Monday, February 3, 2014

what to pack when you travel for a race

so, you're traveling for a race. its a lot different than rolling out of your own bed and driving to the start line. preparation is key. i really don't think there is such thing as being "too prepared" when it comes to what to pack for a destination race. granted, in most places you could purchase things you forgot, but when it comes to racing, familiarity in your own gear is key. as i'm preparing for the princess half marathon weekend, i wanted to share my packing tips, especially those for a rundisney event!

1) make a list. check it twice.

santa was on to something when he decided to double check his list - and there's a reason: you never know what you might forget. i always make a list when i travel for races. always. no matter how many races i do, i always have the ability to forget. my approach is simple: i start by isolating the parts of my body and writing down every little thing that i put on my body to run. thinking about my last long run and what i wore helps with this, as does thinking about any possible thing i might want during a race. the list will seem long and overwhelming, but if you itemize, it greatly reduces the odds of forgetting something critical!

another common way to organize your list is to do it by time: night before race, pre-race, race, post-race, etc. my friend karen does a great job of organizing this way - check out her tips for packing!


my comprehensive list for princess half marathon


setting everything aside before i pack helps
ensure i have everything i need

a few things that are often overlooked, but important to pack:

  • id and/or medical id
  • cash and/or credit card
  • extra deodorant (one time i ran a race without deodorant and had terrible arm pit chaffing. keeping extra deodorant in my race bag would've saved me!)
  • any medicines that may be critical
  • any components that may help an injury (for example, if i get a blister or callus rub during a long race, i'll pack extra toe caps so i can cover it up and keep on going) 

i keep things like bandaids and medicine in a
small pouch in my race bag


2) carry on your race gear. always. (for air travel)

i can't stress this enough. heaven forbid your baggage gets lost and you end up having to run naked on race day. just kidding. but there is something terrible about the pit in stomach feeling you get when your luggage doesn't arrive on the carousel and all your running gear is in it. avoid that by packing your race gear in one travel on bag and carrying it with you where ever you go. you can take gels, and even powdered race fuel in carry on luggage, so don't worry about those, either!

pro-tip: even though you're carrying on, make sure you have a luggage tag on your bag! this is even more helpful if your carry on is the same bag you use on race day.

my race gear carry on and my race day bag

3) okay, but what if i'm doing a rundisney race, don't i need to pack more special things?

sure! there are lots of things to consider when it comes to packing for rundisney. the obvious allure of a rundisney race is meeting characters and taking lots of pictures so you'll want to decide on your picture taking device. as silly as it sounds, i recommend going out for your long run with your camera or phone and giving it a try, take pictures, etc, to see whats most comfortable. whatever works best, bring that with you. rundisney does a great job at making their races accommodating, meaning they have just about everything and anything you could ask for, but here are a few ideas of extra things you might want to consider packing:

  • camera (even a disposable can be fun. remember those?)
  • kleenex or wet wipes in case, heaven forbid, porta potties are out (not usually a problem, but better to be safe than sorry. you can use normal toilets in the parks during some parts of the race!) wet wipes are great for post race sweat, too!
  • costume (maybe a no brainer here, but if you're going to wear one, make a special list of all your costume pieces to check off when packed!)
  • group identifiers - if you're in a group like team rundisney, or another meetup, wear identifying pieces, like a pin or badge, so other group members can find you
  • costume fixers - in case your costume falls apart mid-run, its helpful to have extra tape, safety pins and bobby pins on you to fix costume emergencies!

part of the rundisney fun is dressing up - pack your swag or buy
some before the race :)

4) other things to consider: packing for weather, packing for after the race

race day weather may mean you need to bring some extra layers. disney races, for example, start really, really early which means it tends to be chilly. you might want to bring a sweatshirt to stash in your checked bag before you head off to the corrals, or do what a lot of folks do and wear a long sleeve shirt you don't mind throwing away and ditch it a mile into the race (or whenever you warm up). old race shirts are great for this. you can also go to the thrift shop and grab something on the cheap and people will even wear trash bags to stay warm right before the race. do whatever suits you. i prefer using arm warmers, as i can take them off easily and they stuff into my pockets super quick.

take it from me on this one, its better to be safe than sorry: the princess half i ran in 2010 was so, so, so cold in the morning and i had no layers. i regretted under packing. learn from my mistake!

i also tend to get chilled very quickly after a race, so i will always pack a sweatshirt and sweatpants in my checked bag so i can slip them on quickly after i'm done running. makes the wait time between race finish and a shower more tolerable! i also like to bring some flip flops - i am known to kick off my shoes in the finish chute and carry them with me, flip flops keep my socks and feet clean. :) 

packing sweats was the only way
my sister and i survived the chill post wine & dine!

5) fuel/food

if you're doing a long race, you'll also need to consider what you'll eat before hand, or during. if you've been eating the same thing before your long runs, a race is not the time to try something new. i always make sure i either pack with me my pre-race fuel, or know with 100% confidence that i can buy what i need when i arrive at my destination. the same goes for gels, or beans or chews - i don't risk that the expo might have what i'm used to. i will always pack all my fuel and bring it with me.





if this post was too long or too hard to read, i also made a handy dandy packing list that has all of this, and more, that you can use as a packing guide. check it out here! (or click the picture above) please make a copy of this spreadsheet to edit and use for your packing purposes. 

this post has been part of a rundisney blog hop, aimed to prepare readers for the princess half marathon in a few weeks! make sure you check out the other posts in the series for more rundisney action :)


Virtual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Blog Hop Directory

35 comments:

  1. Great job Alicia...very helpful..I can be scatter brained! Totally agree about Disney Park swag too...makes it fun.

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    1. I know - I am on the look out for something I can wear for the race. Will be hunting on Thursday and Friday before - Downtown Disney, the parks, etc. Will be fun shopping!! :)

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  2. Great post Alicia! I definitely need to be checking my list twice! I once forgot to pack PJ's during a race weekend! I guess I was too caught up in what I needed for race day and forgot the simple stuff!

