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A Complete Checklist of Everything You Need Before, During, and After a Race

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Photo: Mikael Damkier (Shutterstock)

It’s race weekend. You’ve trained for months, putting in grueling hours and surviving unseemly chafing. You’ve gotten through taper madness by making a mental plan (when to wake up, what to eat, what to wear). You finally get to the starting line only to realize—your watch isn’t charged. Or you’re wearing the wrong sports bra. Or worst of all: You forgot to clip your damn toenails.

Whether you’re traveling for a marathon in an unfamiliar city or gearing up for a local 5K, here’s your ultimate race weekend checklist.

Pre-race

  • Race confirmation
  • Hotel confirmation
  • Plane/train/travel tickets
  • Proof of vaccine or negative COVID test (double-check your specific race’s policies)
  • Mask (check your race’s policies—will masks be required during participant transportation, at the starting corrals, and/or during the course?)
  • ID (and passport if necessary)
  • Rain jacket (prepare for any weather, regardless of what the forecasters predict)
  • Headphones for the flight
  • Chargers for earbuds, watch, phone, etc.
  • Course map
  • Directions to race and number pick-up
  • Safety pins
  • Water bottle and hydration plan
  • Healthy, carbohydrate-laden snacks for travel
  • Area guide for restaurants and events
  • Extra cash or credit cards
  • Street clothes and shoes
  • Toiletries (including a travel-sized first aid kit)
  • Deodorant
  • Ear plugs
  • Travel alarm
  • Toilet paper (you never know)
  • Nail clippers
  • Hair bands (or whatever you need for your hair plan—two braids for me!)
  • Tweezers
  • Anything you want to download from home, such as your running playlist or race tracking apps (like RaceJoy, which your supporters will need to download, too)

Race

  • Watch or GPS
  • Singlet/short-sleeve or long-sleeve shirt for race, as weather dictates
  • Sports bra
  • Shorts/tights for race, as weather dictates
  • Old sweatshirt or T-shirt you can toss after a few miles
  • Socks
  • Shoes (orthotics, if necessary)
  • Band-Aids or NipGuards, if necessary
  • Vaseline or other anti-chafing lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with sunscreen
  • Hat or visor
  • Sunglasses
  • Gels or sports drink (ONLY if you’ve been training with them)
  • Energy bars (if you’ll be standing around for several hours before the race)
  • Fanny pack (if you run with one, in which case, you’re cooler than me)
  • Running belt, hydration vests (whatever you trained with)
  • Equipment check bag containing post-race gear (although many races provide this at the expo or bib pick-up)

Post-race

  • Extra socks (including compression sleeves or socks)
  • Extra shirt and shorts/pants
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Food (if you won’t be fed at the post-race festivities)
  • Towel
  • Ibuprofen
  • Plastic bag for ice, dirty clothes, etc.
  • Someone to take a picture of you and your medal

When packing, keep in mind one of the most agreed-upon rules in the running community: Nothing new on race day. Don’t learn this the hard way by trying out a tasty new gel or by breaking in a fancy new piece of equipment. Trust us—and trust all the hard training you put into this race. You got this.

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