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It's time to pack for your destination race!

Travel is officially back, and you may have a destination race on the horizon! Whether it’s been some time that you have traveled to a race or if this is your first time getting in a runcation, we have got some tips for you! Oh, runcations, the beautiful experience of having months of hard work and training to run a race in a magnificent location and hopefully, have friends and family with you. These trips make the early morning wake-ups, and skipping late-night social hours with friends and loved ones worthwhile. Add in the sense of adventure with visiting a wonderful new city or country before or after the race, and you’ll wake away thinking, “A person sure could get used to this.”

However, planning for an out-of-town race, can be overwhelming. It doesn't have to be!

I am fond of saying, "Having a great time still requires some hard work.” The great thing is that with the downloadable checklist, you’ll have a handy reference sheet of the work you need to do so that when you arrive at your destination race, the hardest part of your trip will only be whether or not you should have the second cannoli.

Speaking of cannoli, let’s dive in with some practical advice to note.

Don’t schedule most of your vacation before your race.

When traveling to a new destination, especially a new city or country, schedule the “vacation” part of your run after the race. You don’t want to be in a beautiful new city and have to limit your food choices, worry about going to bed early, or skip sightseeing because you still haven’t run your race and want to keep “trying new things before” race-day no-no to a minimum.

Do schedule enough time before your race to acclimate.

While acclimating to elevation and weather may be tricky due to the amount of time it takes to acclimate to both, you can and should still give yourself a buffer to help with the time change. Additionally, enough time should be allotted to visit the race expo to get your race bib, locate the start line, and even do a shake-out run. With travel being a bit more difficult post-pandemic, you absolutely should take into consideration giving yourself a bit more padding and buffer before the race in case your flight gets changed or canceled.

Don’t go into a race unprepared.

No, I’m not talking about training. Though, that is important as well. However, for this, I am talking about preparing yourself with the city, race course, and country’s customs. You mustn’t take for granted that while your hometown race is an easy pop-in, grab your bib and bagel while you walk to the start line. This may not be the case for a destination race, and rarely would it be the case for a big-city race. So do your homework. Plan on logistics like getting to and from the race and come up with an alternate just in case anything goes awry. Additionally, plan to pack your race day essentials, including anything you would need to obtain your bib on your carry-on. Keep that carry-on or personal bag close by, as it is very hard to convince the race organizers that they should give you the bib even though you lost your ID cards.

Do pack copies of important documents and a second race day kit.

If you are traveling with a friend or loved one, make copies of your passport, ID cards, race registration, and pertinent itinerary information, and ask them to pack it in their carry-on. It won’t take up much space and can be a lifesaver if anything goes wrong with your bag. While at it, if you have a checked bag or your travel companion has room in their luggage, pack a second race day gear bag with their things. Is this potentially overkill? Ehhh. Maybe, but what’s the worst thing that could happen by you packing a second outfit to choose from on race day?

Don’t try to keep up with your travel companions before race day.

If you are traveling with non-runners, awesome! It’s great to have the love and support of family and friends. However, remember that while they can get away with catching a late-night sightseeing tour or try the 8-course prix fixe menu at the “too-die-for” Michelin star French restaurant, you my dear have a race to run. It may not go that well for you if you have escargot and champagne till 2 a.m. I’ve been there, ran that, and have the DNF to prove it.

Do express gratitude to your loved ones for planning a special outing after your marathon.

Runners get a lot of love from their support crew. No, really you do. Many times our loved ones and friends have to deal with us being sore, hangry, and the ups and downs of training. They have likely heard more about our long runs than we have heard about their work life or virtually anything else because while you have been training, they likely took a backseat to all things running. And now they are in an incredible destination to cheer you on but also cause they wanted to have some fun after the months of having you wake them up as you fumbled for your shoes in the dark. They deserve your gratitude, but it's best to show them a special outing AFTER the run. Once you cross that finish line, you can “escar-go” anywhere they want, but till then, stick with what you know and send yourself to bed early while they explore the destination.

Don’t get so caught up in the stress that you forget to have fun! No truly friends, this is a wonderful way to celebrate your hard work, but remember that in the end, you GET to run this race. You are lucky enough to explore this destination with an organized race that likely shuts the host city down…so take in the sights on race day, high-five a spectator, and soak in all the goodness of that finish line!

Ready for your runcation packing checklist? Download it here >>

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