The week leading up to a race can be stressful enough—hello taper crazies!—but throwing in packing for a destination race can lead to a pre-race meltdown!
Running can take you just about anywhere, so these tips work for wherever your race may be—from the Great Wall of China to the beaches of Oahu.
Pack less than you think you need: You are guaranteed to come home from a destination race with more than you came with. Even if you resist the urge to purchase something at the expo, you are going to be leaving the race with a medal, race shirt and often contents from a race bag. Leave room.
Shower caps are your friend: The one item I routinely take from hotels are the shower caps. I make sure each day to take it and stuff it in my suitcase, so the cleaning staff will leave me another one that night. Use the shower caps when packing your running shoes to keep those dirty soles off your clean clothes.
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Pack your post race outfit in a gallon size ziploc bag: Packing your outfit in a ziplock makes it easy to throw into the bag check bag. The ziplock will then come in handy when you remove your sweaty race outfit. Make sure to take off your bib number from your shirt before you throw it in the ziplock. Depending on the quality of the safety pins they literally can start rusting and leave a not so nice stain on your race shirt. note: if you are staying another night after the race – hang your sweaty clothes to dry in the hotel bathroom before repacking them in the ziplock bag for the return trip home.
Pack your Garmin and roll recovery in your carry-on: I’ve run exactly one race with out a watch. I plan on never repeating that again. Luggage gets lost, so it’s not a bad idea to pack your Garmin, race day outfit, running shoes and other must-have race day items in your carry-on. If you did lose your luggage, most everything else can be borrowed or bought in a pinch, but you really don’t want to spend time stressing about what you needed for race day (or worse yet, running a race in brand new shoes).
Pack running clothes: If there is anywhere that you can get away with wearing running clothes while not running, it’s at a destination race. A pair of black spandex leggings weighs less than a pair of jeans and if need be, can be washed in your bathroom sink and hung to dry.
Double bag your Gu’s, gels and race day nutrition: You do not want one of those suckers leaking all over your luggage, and trust me, sometimes one plastic bag fails you. Put the gels in one ziplock bag and then put that bag in another bag. One can never have too many ziplock bags when traveling!
RELATED: Destination Race Packing List
Pack a bathing suit: You may not think that you need one, or that you will have any desire to search out a pool or hot tub, but if post race you happen upon one and don’t have a bathing suit you are going to be annoyed. Nothing like a little R&R post 13.1 or 26.2. (Running clothes can work in a pinch, but a bathing suit is more comfortable)
Pack throwaway clothing: I’m a fan of wearing clothing over my race outfit that I’m going to ditch once the race starts versus using an old foil blanket from a previous race. The clothing typically gets collected and donated post-race, which makes me feel good. It also helps me a.) clean out my closet of unused clothing and b.) keeps me from over-packing because though it takes up space on the trip there, it isn’t there on the way home.
Stuff a dryer sheet or two in your packed bag: Let’s be honest, your running shoes don’t smell so fresh and if you didn’t take my advice about packing them in your carry-on, they are in your suitcase stinking things up. A dryer sheet helps keep your gear smelling clean and keeps you from frightening away any new running friends with your less than pleasant odor.
Little things make all the difference: I’m always that girl that if you need something little, I have it. Usually I’m the only person using said things, but it keeps me from stressing on race day. My little things list: safety pins, hair elastics, band-aids, Advil, blister relief, a small bottle of deodorant, a small bottle of body glide, pack of tissues, un-tinted chapstick and a small tube of sunscreen. Pack all this in a ziplock (have I made it clear that plastic bags are you friends?!) and it’s ready to go in your bag for race morning.