If this is the first time you're running a race, no, a water bottle is not all you need. Its best to start packing a few days before the race, as you might be anxious the night before and miss something out. Here's a list of basic things you'll need to bring to make sure your race journey goes well without any embarrassing or painful mishaps.
First off, here are some basic tips: attach ID tags to the items you have prepared to make sure you don't lose them. If the organisers have mailed you your bib and race chip before race day, it would be a good idea to attach them to your singlet and shoes in advance. Now, let's move on to what you'll really need:
Number one pre-race item: anti-chafing product. The one you're most likely to have in your house is Vaseline. If youre an experienced racer, you might have other brands like Body Glide or Skin Lube. This reduces any unnecessary discomfort during or after the race in some of your tight spots and helps prevent blisters, so do remember to apply it before you begin the race.
Nipple Protection Items
Gents, at some point or the other, you may experience nipple chafing, especially if the material of your running shirts are unsuitable for you. That can result in bleeding nipples. As bewildering and darkly humorous it may sound, this condition has been experienced by many a veteran runner. To prevent this, you might want to consider taping those vital parts (if you've shaved) or using trimmed bandages or nipple shields.
Bring along extra safety pins just in case the organisers don't provide them or you lose those assigned to you.
Bring warm-up clothing (jackets, for example) to wear at the start of the race. You can take them off midway when you have sufficiently warmed up.
Race Confirmation Items
Last but not least, don't forget to bring your race confirmation items and other things that are required for registration.
During the Race
Bring your personal medication (painkillers like ibuprofen, for example) if you think you need it.
Don't forget to bring a water bottle for your water or sports drink, whichever you've been training with.
If your race is located in an unfamiliar place, it's best to bring along a route map or GPS.
Also, never forget to bring toilet paper. Just like how public toilets run out of them, so can (and will) the porta-potties that are located along the way. If you think bringing an entire toilet roll is too bulky, you may choose to bring enough for the number of times you expect you'll be going plus a bit more.
After the Race
The sweat-soaked clothing after a race can be uncomfortable, so it's best you bring a change of clothes and a towel to dry off. Include a change of footwear as well, since your socks will be soaked too.
Bring along snacks you usually eat after training. Some events may provide snacks, but they may not be what you are used to eating, so its best to be prepared. Check out our article on excellent post-run food; you may find some nice snacks to bring along for your next race!
Final Tips for Bag Packing
Look up the weather forecast for the day and prepare for it. If it's going to be a sunny day, remember to bring a cap or sunglasses and apply sunscreen. If the air is going to be chilly, you can consider dressing in layers so that you stay warm before the race starts. You can take them off, tie them around your waist or simply toss them away later.
If getting to the location of the race requires taking an air flight, pack everything you need for the race in your carry on and take it with you, in case something happens to your check-in luggage. Most importantly, leave any valuables at home or the hotel. Race bags can get misplaced, so it's better not to keep your valuables in them lest they get lost.
"...no, a water bottle is not all you need."
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