A blog by runners. For runners.

How to pack when flying to a race

how-to-pack-when-flying-to-a-raceA few years ago, I flew to Florida to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. I checked the race day weather forecast before packing, and thought I was being smart when I tossed my race day outfit in my carryon bag. I packed the rest of my running clothes options in my checked suitcase. Unfortunately, as soon as I arrived at the airport, my flight was canceled. Thankfully, the ticketing agent worked her magic and booked me on another airline. I made it to Orlando with time to spare before the race; however my checked bag did not. It was no big deal, right? My race day gear was with me safely in my carryon. Except the race day weather forecast drastically changed – the temperature plummeted by 30 degrees – and the clothes I had in my carryon were no longer appropriate. I packed warmer clothes just in case, but they were in my suitcase – which was still flying the friendly skies. Let’s just say I didn’t have the best race experience –thinking about that day still makes me shiver. But I definitely learned from my mistake. Here’s how I pack when flying to a race now:

  1. Don’t bother checking the weather forecast. I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out. Rather than obsessing over the forecast, just pack clothing for every weather condition – heat, cold, rain, and wind. That way, you’ll be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
  2. Bring an extra pair of shoes. Several popular large races now offer challenges that entail racing on multiple days. If you’re participating in one of these events, pack an extra pair of shoes. This way, if it downpours the day of your first race, you’ll have a dry pair of shoes to wear for the second race.
  3. Pack all race day outfits in big, re-sealable, plastic bags. Lay out each potential race outfit – hat or headband, sports bra, top(s), arm sleeves, bottom(s), calf sleeves, and socks – and pack each outfit in its own large, plastic bag (don’t forget to do this with your throwaway layer, too). Also, pack all of your accessories and fuel in their own plastic bag – chafing balm, sunscreen, watch, sunglasses, fuel belt, phone armband, gels, and chomps.
  4. Put everything in your carryon. Place all of these plastic bags in your carryon with your shoes. If possible, don’t even check a bag.
  5. Make a list and check it thrice. Write out your race day packing list days before you start packing and look over it. Check it again when you’re packing and glance at it another time after you’re done packing. It would be really unfortunate if you left your shoes at home!
  6. Run with valuables, including your phone, ID, and cash or credit cards. Once you cross the finish line, you need to make sure you’re able to board the flight to return home. Rather than risk losing your valuables at bag check, run with your phone, ID, and cash or credit cards securely on you.

Chime in with your best packing tips for flying to a race!

Written by Jen Matz.

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