From the must-haves to the nice-to-haves, a race day bag checklist will help put any half marathoner's mind at ease.
Running Shoes1 of 17
This is a pretty important one. I mean, unless you really love bleeding, blistered feet.
But in all seriousness, a good half marathon shoe should provide enough support to last the full 13.1, especially in the final miles when your energy levels are near depletion and your form starts to break down. Make sure to break in your shoes long before race day and never wear a brand new pair when you hit the starting line.
We like the versatile Brooks Glycerin 13 for both training runs and race day. The midsole provides 25 percent more cushion than the company's regular midsole material, making for a soft ride that lasts through the miles. Ideal Pressure Zones in the outsole disperse impact away from the body, lessening the stress of each step—which can really make a difference on double-digit runs.
Race Number and Safety Pins2 of 17
Your race number is basically proof that you are an official, registered runner. And you can't attach the number to your shirt without pins, so it's a good idea to keep those together in a small plastic bag.
Some race numbers have timing chips built into the bibs themselves, making it even more important. On that note, if the timing chip is separate (an ankle/wrist strap or shoe attachment), add that to this list as well.
Not only does your race bib identify you on race day, it also helps you find those awesome race photos. Because we all know how good everyone looks while running. (Unless you're Ridiculously Photogenic Guy, of course.)
Photo courtesy of Will B. King.
Body Glide3 of 17
This product can be a runner's saving grace when the going gets tough—not to mention sticky and sweaty. You'll probably want to apply it to those sensitive areas before you get dressed, but having some extra product in your bag will put your mind at ease if you start to feel a hot spot before the gun goes off.
Energy Gels or Chews4 of 17
After eating a healthy breakfast, many runners want an extra source of quick energy right before the race begins. Gels and chews pack the biggest punch into the smallest package, but they don't work for everyone. Energy drinks can be easier on your stomach than gels, but you might feel it in your bladder mid-race.
Regardless, make sure you've tested these items on training runs. If water stations offer energy products you know don't agree with your stomach, consider carrying your own.
Keep in mind, your race morning breakfast should be real, solid food to ensure energy products are not your primary source of fuel.
Visor or Hat5 of 17
Wearing something on your head is a matter of each runner's preference, but a hat can do wonders whether it's cold (grab a technical fabric beanie) or sunny (top off with a visor or cap).
We love the flexible band and shorter bill of the Brooks Run Thru Visor, a super lightweight and comfortable option for men or women.
Sunglasses6 of 17
All you really want to see on race day is the finish line, but a good pair of sunglasses will protect your peepers from sun, wind and debris en route to your new personal record. Select a pair with interchangeable lenses and throw the extra pair in your bag in case conditions change shortly before the start.
Cash7 of 17
It's always a good idea to bring cash for parking, especially if the race is in a large or densely populated city. While some lots will have credit card machines, others only accept cash, and you definitely don't want to stress over parking on race morning. Smaller bills are a safe bet in case you need to pay with exact change.
Water Bottle8 of 17
Hopefully, you've been hydrating more than normal in the days leading up to the race, and you'll want to continue to do so on race morning. Just make sure you know where the Porta Potties are, as you'll probably have to hit them once or twice—or more—before the race.
Windbreaker or Vest9 of 17
A cover-up is key on race morning, especially if you arrive early—which we highly recommend. Standing around in the cold will only tighten up your muscles, so beware of stripping down to your race outfit too soon.
The Drift Shell from Brooks is the perfect pre-race layer. It's light, wind-resistant and even water-resistant if the weather is less than perfect.
Extra Ponytail Holders10 of 17
Ladies, we all know the horror of your only hair tie snapping when you need it most—like right before a run. If your hair is long enough to tie back into a ponytail (this includes long-maned men—no judging here), always bring an extra hair tie or two to avoid sweaty hair covering your neck and flopping in your face for 13.1 miles. Yuck.
Toilet Paper11 of 17
Hopefully you won't need it, but you'll be glad you have it if you find yourself in a worst-case scenario. Whether the Porta Potties have run out of TP or you have to pop an emergency squat, your own stash could be the most valuable item in your bag.
Old Sweatshirt (That You Don't Mind Losing)12 of 17
If the temperatures are still a little too cool for your liking when race time rolls around, consider throwing on an old sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt—one that you won't miss if you're ready to take it off after a few miles.
Try to find a trashcan or donation bin instead of throwing them on the ground; luckily, most races gather and donate leftover clothing they find along the course.
Cheap Set of Gloves13 of 17
We've all seen runners dressed in singlets and shorts in 40-degree weather—but don't worry, they're wearing gloves! On the surface this doesn't make much sense, but the reason is fairly technical.
When you're running, most of the blood is pumping to your legs and core. This means not as much blood is circulating to your hands and fingers, keeping their temperature lower. The same goes for your head, which is why you also see many elites clad in a hat and gloves, no matter how little clothing they wear elsewhere.
Gloves are an easy way to keep your extremities warm before and during the race. We recommend a cheap cotton pair (Target sells a three pack for less than $10), so if you heat up, you can throw them to the side. Keep your eyes peeled at the expo, as brands frequently sponsor freebies.
Sunscreen14 of 17
Even if it's a little bit cloudy, don't skip the sunscreen. There's really no reason not to wear sunscreen. End of story.
Running Watch15 of 17
With your running watch being on the smaller side, this item can easily be forgotten (in fact, this writer even has done it a couple of times), so be sure to double- and triple-check that you have it.
This holds especially true if you're trying to stay on a certain pace or shooting for a PR, because unfortunately, the official time clock doesn't follow you around the course.
Change of Clothes16 of 17
There are few worse things than having to wear wet, stinky clothes for an extended period of time after a run, and it's not good for your body, either.
Clean, dry clothes are a welcome feeling after a race, especially if you head out for a celebratory meal with your family or friends. Throw in a few options for varying temperatures, so you know you'll be prepared.