Packing for a Destination Race


I love destination races, but they take a little extra planning.  The weather can change leading up to race day, so it’s best to pack race options for rain, cold, heat (I sound like the mailman), etc…

Most importantly remember NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY! 


Race Day Outfit: If you are flying, it is a good idea to pack your race outfit in your carry-on bag.

  • Visor or hat
  • Shorts or tights
  • shirt or singlet
  • Socks
  • Race shoes
  • Throw away jacket (zip-up preferred)
  • Gloves
  • Earbuds
  • Handheld water bottle or fuel belt
  • Bib belt or safety pins
  • Hair clips. Rubber bands
  • Sports bra
  • Sunglasses
  • Armband for your ipod or iphone
  • ziplock bag for your phone or key if it’s raining (plastic bags always come in handy!)


Technology:  Don’t forget your chargers!!

  • Laptop and charger
  • Phone and charger
  • Garmin and charger


  • Sunscreen!!!
  • Makeup
  • Bodyglide
  • Deodorant, face wash, body wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc…
  • Medication and vitamins

Nutrition:  These are my race fuel choices.

  • Gu
  • Picky Bars
  • Cocogo Code: JENCHOOSESJOY (all caps) for 10% off
  • Do you usually drink coffee before a race?  Make sure you have a coffee maker in your room.  Often, race hotels will serve coffee at ungodly hours to runners before a race.  Have a plan.  Coffee is important.
  • Race Day Breakfast:  You’ve practiced your long run breakfast for months. Do your best to recreate it in your hotel room. I take banana bread. Instant oatmeal is also easy to make in your room if you have a coffee maker.





  • Id
  • Hotel confirmation
  • Flight info
  • Race confirmation numbers.  A lot of races mail you a passport for the expo.
  • Race bibs if they were mailed to you.  Boston mailed us our 5K bibs.


Reservations:  I know you don’t pack reservations, but it’s an important part of planning your trip.

  • Are you attending the race pasta dinner or do you need reservations at a local restaurant?  Remember that Italian restaurant reservations fill up quickly on race weekend.
  • Shakeout Runs.  Runner’s World and other running brands will host shake-out runs at large races.  They often ask you to rsvp via Facebook invitation.

This was a Runner’s World shakeout run in Chicago with Deena Kastor and Bart Yasso!


What have I forgotten?

Do you like destination races? Where is your favorite destination race?

Do you participate in the pasta dinner and shake-out runs before the race?

Are you big planner or do you just go with the flow when you’re travelling?  The more I plan, the less stress I have on race day.


Join the Conversation

  • http://www.sarahruns26.com Sarah @ SarahRuns26

    My husband and I are kind of go with the flow to a fault when we’re traveling. We usually have a few things that we really want to do, some things that we’d like to do and some things we’ll do if we have time. Usually the must do things are places to eat! :)

    I ALWAYS take a big trash bag. Especially at races when it can/will be cold in the morning. It gives you something dry to sit on when you’re waiting for the start (like Boston or NYC) and if its cold/rainy/windy, its an added layer of protection to wear until the race starts! Plus it takes up no room in my bag to pack.

    I think my favorite destination races are Boston, Seattle and Eugene, OR. I would go back to any of those in a heartbeat!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I’ve definitely worn a trash bag poncho to stay dry before a race! I’ve never been to the NW and I must change that soon!!!

  • Cox Teresa

    Like you, I prefer to plan in advance, particularly drop bags. Funny, because I thought I was weird for always carrying my homemade granola and yogurt to eat on race morning. If possible, we try to stay somewhere where I can cook dinner the night before, eating the same meal every time! I know nothing new on race day but I am SO tempted to try my new Oiselle tank for my 50k this weekend!! Enjoy Boston!!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      The more I plan, the less I stress. Have a great race!!!!!

  • http://motherhoodandmarathons.wordpress.com [email protected]

    Great tips! I’m not a huge planner, which means a lot of last minute packing and rushing. I’ve only run two out of state races. Last year I did the Nike women’s half in San Francisco and I forgot to pack my make-up! I had to buy replacements for everything :(
    I hope to do more races out of state and will try to be more organized so that I don’t forget something again!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      My husbands plan is: if I forget it, I can buy it! Also, I really want to run the Nike SF half!!

  • Ruth C.

    Not something to pack but one lesson I learned was to pick a place to meet up after the 26.2.
    I made the mistake of not doing that once. After the race I spent 30 minutes trying to find my husband. Not what any of us want to do after running a marathon! My tip is to check out the finish line the day before and agree on a meeting place in advance!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      YES!!! That is such an important tip. My brain and body don’t work after a marathon, so a meet-up point is a must!

  • http://gretchruns.com Gretchen | Gretchruns

    Glad to see someone else wears all-black for races! It seems like everyone is into super bright colors. I feel like a bada** when I wear all black and it makes me run faster (in my mind at least). hope you have a great flight and an even greater race!!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Yes!!! I’m the furthest thing from a badass, but I put on some hip hop, wear all black and I feel like I’m tough enough to run the race!!

