When you train for your first half marathon for months and months, it can be a challenge to know what to bring on race day. This is where a running race day checklist comes in very handy!
With all the excitement, fear and nerves, it can be easy to forget to take essential items with you on race day. Writing a checklist is a great way to ensure you prepare all these items in advance and take them with you on race day.
It’s important you have all the items you need to make your race a success. After all, you don’t want any surprises on race day that could affect your mental preparation for the event.
Whether or not you take some of these items in this running race day checklist with you on the day will depend on various things.
The weather, the race distance and the time of year that you run the race, for example, as well as your own preferred items to use during your training, will impact what you take with you in your running race day bag.
What you take to a 5k or 10k race, for instance, may differ from what you take to a half marathon or marathon race.
In this guide we’ll explore:
- What to check before writing your running race day checklist
- What should I do 24 hours before a race?
- What do I need on race day? The ultimate running race day checklist
Let’s jump in!
What to check before writing your running race day checklist
Check how you will receive your race pack
This is one of the most important things to check before writing your running race day checklist.
Depending on the race that you are running, you will either receive your race pack (which contains your race bib) in advance of the race in the post, or you will be required to collect it in advance of the race, or sometimes even on the morning of the race.
Most established race events will post the race pack to you. Make sure you check the fine print when it comes to receiving your race pack, as some event organisers don’t allow you to collect your race pack on the day.
Related: 10 things I wish I’d known before running my first half marathon
Check your start time
Large events with thousands of participants will most likely have staggered start times for race-goers, so check which waive you will be starting in.
The start time is based on your expected finish time, with elite runners starting first and slower runners starting last.
Check whether you can wear headphones during the race
Many races nowadays, especially large events like the Royal Parks Half Marathon, do not allow you to wear headphones during the race for health and safety reasons. So check with your race organiser to see if you can wear them.
Check where you can store your valuables
If you don’t have anyone accompanying you at the race and need to store your valuables, check with the race organiser ahead of time to see where you can store these.
Most large events allow you to store your bag in a locker, and there may be a charge to do this.
Related: Run a half marathon in 12 weeks: The ultimate beginner half marathon training plan
What should I do 24 hours before a race?
Here are some tips ahead of race day and on race day.
Having completed several races over the years from 5k runs to half marathons, I’ve learnt that it’s wise to plan/check these before running your first half marathon:
Plan what you will eat on the morning of the race
Avoid any foods high in fibre as these are harder to digest.
Plan how you will get to the race start line
It’s good to plan how you will get to the race. It’s often the case with large events that the race organisers arrange for public transport to ferry runners from sites to the start line.
There may also be road closures in the town/city where the race is being held, so plan your route in advance as the last thing you want is to get stuck in traffic.
Plan how you will go to the toilet on the morning of the race
This may sound unusual, but you will undoubtedly have race day nerves which will make you want to go to the toilet.
Most events will have portaloos at the start line, but be warned there are often large queues for these.
Plan your pre-race warm up
It’s essential that you warm up before the race. Some events will organise a group warm-up before the race.
Check out my post on how to warm up before a run for more information.
Related: How to run a half marathon in 2 hours or less
What do I need on race day? The ultimate running race day checklist
- Running shoes
- Running socks/compression socks
- Sports bra
- Running shorts
- Running leggings/compression leggings
- Sports drink
- Race bib/number (this will be included in your race pack)
- Timing chip (this will be included in your race pack)
- Safety pins for attaching your race bib/number to your race shirt
- Energy gels
- Breakfast bars (for a pre-race snack)
- Protein bars (for a post-run snack)
- Running watch
- Hair ties
- Lip balm
- Pre- and post-run clothing
- Toilet paper or toilet wipes (for the portaloo)
- Anti-chafing balm
- Throwaway shirt or jumper
- Debit/credit card
- Pre-race instructions
- Booking confirmation for public transport
- Bus/train/car parking ticket
- Portable battery pack
- Mobile phone
- Camera (if you don’t have one on your phone)
- Mobile phone charger