“What should I pack for race day?” I’ve seen this question asked a million times by curious women as they anxiously consider how to prepare for their upcoming race. Some meticulously over pack, while others don’t realize until after passing over the starting line how much more they should have brought along. In order to ease the minds of the many women who find themselves aimlessly staring at their closet in hopeless confusion, here’s an easy go-to list that will help even the most novice racer show up to her race with every essential in tow, thus creating an ideal environment to aid in making race day a success from beginning to end.
1 – Sunscreen: Completing an obstacle race will typically consume several hours of your day, not to mention the additional time you’ll want to spend hanging out in the festival area celebrating your accomplishment afterwards. This means your skin will get plenty of sun exposure! Be sure to pack a sport SPF (as well as face lotion and chap stick with SPF) to apply generously before your wave is sent across that starting line.
2 – Extra Hair Tie: Long hair can get extremely tangled in the mud and dirt, and a broken hair tie could make an already hairy situation even worse. Trust me from experience, it helps to have an extra hair tie along just in case the one you arrive in gets lost in the mud! I also highly recommend wearing your hair in a braid instead of ponytail to reduce the post-race knots that can be nearly impossible to comb through.
3 – Flip Flops: Once you cross that finish line, your feet will be screaming for some fresh air! Make sure to toss a cheap pair of flip flops or sandals in your bag to throw on for the post-race celebration and drive home.
4 – Deodorant: While you may not realize it mid-race when in the thick of tackling wicked terrain and overcoming challenging obstacles, the lovely mixture of mud and sweat will create a unique and rather pungent post-race perfume. A travel size deodorant will help tame the tang, so you can focus on celebrating instead of obsessing over any sort of feminine-funk.
5 – Plastic Bags: Everyone has a stash of plastic grocery bags somewhere in their house. Be sure to pack a few to stash your dirty shoes, socks, sports bra, shorts, and any other dirty apparel that you don’t necessarily want touching the interior of your car.
6 – Sunglasses: Although not a practical accessory for during the race, you’ll definitely want to throw on a pair once you’ve crossed the finish line and collected your hard earned medal. This is one of the easiest items to forget, since many times you’ll need to leave home before the sun rises to get to the race venue on time.
7 – Wallet & Cash: You’ll need your ID and cash for packet pickup, parking, food, and merchandise. While your brain is whirling about everything from what to wear, to what to eat, to the last minute stress over if you’re truly ready to take on your race (stop worrying so much, you are!), your wallet may end up in the back of your mind as you consider all of the other items that you need to bring. I’ve seen it happen at every race, and have even realized it myself while driving out of my neighborhood with my wallet tucked comfortably in my purse back at home, they do get forgotten! I recommend you pack this first, since no wallet equals no race!
8 – Change of Clothes: Although this may seem like a no-brainer, there are a couple of items that I recommend as the top needs for post-race comfort. To begin with you’ll want to bring a pair of comfortable shorts or pants (yoga pants work great!). Of course the post-race hose off doesn’t always completely take care of the dirt, but a fresh pair of comfortable pants will, at minimum, take away the issue of crunchy running pants from dried on mud (quite uncomfortable for a drive home!). Another accessory you may appreciate is a fresh sports bra. A dirty, soggy post-race sports bra can end up getting itchy and uncomfortable, so bringing a clean bra to throw on under your race shirt will help keep your skin dry and itch-free.
9 – Hydration: Most events will offer water stations throughout the course, as well as water and a protein or sports drink at the finish line. While this is great, you may still want to bring your own source of hydration for before and after the race, and possibly even for during the race as well! Water or sports drinks are great to bring along to make sure you are properly hydrated before you approach the starting line, and post-race you may find that you need more than what’s provided to properly re-hydrate your body from the nutrients that you’ve lost while racing. Depending on the length of the event, you may also want to invest in a hydration pack to carry through the race. Dehydration can greatly affect your ability to complete your race comfortably and confidently, so be sure that you drink lots of water on race day as well as over the week prior to your event.
10 – Nutrition: Not only is hydration a key component to effective racing, but nutrition plays a huge roll in your ability to complete your race without bonking. Everyone is very different when it comes to what works pre-race as a quality meal (ideally something that won’t sit in your stomach like a rock!). Use the weeks prior to your event to find what works best for you, and stick with that the morning of. For pre and post-race, be sure to pack healthy snacks to replenish your depleted energy stores. I find that snacks which contain a combination of protein and carbs make a huge difference in helping maintain energy once you’ve finished racing.
I hope this list helps you be able to more effectively plan how to pack for your big race! But now that I’ve told you the items that you’ll want to make sure you bring with you on race day, there are two things that I recommend you leave at home.
1 – Jewelry: As much as you may hate taking off your favorite ring, bracelet, or necklace, it’s a good rule of thumb to leave anything shiny safely at home. Don’t risk losing your bling in the mud, or damaging a precious stone on an obstacle, it’s just not worth the potential stress should your treasure go missing. Married or engaged? For those who feel uncomfortable going completely without their rings, there are some great companies who sell inexpensive rubber wedding bands (check out saferingz.com) that are perfect for race day! (I rock a hot pink rubber wedding band to all of my events, and I love it!)
2 – Makeup: I know that some women feel uncomfortable foregoing the security blanket of wearing makeup while in public, but I’m here to encourage you to embrace your natural beauty and rock your fresh face at your race! Why? No makeup also means no mascara running down your face, no foundation smudging, and no melting makeup mixing in with the sweat and mud that you will inevitably be wearing instead. You are beautiful without it, so leave the makeup at home and rock the glorious glow that water, mud, and fresh air will provide instead!
So there you have it! Your go-to list of the essentials you’ll want for your next Spartan Race! Now instead of stressing over what to pack, you can focus on your training and arrive on race day ready to take on the course with confidence.
I can’t wait to see you there! AROO!
Holly Joy Berkey