The Utterly Inessential Marathon Shopping List: The ulitmate survival kit, headphones to drown out the pain and a marathon where one can run with wine

This week on Utterly Inessential, we admire those who take part in one of the world's biggest fundraising events as much as we balk at the concept of entering ourselves.

The tale of the first marathon is one I know well from my days as a classics student. Pheidippides (a young Greek with interesting priorities, but more on that later) ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the victory of the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., promptly expiring upon the completion of his task.

Now, I have a few issues with this story. First of all, it completely defeats the concept of ‘no news is good news’, a saying I’m very fond of as someone who rarely remembers to charge their phone. Secondly, it confuses me that people heard this story and did not think ‘someone died doing this, let’s put a safety warning on long distance running’ but instead ‘hey, what a great idea, let’s make this a widespread sporting event held in almost every country in the world’.

Finally, it has led to the normalisation of extensive exercise which is something I just fundamentally cannot get on board with, to the surprise of absolutely no one given how much gin I regularly include in this list.

Nevertheless, I do admire those who have signed up to run the London Marathon this weekend, especially those running for charity – runners have raised over £890 million for good causes since the race began in 1981. And thus, in the spirit of Utterly Inessential, I’d like to offer my help in any way I can, or, more accurately, in one very-specific-and-potentially-useless way.

The perfect training buddy


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Whether you run the race with headphones or not, these are a must-have for the avid exercisers in our number. The Libratone TRACK+ earphones offer four-step noise cancellation (which can be manually adjusted, an excellent safety feature for those training around busy areas) and eight hours of battery life, which should be enough for those running the race, provided they don’t walk (no judgement, I wouldn’t even attempt that). They feel great and they look smart, just remember to charge them up before the big day!

The Libratone TRACK+ earphones £169.99,

For all the bumps and bruises


If I’m considering this for everyday life, you should certainly be considering it if you’re a marathon runner on Sunday.

Armband for Smartphone (£5), First Aid Kit (£3), Drinking Bottle with Handle (£3), Sport Waist Bag (£4). All from

Idea: This T-shirt, but with pub stops

Cambrian London Marathon T-shirt_50

Iffley Road was founded by Claire and Bill, a husband and wife duo who aim to create gear people actually want to wear running. Putting aside my biggest fear for long enough to read the company’s story (marrying into a family who do Fun Runs on the holidays, for those who were wondering), it became clear that Claire and Bill are really very passionate about their very British brand, which creates good, highly technical clothing which lasts. Their name comes from the Oxford track where Bill ran the first sub four-minute mile, a sentiment I completely understand because if I ran a sub four-minute mile I would name my firstborn Iffley.

Perfect for runner or supporter, the super soft Cambrian T-Shirt maps out the route of the infamous marathon route with a tasteful scattering of the landmarks the runners will be able to see through their sweat and tears.

Cambrian London Marathon t-shirt for £65 by Iffley Road,

Now, this is a run I won’t ‘wine’ about


If reading all of this had made you regret not signing up for the London Marathon, another classics-inspired phenomenon is taking place in September. Appropriately-named, ‘Bacchus’ participants will run through the beautiful Surrey countryside, enjoying delicious, award-winning English wine and locally produced food at refreshment stations along the course.

With choices from a full-marathon, half-marathon or the ‘Bacchus Lite’ (10km), there’s something in there for everyone, including live music from various bands along the route. Be right back, just booking a place for myself and and the colleague who enthusiastically edits Country Life’s wine column every week.

Entrants for the Bacchus Full and Half-Marathons pay £50 while the Bacchus Lite entrance fee is £30. Click here to book your place. 

The fruits of your labour

torrres wine

Speaking of said wine column, what better marathon motivation than knowing that there’s a delicious bottle waiting at home for you? This week wine expert Harry Eyres offers up a Mediterranean wine which ‘has been gaining in refinement, tautness and structure since its debut in 1970’, the 100% Cabernet Mas La Plana, from a single vineyard west of Vilafranca del Penedès.

Harry fondly recalled visiting the Torres vineyards where ‘the 80-year-old patriarch Miguel Torres used to drive me round the vineyards of the Penedès at break-neck speed’.

Torres Mas La Plana, 2012 vintage, £44 from

If you purchased our Marathon shopping list you would’ve spent £343.99 and good luck this weekend!