Gear Check, Baggage Check, Bag Check – whatever you want to call it, there’s a pretty good chance your race will have one if it’s not a tiny local race. I’m a pretty spoiled gal when it comes to racing as usually I have someone waiting for me at the finish line with all my things but this year, I’ve had to check my bags for most my races and let me make mistakes for you so you don’t have to.
Okay, so a quick run down for those who don’t know. Baggage check is when before a race, you leave your bags with volunteers who transports it to the finish line for you. Sometimes you’re asked for a donation for a cause, sometimes you’re not. Be nice – these are usually highschool students who’s been up since 4-5AM that are there for their volunteer hours (been there, done that. Free gigantic volunteer tops that I still wear as PJs to this day).
Sometimes races let you check your own bag and those are my favourite! Usually you have a detachable piece on your bib with your bib number on it that you zip tie or pin onto your bag. My least favourites races that provide you with a plastic bag so they can “ensure everything fits into their transport vehicle” and those usually come with a sticker with your bib number that you stick onto the bag. These bags are usually 18″ x 16″ give or take (in my experience). It’s really not that big. Reason I dislike these bags are because 1. they can rip – I had to tape mine together before handing it over because my bag randomly ripped, and 2. you can’t fit everything you want in there – especially when it’s cold you want to bring layers.
Anyways, here’s a list of things that I have packed and recommend packing into your baggage check.
PACK: Loose Layers/Clothes
When I couldn’t get both my jacket, sweatpants, and sweater into my bag, I grabbed a few of my thin but warm winter running gear and packed those instead. If you’re running colder weather, I’d definitely have layers on hand no matter how warm I think I’d be afterwards. Once the adrenaline wears off, you might suddenly really want something warm on! Also, pack slippers! Your feet will be happy to be out of your shoes.
If you’re running a trail race, I’d recommend packing fresh socks. There’s nothing like slipping on fresh clean socks after you’ve ran through mud or anything remotely wet.
PACK: Wet wipes and Heat Packs
I try to pack those singlet packets of wet wipes with me so I can do a quick wipe if needed. Also, similar in size, I pack a disposable heat pack if it’s cold. If it’s cold, I have one pre-race where I keep on me for as long as possible. If you’re like me and have a tight ITB then you’ll know the cold is not going to help. Before the race starts, I run the heat pack on my ITB and calves to make sure they’re warm since big corrals means I’ve probably stood there for more than 10 minutes and my legs are getting stiff from the cold. The one in my bag is used similarly after – a source of heat for when I want to check out the post race festivities.
IF YOU HAVE ROOM PACK: Food
Do you have allergies that prevent you from digging into the post race food? Do you have something specific you want to eat after a race (ie salty pretzels, chips, etc)? If you have room, squeeze it in there because your race might not be able to accommodate you post race.
DON’T PACK: Valuables
I rarely bring my wallet with me to races. Instead I have a pocket in my shorts just big enough to hold a Visa card, my metropass, my ID, and my key. I either leave my phone at home or I hold onto it while I run. Sometimes bags are thrown (if you check your phone, wrap your clothes around it to cushion it!) or bags rip like mine did. Important things could potentially go missing so I rarely pack things of value into my checked bag.
So these are the things that I recommend and don’t recommend packing. What would you add?