What’s in your marathon kit bag?

With the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon just a week away my attention turns from training to kit.  After my race rehearsal last week I’ve been checking I have everything I need for race day.

Anyone who knows me knows I like to have a plan.  My friends rib me about having “organised fun”.  Strangely, I was never a boy scout but I like to be prepared.

Prior proper planning prevents piss poor performance...
I don’t like leaving anything to chance

Having successfully tested my race morning time line (as best I can from home) and my race morning breakfast, it is time to start preparing all the kit I’ll need.  Doing it now means I’ve still got chance to find or buy the missing bits.

Before you take a look at my photo it’s worth noting that I don’t expect to need, or use, everything in it – some of the items are there just in case.  I’ll take you through the contents and I’m sure you’ll see things that match your own kit bag.  You might even see something that you’ll add.  Hopefully I’ve not forgotten anything but do let me know if there’s something you include that’s not there!

What a lot of kit! It won't all be used but you never know.
What a lot of kit! It won’t all be used but you never know.

So let’s take a closer look:

Marathon Kit Bag Numbered 1

1. Shorts: my favourite pair of shorts, from adidas, with pockets for carrying my gels (10), without mesh or inner pants – I’m fussy when it comes to shorts!

2. Woolly hat: not likely to be required but who knows what the British weather will do – I might need to keep my head warm on the way to the start.

3. A tenner: always good to have a bit of cash stashed for any unexpected circumstances.

4. Trainers: my faithful Asics Kayanos that have seen me through my longest runs and have been rested for shorter and faster sessions.

5. Charity shirt: my usual club shirt hits the sub’s bench to make way for me to promote African Children’s Fund, the charity that gave me the opportunity to run the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon.  I got my name and Twitter handle printed on my shirt thanks to great service and great value from Xempo – having people shout your name can really keep you going.

PS. I’m still hunting my fundraising target – you can help by sponsoring me here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/runningdanw

6. Watch: I love my adidas miCoach watch and have customised the display to hide my pace (GPS isn’t as reliable as mile markers on race day) and just show me my heart rate and elapsed time since I crossed the start line (not from the gun).

7. Lip balm: I can often get dry lips and that makes me more thirsty so I apply some lip balm to keep my lips fresh.  As a lover of all chocolate, I’m currently using Hershey’s flavour!

8. Old gloves: another item that might not get a look in on race day, but if it’s cold these old Ronhill gloves will keep my hands warm in the start area.  Using old gloves means I can discard them at the last minute, if it’s really cold on race morning.

9. Old phone: I’ll swap my sim card into this old handset so I can tweet my last minute movements and messages to my #extramile personal timeline (you can get your personal London Marathon timeline for free here) and then stash in my bag before dropping it on the baggage truck.  It also means I’ve got a phone if the post-race meeting up doesn’t go to plan.

10. Gels: You’re a very lucky person if you can run a marathon without taking on board any carbs.  I like having different flavours to keep it interesting.  My gels of choice are from TORQ: apple crumble, raspberry ripple and strawberry yoghurt should see me to the finish.

11. Pace bands: I’m not using my GPS watch for pace (6) instead opting to use the good old fashioned stopwatch mode and two pace bands – one for a 3:45 finish time (my ideal target), and one for a 3:59 (my back up target).  You can print pace bands for any time in a number of places but I got my pace bands from MarathonGuide.com

12. Salty snack: After the race I don’t know exactly what I’ll want to eat but there’s a big chance I’ll need a salty boost so a packet of ready salted Squares are my salty snack of choice!

13. Sunglasses: I’d be happy not to need these on race day but if it is sunny my trusty old Oakleys will allow my face to relax.  It might sounds silly but it’s important to relax from the eyebrows down.

14. Sweet snack: As well as the salty snack (12) I like to have something sweet after a race.  My snack of choice is any of the number of tasty flavours of nakd bars.  The Cocoa Crunch has made it to the bag for London.

15. Marathon News: An essential for race weekend, containing all the information you need to get to the start and out of the finish.

16. Registration form: AN ABSOLUTE MUST – without this you can’t get your number from the Expo.  No number, no race, no exceptions.

Marathon Kit Bag Numbered 217. Long sleeve top: Serving two purposes, my ballot rejection top will keep me warm on the way to the start before travelling on the baggage truck to rejoin me at the Mall to keep me warm after the finish.

18. Wet wipes: You might be lucky to live close to the finish, or perhaps have a hotel room to go back to after the race but if you don’t, a pack of wet wipes can help get freshened up.  Mine are from the Secret Training race day personal care kit that I’ve been testing.

