Captain’s Blog: Packing for the Road

For several years I worked at a running magazine, which meant occasional pilgrimages to big race expos to sell subscriptions. Every trip was highlighted by the same set of questions, no matter the city, race distance, or time of year: “What’s the weather look like?” “Have you seen a recent forecast?” “What should I wear tomorrow?” “What would you wear tomorrow?” Instead of selling magazines, we found ourselves talking people out of wearing brand-new socks or shoes to the starting line. Consumed by pre-race jitters, runners, it seems, have a lot of trouble thinking rationally.

It’s certainly tempting to over-think RTB in the same way. But a relay also provides you with the luxury to prepare for all conditions and to adjust on the fly. Early next week I’ll send my team an email covering a lot of our final planning details, as well as a packing list that will look something like this:

  • If you have a reflective vest, headlamp, and/or flashing lights, pack them. If you don’t, we’ll have extras you can borrow. EVERYONE should have THEIR OWN vest for the duration of the event. Plan to wear it outside of all of your clothing all night.
  • 2 x running shoes (your call if you think you’ll want racing shoes). Good to have an extra in case of rain.
  • 3 x change of racing clothes (shirt, T-shirt/singlet, socks) (Some people like to have a big Zip-Loc bag for each leg’s gear, to keep it organized & dry.)
  • Gloves and warm hat
  • Tights
  • Running pants
  • Running jacket
  • Fleece
  • Long-sleeve microfiber shirt(s)
  • Warm outer layer. It can get very cold at night, especially when you’re sweaty. I’d bring a warm coat, vest, and some nice sweatpants to wear, and plan to wear base layers under that.
  • Water bottle. We’ll have big jugs of water for you refill these with.
  • Also recommended: cell phone charger with car adapter; compression sleeves for lower legs; camera

This represents a delicate balance. You want to be prepared for hot and cold, sun and rain. You want to be comfortable. But you also have to be realistic. There’s no room in the back of the van for your entire set of matching luggage. I try to emphasize to the team that they should pack everything they think they might need—but to limit it to one bag. That might mean making some hard choices, but if you pack smart you should still be ready for anything.

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