moment:

Next 3 Months (Til End of 2019)

– Focus on strength, speed, and suppleness

– 2-3 gym sessions per week

– 2 x speed work-outs per week

– 1 x longer recovery run per week (slow and easy)

– daily stretching and light cross-training

– I also have some long run mileage targets to hit.

Jan  – April 2020

– Focus on building distance, maintaining strength and speed

– 1 x long run of gradually increasing length

– 1-2 x speed work-outs per week

– 1 x regular run

– 2 x strength training days

By March I’ll scale back to 1 speed work-out per week and add in another running day to increase my weekly mileage.

May – July 2020 (Peak Training Window)

The focus for these 3 months will be back-to-backs each week – a long run on a Saturday, then a slightly shorter run on the Sunday.

I’ll probably stop any speed training to lessen the risk of injury, and instead just otherwise strength train / cross train and go for regular short runs.

I have some draft pace goals for all these runs, but will firm them up nearer the time – no need to be too strict with it right now, I feel it’s important to just lay out a plan.

I’ll do the majority of my training runs without a pack – I find it can be bad for your posture and weighs you down unnecessarily.  Better to do most runs without the pack, and a few long runs with it to get used to it and sort out any issued you have with it.  

My training will peak around the end of July, then I’ll have about a 3 week taper before the race kicks off.

In terms of long run distances and things, I haven’t mapped that out yet. As the race grows nearer, I’ll blog again about my training – and share some numbers and distances.


In all, my preparation will probably mirror what I laid out in the Stage Race Handbook (available now for instant download).  I’m looking forward to revisiting the process after a couple of years of being out of the game, and I’ll continue to post on here as I do so.

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Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of His work has been featured in Runner's World,, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and playing with his two tiny kids. More at his bio.

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