15 Tips for Running an Out of Town Race

A big benefit of living in Atlanta is that our airport is a major hub, so I can often get direct flights to major cities for very reasonable prices.  One of my favorite things to do is to meet up with my girlfriends for a “racecation”, and in just a couple of weeks, I’ll tackle the Richmond Marathon which will take me back to Virginia.  It’s so much fun to have a weekend away that revolves around running!  However, there are a LOT more logistics to navigate through if you are tackling a race out of town.  I’ve rounded up the lessons I’ve learned below, which will hopefully make your next race-cation a little smoother.

15 tips for running an out of town race or racecation

Try to arrive two nights before your race.  This isn’t always an option because of work or budget, but for very big races (like my goal marathon race) I try to make it happen.  I don’t know about you, but travelling stresses me out! I like getting a solid night’s sleep two days in a row, and the day before the race is very low key.  For the Richmond Marathon, my friend and I are arriving on Thursday night.  We don’t really have many plans for Friday, and I like that! It makes it a lot less stressful.

Start your “to pack” list a couple weeks out. If you’re running the Richmond Marathon in a couple of weeks, start your list now! I keep a running list on the counter and I add things to it as I think of it.  There are a lot of lists on Pinterest and other blogging sites for a good start.

Wear your running shoes for travelling. Why? So you don’t lose them or accidentally leave them at home.  Funny story: I almost forgot my running shoes at home before the Diva’s Half Marathon back in September.  We got all the way to the interstate and I somehow remembered.  I realized it was because I almost always wear them travelling!

Carry on your race day essentials.  Don’t risk a checked bag getting lost.  Even if you check a bag, carry on a small duffel with everything you need for race morning.

Pack your pre-race nutrition or plan ahead where you can get it.  Read ahead for your airline to see what you can bring with you.  You can usually find what you need at a local grocery store, but the more you can bring with you, the easier it will all be once you get there.

Ask for a “quiet zone” hotel room. And one with a tub.  Not all hotels have these, but ask at check in.  Nothing is worse than not being able to sleep because you back up to a busy street.  I also like to ask for a tub so I can take a hot epsom salt bath the night before the race, and an ice bath afterwards!

The perfect travel pack of bath salts for pre-race!

The perfect travel pack of bath salts for pre-race!

Book your hotel early (you can usually cancel it until a couple of weeks before the race) but wait to book your air travel.  I like to secure my hotel early because those usually go fast, but I’ll wait to book my plane ticket just in case something happens.

Utilize friends and family who are not flying to bring other essentials for you.  My friend Christina is driving from Charlotte, so she is bringing me hard boiled eggs and also her foam roller.  Plus a bunch of other stuff I’m sure we won’t need, but like to have to be prepared!

Research restaurants, the best route to the start line, and other race logistics in advance.  I make reservations and write down all the race logistics in advance.  I’ll even sometimes print out a map of the area so I have that when I arrive.  It just makes the weekend so much easier to not be figuring it out on the fly.

Traveling out of town for your next race? Here are 15 tips to get you ready. #runchat Click To Tweet

Bring all your electronics chargers – even if you think you won’t need them.  Got a full Garmin battery? Still bring that charger. You never know when you’ll accidentally leave something running.  Just bring them all.

Compression socks.  This is a must if you’re flying, they feel so good on your feet and lower legs!

Drive the course once you arrive.  This isn’t always possible, but if you have access to a car, try to do this on the day before the race.  It will begin to mentally prepare you for race day.  If you’re running Richmond, note that they have free chartered tours, that I highly recommend!

Get your bib mailed to you, if it’s an option.  You usually have to sign up for this at the time you register, but I almost always pick this option if it’s not local.  You never know when a travel delay will nail you, and having my bib in hand means that if I don’t make it to the expo, the only thing I’m missing out on is extra merchandise.

This year's bib and t-shirt have arrived!

This year’s bib and t-shirt have arrived!

Book a late enough flight home so that you’re not rushed after the race.  This one is hard, but I like to take a later flight home if I have to travel the same day as the race.  Yes, you get home later, but it’s nice to not rush to check out of the hotel.  Plus, then you get to have a celebratory meal before you head home!

Have fun.  Take the time to plan out your race weekend, and then enjoy the efforts of all your hard work! It’s so much fun exploring a new city through running and other activities.

Ready to celebrate!

Ready to celebrate!

What tips would you add to this list? Are you running Richmond in a few weeks? How are you feeling about race day?

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  1. Great tips! Minor recommendation is to create a Word doc of your “to pack” list. That list is almost always the same for every race. Then, you don’t have to rack your brain to remember that list each time!

  2. I never thought about asking for a quiet zone in the hotel – that’s such a great idea, thank you!

    Earlier this year I started a ‘travel list’ and I keep a copy in my suitcase so that I can just check everything off when packing. It makes the process so much easier! I cannot tell you how many times I forgot Body Glide, lol

  3. And don’t forget to bring your entire running drawer! All my marathons have been out of state and no matter the month I bring tights, under armors, shorts, long sleeve shirts, jackets, socks, gloves, t-shirts, and sunglasses, because come race day…there’s no telling what Mother Nature will unleash. Be prepared out of towners – whatever is in your bag on race day is all you can wear!

    PS If you’re like me and wear a heavy duty trash bag in the corrals to stay warm – bring it from home. This way you’re not running from supermarket to supermarket looking for the big bags that everyone is always conveniently out of! 🙂

    Excited for Richmond!!!

    • Oh yes!!! Packing race day attire is so stressful. It’s like hell I’ll just bring it all. Then you have to make decisions on race morning…ugh! I usually bring throwaway clothes instead of a trash bag. Last year we picked them up in Richmond at Goodwill the day before the race!

  4. So exciting!!! I hope you have a blast at your racecation 🙂
    I hope everything goes smoothly and the weather is nice.
    It is so stressful to travel- I hate it myself too!

  5. Jess, thank you for writing this, it was very helpful! I’m traveling from Maine to Richmond for the marathon. My friend and I will be running together and it will be our first time in Virginia. We will be traveling on Thursday and leaving on Sunday. What time do you recommend arriving at the marathon? I’m 5 blocks away from the starting line, which is a huge relief, don’t have to worry about traffic or finding a parking spot 🙂

    • You will have an awesome weekend in Richmond!!! I like to get to the start 45 mins to an hour before. That gives me plenty of time to warm up, use the potty one last time, and hop in the corral. It’s pretty organized, so you could cut it closer if you wanted. I think the marathon starts last.

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