Silk Road Expedition – less than 1,000km to run!

Historic Silk Road Expedition – less than 1,000km to run.
Wuwei, China: 28th August 2011: After more than 130 days on the road, Running the Silk Road Expedition is within 1,000km of the finish line, Xi’an. This is the first expedition to attempt to run the length of the Silk Road.
2 runners, Kevin Lin Yi Chieh (Taiwan) and Bai Bin (Mainland China) have run more than 8,000km through Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu in China. The runners are due to finish their epic journey in Xi’an on September 16th, where Jay Chou (one of the co-founders of the expedition) will perform a new song dedicated to the project.
The team is running to raise awareness of water shortages in the Silk Road region, which in particular will benefit the Mother’s Water Cellar project which has provided access to drinking water for 1.3m people in the past seven years in China.
Kevin Lin, is one of Asia’s best known distance runners. The former 4Deserts Champion has also previously run across the continent of Africa in aid of water relief, in a project backed by Matt Damon, and turned into the movie – Running the Sahara.
The runners have been supported by an international team which includes Expedition Director, Andrew Strachan (UK, based in Hong Kong), Sports Physiotherapist Stephen McNally (Ireland), Doctor Joe Ahn (US), Logistics Manager Chen Hong Po and Photographer Chen Ro Hsuan (Taiwan).
Apart from the punishing running schedule, Kevin and Bai Bin have faced extreme high temperatures in Turkmenistan and China, snow in Turkey and sandstorms in Xinjiang, China. They were hospitalized in Iran after, it is thought, their water was contaminated with an unknown substance and physiologically have had to deal with shin splints and gastroenteritis.
Richard Chang, CEO of The Home Expedition, organizers of Running the Silk Road quotes: “The aim of The Home Expedition is to promote a more harmonious relationship between human’s and the Earth, our home. Running the Silk Road is the first project in realizing our dream.”
Expedition Leader, Andrew Strachan quotes: “We have enjoyed tremendous warmth and hospitality throughout Central Asia and are delighted to be ahead of schedule in our penultimate province in China. Kevin and Bai Bin have shown unbelievable powers of endurance running and are still achieving an average of 70km per day, after more than 4 months on the road.”
Any media enquiries (English) please direct to Andrew Strachan:
Andy media enquiries (Chinese) please direct to Janet Tseng:

Sports Bottle Holder – OMM-I-Gammy review

An efficient and comfortable hydration system are important during a long race.  If you’re taking part in an ultra when there may be 10k, 10 miles (or more) between a checkpoint then you have to be carrying some quantity of water.

Some people choose bladders/camelbacks but they don’t work for me for several reasons.

1) They are difficult to fill quickly at a checkpoint

2) You don’t really know how much water is left without taking off your pack and looking at it

3) They reduce the capacity of a backpack (important to multi-stage ultra runners who may be carrying a larger backpack)

4) They can split and you don’t realise until you’re empty and see a trail of water behind you for the last 5 miles 🙁

I’ve tried to use a bladder, and experienced all of the above at some point.  I gave up using them years ago.  Another option is to use a smart tube, perhaps just attached to the organisation supplied bottle of mineral water and not taking your own bottle.  Competitors in desert ultras sometimes do this.  I’ve did this myself in the MDS, and it works, but you end up with 1.5l swung across your chest/front pack and sometimes the smart tube screw cap doesn’t properly fit the mineral water bottle the organisers supply.  This results in loss of precious water; not what you want when it’s 50C and it’s 5 miles of dunes to the next checkpoint!

All of this lead me back to using sports bottle.  It’s funny because I started out with bottles at the beginning, but after a few short runs dismissed them.  Why?  the swing!  A shoulder strap holder for a 500-800ml sports bottle would invariably result in an annoying and sometimes painful (after a lot of miles) swaying motion when running anymore than about 4.5mph.  I do want a shoulder mounted bottle for convenience, and don’t want to be constantly reaching back for a bottle in a backpack side netting.

In the last year or so I used a OMM-I-Gamy holster.  The original was very lightweight (30g) but had several shortcomings in design, not least of which was that it still swayed.  I put up with it mainly because it was very light, and I was running long slow races and could just about keep it under control.  I read with interest that OMM had release a new version of the holster designed to be more stable.

I spoke to the nice guys, event organisers and ultra kit retailers at MightContainNuts, who’ve shaken up the UK Ultra event circuit in the last couple of years with some Challenging Ultras and low price promise on the kit they supply.

They had just received the new 2011 model in, and kindly sent me one to review, when I ordered a new OMM backpack from them.  The new model is far more substantial, but weighs about 25g more in fact.  It looks better quality, and fits onto a pack a lot easier.

I spent a couple of hours trying it out and event filming myself running with different configurations, checking how much or how little the bottle would sway at a steady ultra speed.  Eventually I settled on how it was best fitted, and went out yesterday and took it for a test drive, whilst doing a 25 mile event in the UK Peak District; so lots of steep hills involved but all very runable in between, so plenty of opportunity to get that ‘sway’ going.

I’ve done a quick critique on youtube video here, comparing it to the old model.

OMM-I-Gammy Review

The conclusion I came to after the event is that the new design is improved, and has indeed reduced the sway.  However you have to make a small modification (explained in the video) to further reduce the movement.  It’s a definite improvement on the old model.  It’s better quality, easier to fit and will hold a larger bottle if required (it comes supplied with a 500ml bottle).  If OMM really want to address this issue of sway, then the bottle needs to be anchored at the top, to reduce movement even more.  As it stands you have to make that modification yourself, and realistically have to use a bottle with a straw, so the bottle always stays in the holster between checkpoints, instead of the supplied push-cap bottle.

Another method I’ve seen are using two bottles at once (one on each shoulder), and tying a bungee cord between them to prevent movement. It works, but again it’s a custom mod.  Another bottle I’d like to try is the Salomon Custom Bottle Holder, which uses a traingular shaped bottle, in an effort to prevent a bottle rolling around.  It sounds a good principle but the bottle is larger, and I’ll remain unconvinced until I’ve seen it in action.  Until then, the modified OMM-I-Gammy, with a straw based bottle, is the best solution I’ve found so far.  For long races in hot conditions where organisers stipulate you must carry 1.5l to 3l then I normally carry a holstered bottle, and a 1l lightweight roll up platypus (30g empty) in the side netting of the backpack and use it to top up the holster bottle as required.

Thank you to Matt at for supplying the OMM-I-Gammy for review.


Sent on: 3 October 2011, 10.10 am BST.  Posted By: Paul Bateson

I have tried many chest harness bottle holders. The best is on the RaidLight Olmo 5 and 20, as they take 750ml bottles and they don’t sway. The Salomon SLab Skin pack also has totally stable bottle holders which will take a large bottle one side and a 500ml in the other. This pack comes with a good bladder but I don’t use bladders so the bottle pockets, which double as food or jacket pouches, are great for long races or training runs. I have also used the new OMM bottle holders which are a big improvement on the original but they could still be improved.

The OMM bottles fit well because they are tapered but they are a touch small at 500ml each so it is unfortunate that the holders are just too tight for a 750ml bottle. Many runners have a good collection of favourite bottles, such as the Camelback Podium bottles, but they won’t fit. The pouches still sway because they anchor too low down and although modifications can be made you shouldn’t need to do this when a product is in its second ‘improved’ production. OMM can really improve the pouches by altering the fixing so that it runs from the top edge, increase the size to take larger bottles and the best mod, sell them in pairs with an fitted external chest strap so they mimic the Olmo ones. The strap will immediately stabilise the bottles. You can add a strap yourself but when buying a product it should be good without needing mods.