Your essential race day checklist

February 04, 2015                 4m read time
Kathy Murdock

Don’t wait until race day to get your race day items ready. You’ll be too preoccupied that morning with trying to find four safety pins (trust us, even if you have them the night before you are likely to lose a few), locating decent parking (who wants to walk three miles after running 13.1?), and secretly scoping out the other runners at the starting line.  

Pre-race checklists are wonderful tools to help organize all your race day needs. Use this one to get your items together the night before, so that all you have to worry about the morning of the race is how many people are in line at the porta potties.

1. Clothes. Lay out your clothes, including shirt, bottoms, socks, shoes, calf sleeves (if you wear them), and a jacket and other cold weather running gear (hat, gloves) if necessary. If start time will be cold but end time will be warmer, consider wearing items you can toss as you go. Most races donate discarded items to charities like Goodwill. (You can even purchase your layers from a store like this pre-race.)

2. Sunglasses and sunscreen. Regardless of temps, two hours in the sun calls for skin and eye protection. For best coverage, choose a mineral sunscreen that deflects the sun’s rays or a sports formula that won’t run into your eyes, such as Sun Bum's Pro SPF 50. Apply thirty minutes prior to the race and reapply every two hours. If carrying the tube is not possible, squirt enough in a plastic baggie to get you through the race and store the baggie in your hip sack or backpack. For cold winter races where only a small amount will be necessary during the run, consider purchasing a sunscreen stick.

3. Fuel. This includes food and drink. Pack your fuel the night before your race. Carry foods in plastic baggies, and place these baggies inside a hip pack or backpack. If you plan to carry liquids, pour them into bottles and store in the refrigerator overnight. Store gel in pockets or pin them to your clothes if you don’t have pockets. Try one of these snacks for some solid food on the run:

  • Peanut butter and honey sandwiches, which are easy to carry and provide a good mix of carbs and protein
  • Graham crackers, because they offer a sweet fix on the run (make a graham cracker and nut butter sandwich to add in some protein)
  • Fig cookies, used by many endurance athletes, are sweet and easy to carry
  • Trail mix, mixed by you with your favorite carb and protein treats, such as M&Ms, peanuts, and pieces of cracker

4. Bib and safety pins. Some races will have extra safety pins, but pack enough to attach the bib to your clothes just in case. And then pack extra, because like we said above, you will lose a few. And when you pin your bib to your outfit, make sure the number is clearly visible and on the front of your shirt if you want to view photos taken on the course.

5. Timing chip. Some races include these in the bib. Some include chips that must be tied to your shoes. Get it ready the night before so you aren’t fumbling with it on race day morning.

6. Music. If you run to a beat, set out your player, headphones, and an arm strap.

7. Car key. This may not seem as important as, say, packing safety pins, but have a plan for storing your key. Some runners tie keys onto their laces. Others zip them in a hydration belt pocket. Wherever you store that key, store it well. If it falls out on the race course, you probably won’t be getting it back.

8. Route to the race. Check the race site’s directions, as some road closures are common. Figure out where you will park.

9. Parking. Determine how far the race start is from parking. Some races begin and end right next to the lot. Others require a shuttle or a long walk. Knowing how far you have to travel from the lot to the starting line will help you determine how much time you need to get to the race.

Kathy Murdock

Kathy works as a freelance writer and marketer from her home in sunny Florida. An avid runner, she has completed nine half marathons and two full marathons, along with a variety of other racing distances. She loves her family, long runs, hot coffee, and peanut butter.

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