The ultimate running race day checklist: What to bring to your first half marathon race

  • Post last modified:December 2, 2021
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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 checklist with you on race day will depend on things like the weather and the time of year that you run the race, as well as your own preferred items to use during your training. 

In this article we’ll explore:

  • What to check before writing your running race day checklist
  • The ultimate running race day checklist
  • Tips and advice for race day

Here is the ultimate running race day checklist for your first half marathon race. 

Related: 10 things I wish I’d known before running my first half marathon

running race day checklist

The ultimate running race day checklist: What to bring to your first half marathon race

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 half marathon 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 half marathon events like the Cambridge Half Marathon or Royal Parks Half Marathon 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.

Check your route 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. 

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, 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

running race day checklist

The ultimate running race day checklist

  • Running shoes
  • Running socks/compression socks
  • Sports bra
  • Running shorts
  • Running leggings/compression leggings
  • Water
  • 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)
  • Banana 
  • Running watch
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Headband
  • Hair ties
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip balm
  • Pre- and post-run clothing
  • Towel
  • Toilet paper or toilet wipes (for the portaloo)
  • Anti-chafing balm
  • Plasters
  • Gloves
  • Throwaway shirt or jumper
  • Money
  • Debit/credit card
  • ID
  • 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

Related: Everything you need to know about the Cambridge Half Marathon

running race day checklist

Tips and advice for race day

Now that you have seen my ultimate running race day checklist, here are some tips for race day. Having completed several half marathons over the years, 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. Check out my post on what to eat before a run for more information.
  • 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 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

running race day checklist

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Caroline Geoghegan

Caroline Geoghegan (aka Run With Caroline) helps people become faster and stronger runners. She started her blog in 2018 to share her passion for running. Caroline is a UK Athletics qualified Run Leader and Run Coach and NASM qualified Personal Trainer.

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