Friday, October 14, 2011

Packing your bags for race day? A handy pre-race checklist

It's amazing all the stuff you need to pack to travel to a race; particularly when you're traveling far from home. Last spring, I traveled from Halifax to Toronto to run in the Toronto Marathon, and it was amazing how much room my running gear and equipment took up in my luggage.

Here's a quick checklist of things you will want to pack so you're ready to go on race day (I like to split it up into three bags):

The essentials bag:
- running shoes
- running socks
- Garmin (if you run with one) or sports watch (and charger if you're away for more than a day)
- gels or sports beans
- drink mix (if you use it)
- water belt and water bottles
- running top (you may want to pack two or three options (ex: tank, t-shirt and long-sleeved shirt), just in case the weather's unpredictable)
- extra running shirt for layering if the weather starts out cool (many races now collect discarded t-shirts along the race course and donate them to charity, which is a great way to get rid of that funky-coloured shirt you never wear)
- running jacket, if the weather looks like it's going to be cool
- running bottom (you may want to pack both shorts and 3/4 pants in case the weather's looking uncertain)
- gloves (again, if the weather looks like it's going to start out cool)
- hat or headband
- MP3 player and armband (and charger)
- BodyGlide
- Ibuprofen or Advil (I like to tuck one into my pocket for midway through a marathon)

The pre-race bag:
- sweater or jacket for before the run
- bagel and apple juice or other pre-long run breakfast food (if you're staying at a hotel)
- gloves (if it looks like it might be cool)
- Ibuprofen or Advil (this is not medical advice, but I like to take one before a race so that it kicks in partway through the run...But remember - never try something new for the first time at a race! If you've never done this, don't do it on the day of a race)
- safety pins (in case the race organizers don't provide them for your bib)
- race bib (if you picked it up before the race)
- camera (if you have folks who'll be watching you on the sidelines)

The post-race bag:
- change of clothes, including a hooded sweater or jacket
- emergency blanket (in case the race organizers don't provide them to everyone)
- banana, chocolate milk and/or any other post-race foods you found work (I also like salty chips)
- Gatorade or other sports drink that will absorb easily
- Epsom salts (if you're staying at a hotel or friend's house - that post-race bath, after the ice bath - will feel like heaven!)
- comfy shoes or slippers
- Band-Aids

Have I missed anything? What's on your race packing list?


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