With any destination race comes a lot of question marks. But what happens when you have to pack for bad weather at a destination race?
It’s finally race weekend! On Sunday I’ll be running the Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway, KY. I wasn’t so sure I would be running this race just a couple weeks ago. Heck, I’m still not even sure if I’ll be running the whole thing. We’ll see what happens out on the race course. I sadly missed out on my half marathon last weekend because I was worried about getting stuck out on the course. But Iron Horse is a little different. Not only is Iron Horse a destination race but it’s also two out-and-backs. So if I get stuck and have to walk back, I won’t ever be too far away from the start/finish area.
Like any good runner, I’ve begun weather-stalking. It’s not looking good on Sunday, folks. Low 40s with potential for rain at 8 am (start time) and again at 10 am (finish time). I’m not too excited about either of those prospects, to be honest.
With any destination race comes a lot of question marks. “What do I wear on race day?” “How many outfits should I pack?” “What do I do with my _______ (phone, keys, fuel, etc.)?” Add in a little weather and the question list grows exponentially. Here’s a quick overview of what I do when packing for a destination race with potentially inclement weather (especially a short, one-nighter like this one):
How to Pack for a Destination Race with Bad Weather
1. Check the weather three days out.
I’m not a weather-checking addict like some people I know (ahem, Marine Corps Marathon Club members, I’m looking at you!), but I do like to have at least a general idea of what I’m looking at. The best way of getting an accurate idea of the weather is to have your own personal weather station and read that, but you can always just find a weather report online if needs be. Three days out from departure, I check the weather to have an inkling of what’s going on. This helps me visualize a bit of what I might be packing.
2. Check the weather again one day out.
Since weather changes on a dime in these parts and during this season, I check the weather again the day before I’m leaving. This ensures that I’ll have appropriate options packed for the trip. Case in point: I checked the weather for my NOW trip three days before and it called for 90s and sunshine. I checked again the day before I left and — voila! — the new forecast was a high of 60 and rain!
3. Pack an ‘A’ and ‘B’ outfit.
When it comes to race day outfits, try to imagine all the scenarios. Even if you diligently checked the weather, the forecast can (and will) still change before race day. It’s best to plan an ‘A’ outfit –> this is what I want to wear, and a ‘B’ outfit –> this outfit would be okay if I had to make a last minute switcheroo. Inevitably, I always end up wearing the ‘B’ outfit. Go figure.
4. Bring appropriate after race clothes.
Post race clothing is just as important as the race outfit itself. Because if you’re going to brunch, for example, and you’ve just run in 40? and rain, you probably won’t want to be wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Plan your race outfit for 20? warmer and your post-race outfit for 20? cooler. There’s nothing worse than being in a restaurant with chattering teeth! And don’t forget another pair of shoes and socks if you’re going to be running in rain or puddles.
5. What about accessories?
Make sure you have plans for your accessories in inclement weather races, too. This means plastic bags for phones and keys, a garbage bag to stay dry before the race, and even bags on your feet to keep your shoes dry while waiting around before the race begins.
If it’s just cold and not raining, a throwaway sweatshirt or robe will do. And don’t feel bad about tossing a hoodie or a sweater. The great thing is you’re not really “throwing it away” at most races. There are sweepers who collect all the discarded apparel and donate to charitable organizations and homeless shelters.
If you learn nothing else from this post, learn this: pack options and pack layers! There’s nothing worse than underpacking and not being prepared. Been there, done that.
I hope the weather changes again the next time I check it and there’s no rain in the forecast. I can deal with cool temperatures and I can deal with rain; I prefer not to deal with both at the same time!
What trick(s) do you have up your sleeve for packing for a destination race?
When traveling for a race, do you tend to overpack or underpack?