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    1. YES! That's that's a great point - I should have included a note about that, as my post leaned heavily towards the race stuff to pack, versus the entire packing duty :)

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  3. I LOVE your idea of packing based on body part haha First I've ever heard of that. And I completely agree on packing what you need most in carry on. I always pack my sneakers carry on because I can always buy a shirt and leggings but I could not run a half marathon in brand new sneakers.

    Great write up!

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    1. Thanks Meg!

      Body part is the only way I won't forget a piece. It works. I used to have these awesome clips for your running shoes that hung them onto a travel bag. They broke, but they were fab b/c they left so much room inside the bag for everything else - I wasn't trying to cram them in! I also started wearing my running shoes on travel days, this way I KNOW I'm not forgetting them! :)

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  4. Great post! I would second packing the extra "in case of emergency" essentials for your costume, as someone who had to take safety pins from my bib to keep my Dopey costume intact during the WDW Marathon last month, haha. :)

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    1. OH gosh!! Thank goodness for those bib pins! Maybe a good tip is to grab a couple extra at the expo too, just in case!

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  5. Perfect pointers for any destination race Alicia! Sooner or later we all know the desperation of trying to scour the expo for that one "must race with" that we left at home. (And yes, my toe caps are one of them!) I printed out your spreadsheet so that I will NEVER do that again. Thank you so much for joining the Virtual Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Blog Hop!

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    1. THANK YOU! for allowing me to participate! This was such a great blog hop - so much knowledge in all of the posts, I just loved it! I need to go order some more toe caps, now that you mention it again...

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  6. It's funny, you're never too experienced for a list. Seems like most of my races involve travel and the one time I didn't put together a list it was a disaster of packing.

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    1. Agreed - you're in a frenzy, trying to throw things together, you've done this a million times so we think we know everything... and then you forget critical items. Has happened to me too many times! I tend to forget things race morning too, so making a sub-list, of things to take TO the actual race has even been a life saver!

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  7. Wow, I never would've thought to make my list in order of body parts. So smart! Also, I'm totally bookmarking this because I know it'll be awhile before I do a destination race, and don't want to forget all this info!

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    1. :D I think a list like this comes in handy even for vacation and packing workout stuff. Same idea, you don't want to be without something you really need to workout!

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  8. I agree with all of this! I now tend to overpack, but it's always best to be prepared. Sometimes the weather likes to play tricks on you!

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    1. 100% Agreed. I overpack too, but you never know when weather can turn. I will have minimal clothing for high humidity and heat plus warm sweats for a cool morning start. :)

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  9. This will be the second time I've traveled for a race, with Tink 2014 having been my first. First time flying to a race as well, and I'm so paranoid that I'll forget something! Thanks for the awesome post; maybe it will save me a headache or two!

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    1. Totally understand the paranoia! I have it as well. Lists help with that 100%. Hopefully you'll have a few headaches saved before your next race!

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  10. I hadn't even thought about packing my race day things in my carry on! Great advice!

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    1. If the point of the trip is the race, then thats the absolute minimum I must have with me for the trip. Everything else I can usually replace, but not the race gear!

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  11. I overpack because I'm always afraid I will forget something - thanks for the reminders of what I'll need to bring!

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    1. No problem :) And if you think of anything I can add to the list, let me know! Happy Packing!

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  12. Great list! I tend to over pack, but I still find that I don't have things I need like band aids. How can I leave on a racecation without band aids??

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    1. Right?!!? The smallest, simplest things, but yet most critical, totally pass through our minds! Its amazing.

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  13. Great post, alicia!! Love your comprehensive list! :0) Thanks for the shout out!!

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    1. Thank you, Karen! I thought your post paired nicely - the timing was too perfect :)

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  14. Great post! I started the packing list when I first started running Disney races and now I cannot pack for a trip without one.

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    1. Thank you!! :) I think Disney races are particularly important to pack for - there's just so much going on!

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  15. Great post Alicia! I too am a list maker when it comes to packing for a race! I can't live without my list lol!

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    1. I'm the same way with to-do lists, are you? I think its a good thing to have them handy!

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  16. Thanks for the tips! I hate being cold in the corrals, so a throw away layer is critical! And when I had to fly to Tink they made me gate check my carry-on with all my race gear and I was nervous the whole flight!!

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    1. Oh my gosh, I would have PANICKED if I were you! Gate check is terrible when you have crucial items that you wanted to carry on for a reason! I'm glad it all worked out for you :)

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  17. Absolutely love this! I tend to have OCD with anything that involves packing so if it involves a list of some sort than it's right down my alley :)

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    1. Thank you!!! :D I'm usually a last minute packing, so lists are my saving grace!

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  18. Super helpful post! Though I'm only traveling three hours to Disney I still have to make sure I don't forget anything. I love your Google doc!

    BTW I also love your handwriting! So pretty :)

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Getting comments feels as good as a freezing cold glass of Gatorade on a hot summer day. So don't be shy - share your thoughts & opinions! - Alicia