19. Lubrication: I don’t tend to have problems with chafing but I don’t tend to run 26.2 miles so it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.  There’s some in the Secret Training care kit but I’m using Body Glide for my thighs and nipples.

20. Spare pants and socks: It’s no good freshening up if you’re still in sweaty unmentionables so drop a spare set in your bag.

21. Flip flops: As comfortable as the Kayanos (4) and Ashmei socks (23) are, after 26.2 miles cooped up my feet will appreciate some fresh air and flip flops allow that, whilst also enabling me to hobble off into the sunset.

22. Safety pins: You only have to rattle a regular runner to find some safety pins but sods law states that when you don’t make sure you’ve got a set for your bib you won’t be able to find any.  Mine live in this little tin, part of the Secret Training race day kit.

23. Socks: The layer that connects you to your trainers is key to a comfortable race.  My sock of choice is from the guys at Ashmei and are a mix of merino wool and carbon that wicks away sweat to stop those unwanted blisters.

24. Pants: My running pants would be a disgrace in any other situation but they’ve served my running well.  You might prefer built-in pants in your shorts but I’m happy with my holey cotton briefs!

25. Old baseball cap: Over the last few years my hair has started to desert me so if it’s looking like a very sunny race I might consider running in my cap.  Alternatively, I often run in my cap when it’s raining heavily to keep the rain out of my eyes.  An advantage of using an old cap is that if it’s starting to be a burden I can just throw it to the side of the road.

26. Cloth or towel: Partnering with the wet wipes (18), a flannel, cloth or small towel can help freshen you up after the race.  I’m using a micro fibre cloth from the Secret Training race day kit.

27. Water bottle: I’m packing two bottles of water, enhanced with nuun electrolyte tabs (31) – one to drink on the way to the start and one in the bag for after the race.

28. Trousers: Or as my wife likes to call them, “running legs”!  Like my long sleeve top (17), my Ronhill lightweight trousers will keep me warm on the way to the start and give me an extra layer after the race.

29. Buff: This is a versatile little accessory, the running buff (or snood or neck tube if you prefer) can be worn to keep your neck warm if it’s cold or act as a bandanna if it’s looking sunny.  I won mine from The Running Bug, the site I guest blog for, but you can get them in all good running shops.  Like much of my kit, this may or may not get a start on race day.  We’ll see!

30. Tights or leggings: Another item that doesn’t look like being called into action, but if it’s really cold on race day morning my Ronhill Tracksters (handed down from my dad) will keep in more warmth than my “running legs” (28).

31. Hydration tabs: Water alone is not enough; effective hydration also needs electrolytes.  I don’t like sports drinks, instead preferring to get my carbs from gels (10) and while they include some electrolytes themselves I supplement my pre- and post-race water with nuun hydration tabs.

32. Old jumper: Once you’ve said goodbye to your kit at the baggage truck you’ll still need to keep warm so an old jumper will do the job and can then be thrown to the roadside as the race starts.  A bin bag can do the same job – I might well take one if it’s looking like rain, to keep as dry as possible.

Other items that didn’t make it into the photo:

33. Sunscreen: I don’t normally run in sunscreen but I’m not usually running for 4 hours in the hottest part of the day.  I might not need it but given the recent weather I’ve taken Twitter recommendations and bought some P20 factor 50.

34. Race day breakfast: If you’re staying in a hotel and don’t know for sure what’s available at breakfast be sure to take your own.  My tested breakfast is a cinnamon & raisin bagel and a banana.

Do you agree with my kit choices?  Have I missed anything?  Have I gone over-the-top with my preparation?  What does your kit bag look like?  Have you seen something you wouldn’t have thought of?  Get in touch with your kit choices.


3 thoughts on “What’s in your marathon kit bag?”

  1. Geez, you made me think I should have a plan for race-day, especially post-race. I never actually thought about how I would have to make it to my dorm back after the race… and may not want to stink up the public transportation…
    I guess I know what I’m doing this week, then.
    You are so prepared! It’s awesome. 🙂
    Also, sunglasses theory is true. It’s super important to have your eyes shielded on a sunny day, because the barely noticeable exertion of squinting gets old after 20 miles.

  2. Good luck Dan carrying that lot round. Blimey, are you planning to tow a suitcase?

    Seriously though, it is good that you’re well prepared and that you have done everything in your power to ensure you complete your first(?) marathon.

    Good luck and we’ll be cheering you on.

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