Congratulations! You signed up for that marathon on the other side of the country, you followed your training plan to a “T”, and now it’s time to pack your bags…but what should you put in those bags??? Packing for a travel race doesn’t have to be panic-inducing if you have a plan. Organize your list into sections and check things off as you put them in your bags. (What you pack in your various suitcases may depend on whether you are flying or driving – so keep in mind TSA rules about liquids and gels in your carry-on.) Here’s a list to get you started:
- Signed waiver (if your race requires one)
- Identification (passport if an international race or just your driver’s license)
- Directions to/from the expo and race site
- RUNNING SHOES! I strongly recommend these go either on your feet or in your carry-on.
- Race day outfit. Again, put this in your carry-on if you can. Lay everything out before you pack it – do you have your bra, shirt, shorts, socks? Any “costume” pieces you plan to wear?
- Back-up race day outfit – because you will be traveling and can’t just go into your closet to grab a different running shirt race morning if the race temp is drastically different than what you’d expected, a back-up for a dramatic weather change is a good idea.
- Throw-a-ways for before the race if you’ll be waiting in cold temps. Goodwill and Walmart are great places to check. So is your husband’s closet. He really didn’t want that ratty old sweatshirt anymore anyway.
- Sunglasses or hat/hair ties, plus sunscreen if you are lucky enough to run under sunny skies
- Garmin or other GPS watch, if you plan to use one. Don’t forget the charger!
- iPod and headphones (or your phone), whatever you run with. Again, don’t forget the chargers!
- Race day fuel. You don’t want to have to rely on what might be available at the expo, especially if you’ve been training with a particular brand. Remember – nothing new on race day, so if you want to make sure you have your favorite Salted Caramel Gu, pack it. Think about how much you will need during the race.
- Bodyglide, Vaseline, your favorite anti-chafing lube
- Fuel belt if you run with one.
- Breakfast for race morning. If you have always had oatmeal before your long runs, bring a packet with you. No telling what might be available at the hotel or if they’ll even be serving breakfast at the time you need to be out the door.
Travel Documents and Whatnot
- Copy of your itinerary
- Plane tickets
- Car rental info
- Hotel info
- GPS/Car charger if you are driving your own car
- Cell phone and chargers
- Printed maps – especially if you are unsure as to whether a cell signal will be available
Post Race and Misc.
- Foam roller/stick
- Comfy post-race clothes to put in your gear bag – yoga pants, a bra and a t-shirt are a good start
- Post-run fuel if you are worried about the spread at the race. This is particularly important if you have specific dietary needs.
- Compression socks and a spare pair of shoes
- Your usual vacation items: makeup, clothes for sightseeing, hair care supplies, undies, toiletries, etc.
Obviously, where and when you are going will dictate a lot of what you’ll pack. Here are a few other “tips” for packing for a travel race.
Pack your shoes and race outfit plus any other “can’t do without” gear in your carry-on. The majority of items you might need you can probably pick up at the expo but running your race in a brand new pair of shoes will likely get your race off on the wrong foot.
Plan something for breakfast. Either scope out what is near your hotel before you leave or when you get there or make sure to bring something with you. Many of my travel races have me leaving the hotel at 4 or 5 am and NOTHING is out for breakfast and few places are open. Is there a 24-hour Starbucks nearby? That would be great info to have. Stop at a convenience store on the way to your hotel or the expo and pick up some bottled water. Most of the time, hotel water makes me want to gag so I always buy my own somewhere.
Don’t rely on the expo. So many people think, “I’ll just get xyz at the expo” only to get there and find the expo much smaller than anticipated, the “flavor” they want isn’t there, or they just don’t have time to shop. If the expo is huge, it might just be too overwhelming and stressful.
Bottom line: If you think you’ll need it…PACK IT.