Tips: Destination Races & Packing

I’ve briefly written in the past in regards to traveling and running, but  not so much racing. Now I’ve had the full on experience of worrying about having everything I might possibly need packed can write on it just a bit more.

To clarify I flew to D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon, so no throwing tons of things into my trunk just because I have the space. (Like I did with the Miami Marathon.)


Laying out my gear helped a lot.

Admittedly, when it comes to some items it wouldn’t be too big of a hit if you just buy it on location (like gels, socks, etc). There are others, like my Garmin or racing outfit that would be horrible to forget and aren’t exactly easily (or cheaply) replaceable. Didn’t stop me from being paranoid, making tons of lists, leaving sticky notes EVERYWHERE, and generally spazzing out as I packed.

Here’s a couple of tips sent my way via running friends and some lovely individuals from the Twitter #runchat involvees.

  • Make lists. Also, do not misplace your lists.
  • Have others look over your lists.
  • Have someone else (or several someones) make lists of their own for comparison. Some things they consider essential you might not, and therefore forget.
  • Ask other athletic friends & people you know who have run the race before for their recommendations.
  • Get your suitcase out early.
  • Place items you won’t need between now and leaving in your suitcase as soon as you think of it. That way, it’s already there.
  • And for the actual travel – if you are flying and plan to check your bags, consider taking what you consider race day essentials in your carry-on (like shoes and outfit). Just in case.

A few of the things I included as part of my travel are hopefully the norm.

  • My planned race outfit based on weather predictions.
  • Alternate outfits to compensate for any unexpected changes in weather such as dips or jumps in temperature or rain.
  • Throwaways (if the weather may be cold).
  • Extra sets of socks. (I wear Injinjis to run long distances/race in as my feet seem to take the least amount of damage in them, so I took a couple pairs just in case.)
  • A second set of shoes I’d be okay with racing in. If that first pair somehow got lost or damaged.

Two things I generally do besides just throwing clothes into the suitcase. First, I try to plan an outfit for each day based on what we’re thinking to do. This is harder for longer trips, but for MCM it was just 4 days. Include alternate race gear and an extra couple of shirts/long sleeves. Then, I set out every item I expected to wear or need for the race itself, as if it was the next morning. After doing these two things, I could tweak the outfits and extras based on weather as the trip got closer.

Between friends and family double checking, as well as repacking my suitcase 3 times against my lists, I managed to not forget anything. At all (yes, very surprising for me too). I think for long distance travel and destination races, it’s best to plan ahead as much as possible. While I did stress about it, at least in the end the technique worked and race day was able to happen smoothly.


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