At a book signing at the Top of Utah earlier this year, I was seated next to a gentleman and his mother who were selling a product called the Chillalo. Curious as to what exactly the product was, the owner of the product, Thomas Zarembinski, showed me how the band could be filled with ice and worn as a headband or on the bill of a hat to help cool a runner in warm temperatures.
I was intrigued by the product and told Tom that it might even work better for ultra runners who are often exposed to the variety of temperatures that comes with running for 24 hours-plus. When I was running the Old Dominion 100 mile race, I was saddled with 90 degree temperatures and humidity high enough to make me very unhappy. Fortunately, in a pinch, one of my crew members had fashioned a neckerchief filled with ice cubes to try and help soften the blow that the riding temperatures were having on me.
It was a workable solution but I figured there could be a better way to do this. The Chillalo seems to be that option.
The Chillalo consists of a very light weight fabric with a ventilated mesh side and a solid colored side. At the end of the "tube" is a velcro opening allowing the runner to dump ice cubes into to tube.
Velcro it closed, slipped it over your head onto your hat, or even all the way around your neck and presto.
Tom was kind enough to offer me a Chillalo to test-drive, if you will and I gladly accepted. However, with this already being mid September and Utah experiencing an early fall, there were really no opportunities for me to test out the product. Then I remembered I was going to Hawaii.
I thought about wearing the Chillalo for the entire race, and changing the ice as need be during the race but I knew I would be focusing on other things at the time. As such, I took the Chillalo out on some test runs in the day leading up to the race. I was pleased how well it worked. I thought the mesh might chafe a little on the neck but the holes are so small that there was no grating. Around my neck, the ice cubes did have a tendency to sort of shift forward off of the back of my neck and towards the front of the Chillalo but when I wore it on the brim of my hat (its intended place, mind you) it worked like a charm.
Now, Tom has just started this product and is working on better design models and ways to make it even more runner friendly but I think he has hit, if not a home run, at least a stand-up triple. His website is under construction (and I will update this post when it is up and running) but in the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about the Chillalo, they are $19.99 and can be ordered directly from "Tom's Running Tools", phone: (801) 230-5087