Golden rule to preparing for the racing day is to set out all those essential items the night before, because as Benjamin Franklin said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”. Chances are, that very morning your mind is going to be racing through hundreds of different problems which will include logistics, communication, waiver printing, sorting out what to wear, what to bring etc. – the list continues and is truly overwhelming.
There are quite a few items which are simply crucial to take care of beforehand; failing to plan on bringing these would result in an unpleasant experience. These items will give you an edge and a piece of mind, so you don’t have to deal with a lack of grit when you nipples start to chafe mid-race. The race will already feature plenty of obstacles without you needing to add to them, making it harder for yourself. Thus here’s the 10 essentials to bring on obstacle race day:
1. Water – the more the better
Staying hydrated before, during and after a race is a key and the single most important element for you to perform to the maximum. Although most races will have water stations throughout the course, they will be sparsely located at every mile or so. So we would recommend bringing at least a galon of water in separate bottles. You might ask why separate? You might need to have one drinking supply and another purely for washing and cleaning after the race.
2. Snacks, energy food, post-race nutrition boost
Prior a race, popular option is to pack energy gels, protein bars, seed and nut mixes. All of which are good choices, however we would recommend eating snacks and food which you would normally eat during your training and preparation. Your stomach is already used to the food you usually consume. So imagine eating something with lactose before your race, when you didn’t consume dairy whilst training and finding out during the race that you are in fact lactose intolerant. You would at least get stomach cramps and your performance would undoubtedly suffer as result. Let’s not even go into the worst scenario.
In short if you are used to eating a banana before your workout, do exactly that – eat a banana before the race.
During a race, depending on its length, you might need to supplement some carbohydrate or any other energy based food source. General rule is that for around 1hour you burn up to 300Kcal. This amount is naturally lower for light endurance activity and higher for such activities as obstacle racing, which involve a lot of physical strength expenditure.
After a race, treat yourself to a nice big and macronutrient balanced (protein, slow gi carbs and good unprocessed fats) meal. Coconut water works wonders for a quick rehydration and also supplies your body with essential electrolytes.
3. A couple of trash bags, at least
These are not only for cleaning up your campsite or carpark place after the race, but also to contain all the muddy and damp clothing. Trust us, every single one of your post-race items will be too messy for a bag, car or to keep it in your hands. Our suggestion would be to double up on trash bags and put one inside the other to make it as water tight as possible, otherwise those bad boys will certainly leak and create a massive mess.
4. Proper Gear: No cotton clothing and as little as possible
The more clothing you will carry the more it’s going to absorb mud and water, which will slow you down. General practice for men is to simply wear shorts and shoes; sports bras with shorts or yoga pants for women. Just remember the no cotton rule, because cotton usually dries super slow and causes massive chaffing in the areas you would never want this to happen. Synthetic, lightweight and quick drying trail running equipment is the best choice for races. Same applies to shoes. There are many brands out there producing special, water-draining shoes which are incredibly durable and serve well in a muddy race. For more tips on choosing your gear check out our gear section.
5. Anti-chafing cream
…the best friend for all the triathletes and long distance runners out there. After your body and clothes get wet and dirty, things will start to chafe and in areas you wouldn’t want it to: crotch area, nipples (if wearing a base layer), ankles etc. Be sure to add it generously and pick a kind which would be water resistant.
6. A set of clean clothing
Be sure to pack a full set of clothing: socks, underwear and the outer layers. Preferably warm and easy to get in to, because after the race you might be chaffed and bruised. Your feet might also be swollen and you’ll feel a bit chilly, because of the water and mud from the race evaporating and cooling your body down drastically.
7. A Towel
Pick something you can wrap your upper body in if it gets too cold and which absorbs moisture as quickly as possible.
8. Zip lock baggies
Generally it is not recommended to bring anything which is not water resistant, but if you are planning to pack your GoPro batteries, mobile phone, keys or anything which should not get wet bring some of these badboys. Choose thicker plastic bags with a strong and tight closing system. You can find these on ebay or any outdoors and trail running supply store.
Be sure to test them out beforehand, because in our experience not all ‘waterproof’ gear is as waterproof as the label says.
9. Eco-friendly soap bar, anti-disinfectant liquid and/or anti-bacterial cream for scrapes
Mud is fun to run through, however it’s also the perfect ecosystem for all sorts of microbes. There are a number of illnesses racers get because they ingest murky water or get it in contact with broken skin, infecting the wounds. These illnesses include: stomach bugs, causing diarrhoea and vomiting, Weil’s (Leptospirosis), which is admittedly very uncommon, and the well known lime disease from ticks. You have to remember that most trails are living grounds for forest and wild animals, and rodents.
You can simply brush off most of the dried mud, however it will still leave a residue and a layer of mud on your body (people taking showers after the race know how long it takes to properly wash off that ‘mudcake’ skin layer). Generally it would be enough to simply take care of your face/mouth area and hands with some soap and, as previously mentioned, with a dedicated water bottle.
Moreover, getting over the obstacles usually featured in races can lead to bruises and scrapes, so don’t forget to add some anti-bacterial cream after cleaning any wounds.
10. Extras depended on your body needs
A list of other items you might require for a race day:
- Kinetic tape
- Knee, elbow pads and various compression gear
- Hand and other body part warmers (if in cold climates)
Make sure to pack all of these essentials and you will be ready to overcome what’s left – focusing on the obstacles and performing your very best. As mentioned before – make sure to get and pre-pack these items long before you need to leave for the race.
If you have any suggestions to add to this list of essentials, feel free to leave a comment below.