Tomorrow morning, I’m flying to California for my second Ragnar Relay. I don’t think it hit me until I started writing this post that I’ll be running 200 miles with Team Nuun along the Pacific Ocean this weekend. It can be difficult to pack for a race where you’ll spend 24 hours alternating between running and hanging out in a van (plus not showering), so I decided to share my packing tips.
Let’s back up a second for those who are new to Ragnars. They’re a series of overnight, 200-mile relay races that you run as a team of 12 (or 6 for an ultra). One runner races at a time. The other runners follow along in two vans. Everyone races 3 legs of the relay (or 6 for the ultra). Ragnar Southern Califonia begins in Los Angeles and ends in San Diego. Because there are so many speedy runners on Team Nuun, I was assigned the shortest total distance of the bunch. I’ll be in Van 1 as Runner 2, covering 10.2 miles total. This leaves plenty of time for cheering, bonding, and capturing the experience. These photos were taken during past So Cal Relays. Gorgeous views! Click here to read about my first Ragnar Relay experience in New Hampshire with New Balance. And here to watch a video of it.
Now do you see why packing for a Ragnar is so difficult? I’ll be flying in tomorrow, racing Friday-Saturday, and flying back on Sunday. It’s short trip that requires a lot of clothing and gear. I plan to pack one carry on roller suitcase (to leave at the hotel during the race) and one running backpack (to bring on the van during the race). Here’s what will be inside:
Running Gear — If you’re racing as a team of 12, you’ll be running three legs in a 24-hour period. You should do your best, based on the course map and the team’s pace, to figure out what the weather will be like when you’re running. I should be running around 1pm, 11pm, and 6am the following morning. I’m planning to pack shorts and a tank for each leg, plus extra crops and a jacket to layer. The key is to pack each individual running outfit in a gallon-size ziplock bag, including socks, underwear, and hairties. It helps save space in your backpack and keeps sweaty gear from making the van smell. You can even throw a dryer sheet into each bag to keep your gear fresh. I also recommend bringing two pairs of running shoes to switch off. Finally, check the race requirements for night running gear. I’m packing a reflective vest and a Fitletic Vivid Headlamp.
Extra Clothes — I’ll be packing two traveling outfits for the flight there and back. In addition to running gear, you’ll need to pack extra clothes in your backpack. It’s best to take layering pieces that can be put on over gear and as weather changes. I’ll be taking a fresh t-shirt, sweatshirt, and pair of sweatpants. Remember that you’ll also be trying to sleep in these clothes.
Toiletries — It’s true. You probably won’t be showering during the race. It feels gross after your first run, but you get used to it. To help clean up between runs, I recommend bringing body wipes, deodorant, and your toothbrush. If you wear contacts, you should also bring solution and a pair of glasses. I took out my contacts while trying to sleep. Forget makeup. Don’t forget sunscreen!
Food & Fuel — I recommend making a master list of food with your team. When I ran Reach the Beach, we packed way too much and had to get rid of it. Pack a variety of snacks and drinks that will be easy on your stomach between runs. I’m sure our vans will have plenty of Nuun! Also make sure to bring any gels that you use to fuel. You can stop the van to eat full meals at restaurants.
Other — There are two important areas that I didn’t cover above–recovery and technology. For recovery, bring a stick or mini foam roller to use in the van. Also bring a sleeping bag or blanket and pillow to use while trying to sleep. I keep saying “try” here because it’s difficult to sleep in a van and on this race schedule. It’s also best to bring a camera, cell phone charger, GPS watch, and headphones. I may bring my GoPro, too. Finally, don’t forget car chalk to decorate your van!
If you’ve run a Ragnar, I’d love for you to chime in with some of your race essentials. Otherwise, follow along on Instagram, where I’ll be documenting the experience!
Photos via Ragnar Relay