Interview with one of Australia’s most versatile endurance athletes, Courtney Atkinson: the seven things he takes on every trail run

No matter where you are trail running, there’s a few essentials you should always have on you to ensure you are not only safe, but can take full pleasure in each and every experience.

After a recent trip tackling eight of the best trail runs in Australia across each state/territory in just seven days, Courtney Atkinson, a multi-Olympian and endurance athlete, is sharing his seven essentials he takes on every trail run. Now you can spend less time worrying and more time experiencing some epic runs around Australia’s beautiful scenery.

1. Water Purifier

The first thing I’ll always have with me is a water purifier. This has got me out of trouble more times than I care to remember. On previous runs, I’ve had to literally scoop little bits of liquid out of mud to just get some fluids back into me, so this is a dream to have.

I know there’s a lot of straws and other biologic purification devices these days, but the Befree is the best. I’ve never once got sick from it and I think whether you’re out hiking with kids, or just day to day, it’s a great thing to have in your backpack.

2. First-aid kit

The second thing is a simple first aid kit. You know the drill – scissors, band-aids, slings, strapping tape, some pain medication. But also don’t forget a survival blanket, or survival bag – it’s essential if you need warmth for the night.

It’s one thing to actually be carrying it, but the thing with first aid is you’ve actually got to know how to use it, so make sure you’re first-aid literate before you set off!

3. Satellite trackers

The third thing is actually my main fail-safe – satellite trackers. There are two main reasons I’m carrying one of these. Firstly it is so that someone at home can track me and see where I am on the map. Secondly, it’s because they also act like an EPIRB device so if I really get in trouble, I can call the emergency service with the push of a button. You never want to do that, but it’s imperative to have on you when you’re out in some of these remote locations.

The one I use is a SPOT, it’s a really simple device that will sync to your mobile phone so you can also send and receive messages even when you’ve got no mobile reception.

4. Mobile phone

Fourth thing, and it sounds crazy because you’re out of mobile service most of the time, is a mobile phone. And not so you can chat to your friends and family as you jog along, but so that you can see exactly where you are on the map.

I use an app called MAPS.me, which works without cell service or mobile reception, so you can navigate without a compass and map and still know whether you need to go left or right.

5. GPS wristwatch

So that leads me to the fifth one, which is actually a GPS wristwatch. Yes, I want performance data like my heart rate, how far I’ve run, how quick I was, how good I was against other people (by comparing on Strava).

However, the main thing with the GPS wristwatch, the better ones these days, is it’s got a breadcrumb trail (I use Suunto Baro). So if you get lost or you get off trail and you don’t know how to get back home, it will help you navigate back to the start point.

6. Gloves

If you’re really “going bush” or you’re doing a hard hike, I suggest you pack a pair of gloves. I’ve done some runs without them and my hands have come back ripped up and sore. So if you’re going rough, need to scour up rocks, are near a beach with Oysters or something similar, I think always having a handy pair of gloves in your bag as a bonus item.

7. GoPro

Everyone wants to show where they’ve been – if you’re out there hiking to the top of a mountain you want to show off not only the achievement, but also the scenery. For me though, it’s that I want to share these epic and picturesque experiences I am doing to hopefully inspire others to get out there and do the same.

I choose a GoPro as it’s the easiest camera for me to take, as it slots into my pack while I’m running, it’s light, it works well, and it’s got good stabilisation.