Packing for an Out-of-Town Marathon

For out-of-town events in particular, don't wait until the night before you travel to collect and pack needed items. Rather, make a list of things you wish to take and begin gathering them in the days prior to departure. Also, pin your race number in advance to the front of your singlet or T-shirt. It's a good idea to take some toilet paper with you to the race site in case there's none remaining when you visit the restrooms.

A day or two before the race, check the weather forecast for the marathon site. Plan and pack for all possible types of weather conditions, given the season. Even if your online weather forecaster predicts great weather for marathon day, conditions can change. Although you can't control the weather, you can prepare for it.

Don't worry about overpacking; it's better to have everything you need than to have to buy articles at the last minute in perhaps an unfamiliar place.

The Essentials

If you're flying to an out-of-town race, pack your running shoes and essential marathon apparel in carry-on luggage in case your baggage should be lost or delayed. Due to variables such as weather conditions and food preference, the following essentials list is suggestive. Try to allow for all contingencies.

  • Clothing: Singlet,* shorts,* sports bra,* socks,* shoes,* gloves,** hat,** T-shirt (long and short sleeve),** sweatshirt,** tights,** warm-ups (jacket and long pants)**

  • Other handy items: Running watch, Vaseline® petroleum jelly, Skin Lube® or BodyGlide®, foot powder, handkerchief, shoe laces, small gym bag, lock for locker, towel, race confirmation (to receive race number, if applicable), ibuprofen (or other pain and anti-inflammatory medicine), safety pins, sweat bands, analgesic creams (for example, Bengay®, Myoflex®).

  • Possible food items***: PowerBars®, gel supplements (for example, GU Energy Gel®, Clif Shots®, PowerBar Gel®), snack items (such as bagels, whole-grain muffins, honey sticks, fruit), carbo-loaded sports drinks, bottled water. (Since airlines no longer allow you to bring bottled liquids on board, if you are flying, plan on purchasing water at your final destination.)

[NOTE]*If traveling to the race by air, pack these in carry-on luggage in case your checked bag does not arrive with you.

**Optional items to wear prior to and/or during the marathon. (Consider bringing clothing you can discard during the race after you warm up.)

***Be sure that you have experimented with all food items comprising your pre-race diet.

What About a Cell Phone?

This is a question only you can answer for yourself. Certainly, carrying cell phones everywhere has become part and parcel of the way we live today, so that not having one on you can feel strange.

A phone can just as easily clip on your running shorts or leggings as on the waistband of your everyday jeans, or you can carry the phone in a small fanny pack while you run. For long runs and marathons, it's important that the pack you use to carry the phone doesn't chafe or bump against you. Reasons you might want a cell phone on you are:

  • Emergency. Hey, accidents happen, and despite your careful planning and preparation, misfortune could come your way on race day. If you must stop running for some reason during the marathon, there will be assistance on the course, but having a phone would surely come in handy.

  • Child care. The time commitment you make to a marathon spans many hours. If you leave children in someone else's care, you may want the caretaker to reach you in an emergency situation.

  • To find someone. Even if you specify a time and place to meet up with family or friends after the race, circumstances might change. A quick call or text message can save anxious waiting time for everyone involved.

Even with such compelling reasons to have a cell with you, remember that many thousands of people, in fact, the vast majority, have run and continue to run marathons without cell phones.

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