12 Essential Items for Your Half Marathon Race Day

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Do you forget things like I do? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve forgotten an essential piece of gear such as a GPS watch, gel, or snack.


Runners are typically friendly people that they’ll share if they have extra but it’s so important to be prepared for your own race. Here are a few things I recommend bringing to your next half (but only if you’ve used them before of course. As they say: No new stuff on race day!)

One thing you’ll see on social media is a “flat runner” the night before. This is when a runner lays out all of the important gear they plan to use for a race. For example, here is mine from the Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon in Hampton, Va., last year. By laying everything out, you remember to bring everything!

Here’s what to pack on race day:

Running shoes: This is the most crucial piece of gear you must remember to bring. Unless you run barefoot make sure to pack your pair of running shoes. The best amount of mileage for racing on your running shoes is somewhere between 30-70 miles.

Race outfit: As I’ve learned the hard way, don’t wear new gear on race day. No one likes to chafe! Make sure you have everything you need. Don’t forget a sports bra, top, shorts, underwear, and socks! Sometimes it can be beneficial to bring two different outfits dependent on weather. There have been many races that I’ve made last minute changes due to a sudden change in weather.

Throwaway clothing: This is always dependent on the time of year you’re running too. If the weather is cold, torrential downpour, or for whatever reason, you need something at the start, bring it. At bigger races, the chances are the clothing you drop will be donated if you get rid of them. At smaller races you might even be lucky to get your clothing back.

Race information: If you already have your bib, definitely don’t forget that. If you need to pick up your bib, don’t forget whatever you need to do so.

A towel: You never know when you might need a towel. I keep an extra one in my car anyway.

Sun protection: Runners don’t realize how much sun they actually get while running. Make sure to protect your skin with sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

Body glide or vaseline: Have you ever chafed? Then you’ll know why body glide or Vaseline is so critical.

Pre-race and post-race snacks: Depending on the race, bring your fuel. I get hungry after a race and never rely on post-race fuel. Always make sure to have something you like.

Liquid fueling: This usually is more important for longer races or summer races. Do you prefer Nuun? Maybe Gatorade or Powerade? Whatever the case is, don’t forget it.

Checked bag: If you plan to check a bag, make sure to bring one to throw your stuff in. I am embarrassed to say I’ve forgotten that too and had nothing to check my gear in with.

GPS: Do you prefer racing with a watch? Make sure it’s charged and ready to go. I ran my first marathon without a watch because I forgot it. I’ve run many races watch free but if that is your thing don’t forget it.

Emergency kit: Every person, runner or not, should have an emergency kit in the car. Include first aid, bandages, emergency contact information, and extra cash. You never know when you might need it.

These are just a few basic things to remember to your race. What else would you add?

Hollie Sick is an avid runner who’s completed more than 40 half marathons. Read her blog, or follow her on Facebook.

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