Race Day Kit: What to Bring to a Marathon

My race day kit prior to the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler last year.  Click to enlarge

My race day kit prior to the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler last year. Click to enlarge

We’ve all experienced that pre-race anxiety –wondering if you’ve trained enough, tapered enough, brought everything you need, and if your alarm clock will go off at the right time.

There are some things that you can’t control about your race experience. But being prepared with a race day kit can help make your run a lot more comfortable.

You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that you didn’t forget anything important.

Your Race Day Kit . . .

If you’ll be traveling away from home make sure that you lay out each item and go over a mental (or paper) checklist to see that you have everything. It’s also very helpful to carry your essential race day items in your carry-on luggage if you’ll be flying so that you don’t have to risk a delayed or lost bag.

If you’re doing a race close to home this process can be done 1-2 days before the race. In fact, we’ve all seen those pictures posted on Facebook of the flat runners. This can be a great way to ensure that you remembered everything. So, what should be in your race day kit?

Recommended Items

  • Pre-race Gear and Information: This will include: race confirmation number, any paperwork needed to pick up packet, flight confirmation, hotel and rental car information, ID or passport, and insurance cards. You’ll also need directions to race expo and start line, parking information or ticket if applicable. Other useful items include snacks, alarm clock, sound machine/ear plugs if needed, pillow, and prescription medications/vitamins. If you need to eat something particular pre-race be sure to have that food available along with a disposable water bottle for race morning.
  • Throw away gear (depending on temperature): Warm hat, gloves, long sleeve throw away shirt, pants. For rain a large black garbage bag, plastic shoe covers or even an old pair of shoes can help keep you dry until the start time. Toilet paper in case the port-a-pots are out can also come in handy.
  • Gear bag (if the race doesn’t provide a bag for gear check) + plastic bag for wet clothes & shoes.
  • Pre-race comfort: Sunscreen (to all exposed body parts), Body Glide® (I use Trail Toes) + carry Aquaphor® or lip balm. Band Aids® or Nip Guards® should also be applied as needed.
  • Running clothes (this will depend on the weather and your preferences). I wear pretty much the same outfit for every marathon so that makes it very easy to plan: running skirt (shorts, capris, tights, pants), tech top (singlet, short sleeved, long sleeved), light jacket for rain or cold if needed, socks (tested on previous long runs), sports bra and any undergarments that you prefer. A hat/visor or hair/sweat band can also be very helpful plus a ponytail holder (or whatever you’ll need to keep your hair under control).
  • Bib with safety pins or other holder + timing chip if separate from bib.
  • Race shoes: with orthotics or inserts if needed. Your race shoes should be tested and already have a few miles on them.
  • Watch and charger: make sure it’s charged the night before.
  • Other optional gear: compression sleeves, arm sleeves, Road ID, smartphone/holder, ipod/holder, headphones, sunglasses, feminine hygiene products, pace band.
  • Fuel (with holder whether it’s a hand-held, waist pack/belt, hydration pack): For me that equates 2 baggies of pre-measured Generation UCAN® + 8 oz hand held bottle + shaker bottle; Electrolytes and any other pre-race supplements in a little bag.
  • Post– Race Change clothes (can be placed in check bag): The Undress (a way for women to discreetly change clothes), compression pants, clean underwear, socks, shirt, jacket, flip flops or other shoes. Towel, wet wipes, and Kleenex. Money for food post-race or taxi ride. Recovery drink or bar that you’ll want post-race. Don’t keep anything in your drop bag that you can’t afford to lose.
Download Your Own Copy of the Race Day Kit
Trevor created a downloadable checklist of this blog post in PDF format, right click here to save to your computer. Select “save target as” or “download linked file”.

Flat Runners!

I’ve been told that when you lay out your clothes the night before a race it’s called a flat runner. Somehow we missed this brilliant runner slang when we did our Running Terminology episode.

This flat runner photo is courtesy of Academy member Debbie Gelber.  I love the skull compression shorts!

This flat runner photo is courtesy of Academy member Debbie Gelber. I love the skull compression shorts!

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