  • http://www.runningnreading.com Running ‘N’ Reading

    Oh, gosh…I’m a HUGE planner (more like an OCD planner), so I make lists when I go on any trip and ESPECIALLY a running trip – GAH! This is a great list of items, Jen; I’m going to have to save this one. When are you headed to Boston?!? I’m so excited for you!!! You and Jason will have a BLAST!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I leave Friday morning…so exciting!!!

      • http://www.runningnreading.com Running ‘N’ Reading

        EEEEEEK!! 😉

  • The absolute musts are body glide, and imodium! I get GI issues if I’m running over 8 miles.

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Imodium is smart!! So many runners have GI issues.

  • http://crazyrunnerblog.wordpress.com joannaraines

    I triple check I have my headphones and belt….
    Music is a MUST! Also bring some icy hot or biofreeze for aches and pains. And some flip flops to wear post race because my feet always swell

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Putting on flip flops after a race is one of life’s great joys!!!

  • http://www.minutespermile.com mary @ minutes per mile

    on the subject of race day breakfasts: i’ve been known to purchase and pack a bagel BEFORE arriving to the destination; for big races, sometimes the local grocery stores near the race location are SOLD OUT! it’s madness. also, i’m very particular about coffee on race day morning and will go out the night before the race to buy a small carton of half and half — i hate those corn syrupy/dried “creamers” they keep in hotel rooms. keep the half and half cool in the ice container and enjoy!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      You’ve got a great system!! Thanks for the advice! ?

  • http://eathostrunstyle.blogspot.com Sun

    I’m doing my first destination race later this year and couldn’t be more excited! I’ll definitely use your tips for packing. The furthest I’ve traveled to run before is Chicago and that doesn’t really count since Milwaukee is just a hop, skip and a jump away :)

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      It’s so much fun to travel for a race!!

  • Rachel

    Tampons and Kleenex!- I’ve learned this the hard way.

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Yes!!! Great reminder!

  • http://gravatar.com/amahoney81 AmandaM

    Hi Jen – you have a great low number!! How did you get an invitation to Boston? Was it through Fleet Feet?

    I am a huge planner in other aspects of my life BUT my favorite way to travel is to not have a personal plan and go with a friend/group that has a very detailed plan. I am very happy going on an adventure with little or no knowledge of the area as long as I know my guides have a strategy. If that makes any sense :)
    The farthest I’ve traveled for a race was to Quebec from Boston for a Half Marathon. It was super fun b/c I went with two friends and their families and one of them grew up in Quebec and was our tour guide!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I was invited by the baa. I met a member last year and he extended the invitation. :) I’ve never been to Canada, but hopefully I’ll visit in the next couple of years!

  • http://leerunsdistances.wordpress.com FLRunnerBoy

    I like the idea of destination races but have only done so once and I never take part in the pasta dinners. I am pre-race light eater … fish, salad, and pasta on the side. I am also a big planner.

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I have to be careful not to overeat at the pasta dinner! I think I get excited for all of the race festivities and get carried away.

  • http://montrealrunnermom.wordpress.com jenniferflorence07

    OMG I’m so excited for you!! This post makes me feel like I’m joining you there! hahaha!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thanks so much!!!!

  • http://www.theathletarian.com Christina @ the athletarian

    I think you remembered everything!! I am a huge planner and make all kinds of lists before a destination race. I even start packing weeks before so that if I think of anything along the way, I can add it to my suitcase.

    I’ve never participated in any shake out runs or pasta dinners but they look like such a good time!

    You’re going to have a blast in Boston!!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      My house has piles and stacks all over the place! I just keep adding items as I think about them.

  • thisrunnersrecipes

    I’m definitely a big planner – I even bring my own food to eat for the night before and the morning of the race. I always need to pack allergy medicine just so new allergens somewhere don’t make me feel sick for race morning.
    Good luck at Boston!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thanks so much!!!

  • http://www.sweatyandfit.com Beverley Cheng

    I’m loving all the visuals provided! I find it hard to pack for a vacation on a beach, let alone a destination run. This is a perfect guide for those who needs help aka ME!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I’m so glad it’s helpful!!! ?

  • http://www.sweatyandfit.com sweatyandfit

    I’m loving all the visuals provided! I find it hard to pack for a vacation on a beach, let alone a destination run. This is a perfect guide for those who needs help aka ME!

  • http://runaroundaroo.com Heidi Nicole

    If I might need layers on race day [leggings, jacket, etc] I just wear them to the airport…gives me more space to pack everything in a carry on bag! I hate waiting for checked luggage…

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      That’s impressive! I pack way too much and have to check my bag.

  • Caitlin

    Just a note on recovery: The TSA will definitely take away “The Stick” if you attempt to bring it through security. This happened to a friend and he bought a $2 rolling pin and it worked great.

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thanks for the heads up. I never thought of the stick as a weapon!

  • http://flyingfeetinfaith.wordpress.com [email protected] Feet In Faith

    I’m a HUGE planner and your post looks almost identical to my Nashville packing list!!! So close to go time!! And yes ma’am, coffee is SO important 😉

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I’m so excited for you!!! You’re going to have a great CMM!

  • http://trevorellestad.wordpress.com trevorellestad

    Recovery Accelerator = Total GAME CHANGER!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I totally agree!!