What To Pack For Your Next Relay Race

One runner has a list of everything you must pack to get you through your next relay race.

Nuun Hood To Coast

This week, myself and five other runners will start our 200 mile Ragnar DC journey from Cumberland, MD to Washington, D.C. This will be my fourth relay, but my first time tackling the distance as an ultra team of 6 runners (rather than a traditional team of 12 runners). I’m both nervous and excited for the journey ahead!

Here are some of my MUST-BRING items for a relay race:

  • Gallon-Size Plastic Bags—To make it easier to find your outfits between legs, pack your outfit for each leg in a gallon-size plastic bag. After your leg is over, put your stinky clothes in the bag and seal it up. This help keeps the smell to a minimum in the van.
  • Vest/Headlamp—In the three relays I’ve run previously, we shared vests. Thankfully I was with women I liked, because getting a sweaty vest that’s already soaked and putting it on is pretty disgusting. Save yourself the ick factor and pack your own. Ditto with the headlamp—I wised up and brought my own by the time I ran relay number three.
  • Neck Pillow—If you have room in the van, by all means, pack a real pillow. If, however, you are squeezing in to an SUV or something that is going to feel tight for six people, pack a neck pillow instead. When you are desperate for sleep, sleeping upright is going to feel like a very nice option.
  • Lightweight Blanket—Many people pack sleeping bags for these events, but I pack a blanket. It’s hit or miss if you will have a chance to sleep outside. If there is room in your van, I say go for the sleeping bag. If there isn’t, a lightweight, easily packable blanket will do the trick.
  • Eye mask & Ear Plugs—You want sleep, right? That means you may need to get it when it’s light outside and your van-mates are all hopped up on Red Bull (sans Vodka).
  • Cash—You never know when you might need this. It’s a good idea to keep some money in your pocket on your run. I got slightly lost in DC during Ragnar DC in 2009. I didn’t have any money or a phone and was mildly (really) freaking out in my head. I didn’t have any phone numbers of my van-mates memorized, so if I hadn’t found my way to the van, I would have been out of luck even if someone had let me use a phone.
  • Printout Of Your Legs—I got lost on a relay. Getting lost is zero fun. Print out your legs so you have a vague idea of where you are running turn by turn. If you don’t want to carry a phone and don’t know your van-mates numbers by heart, consider writing them on the back of your printout.
  • Two Pairs of Running Shoes—If you are tight on space, it’s fine to only bring one pair. If it’s raining or you are a super sweaty person, however, a fresh, not-soaked pair will feel nice when you run your second or third leg.
  • Socks, Socks and More SocksI always bring more than three pairs of socks on relays. You never know when someone else may need to borrow a pair and socks have a way of running away from you and hiding when you need to find them in your bag.
  • Gloves & A Beanie Hat—If it’s colder than you thought and you packed tank tops, gloves will do the trick. I run colder than most people, meaning that when everyone else is still wearing shorts, I’m bundled up in winter tights. I bring a beanie hat with me on relays because they are easy to take off and hold during the run should I get hot, or throw back on should I get cold.
  • Roll Recovery & Moji FootI purchased a Roll Recovery after other van-mates brought theirs to Hood To Coast. It was more than worth the investment and is a way to keep your legs feeling fresh over the course of 24 hours. The Moji Foot comes in handy for rolling out sore feet. Plop it on the floor of the van and roll away.
  • Gallons Of Water—There is no guarantee you will be able to find water on course to refill your bottles. Either pitch in and purchase a giant container for water, so you can refill your bottles, or pack gallon jugs of water.
  • Epic Bars—If you aren’t the type of person who wants to eat immediately after a run, you will have to change that for a relay. An Epic Bar is an easy way to get in protein immediately following a run.
  • Dramamine—If you get car sick, you need to not forget this. If you aren’t the type who typically gets car sick, you may want to bring this anyways. Running three times in 24 hours may push you over the edge.
  • Nuun—Staying hydrated is key during relays, and an electrolyte drink can help. Nuun is the official hydration drink of Ragnar Relay, and that should be a fairly good indication of how handy this product is during relays.
  • Toilet Paper—This one always gets laughs. You heard it here first: you will be the hero of your own story and all your van-mates when the honey buckets run out of TP and you have a fresh roll. After countless hours in a van, not finding toilet paper when you have to go can reduce you to tears. Always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to bathroom situations during a relay.

What are your must pack items for relay races? Tweet me at @mileposts.

Want to follow along on my adventure? I’ll be posting all the fun on my Instagram account.

Need To Read Up On Relay Races? Read On For More:
Three Reasons To Run A Relay Race
What’s It Really Like To Run A Relay Race?