There’s something to be said for the small hometown races. They’re easy to navigate, registration is usually pretty simple, and getting back home isn’t a tedious event. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love a good Mega race. After running more than my fair share of Rock n’ Roll series races, along with a couple of majors, it’s safe to say I have an appreciation for the big races. Even though they do require some extra preparation and planning. Here’s my tops tips for mega races, so you can enjoy all the fanfare without feeling like an overwhelmed tourist.
Tips for Mega Races
• Consider Using A Drop Bag -It can take a long time to get back to your car or hotel, especially with big crowds. One of the benefits of larger races is that you have the option to bring some spare clothes, some flip flops, and a couple snacks in a drop bag waiting for you at the finish line.
• Keep the Expo Short – Big races usually mean big expo’s. And honestly for a lot of people, some of these are once in a lifetime races, so I’m not saying not to take some pics, grab a souvenir mug, and enjoy a couple of samples. But I am saying don’t spend an extra 4 hours on your feet the day before a big race. Honestly, once you’ve seen one expo, you’ve seen them all.
• Plan to Line Up 30 Min Early – You can count on things being packed and hectic, and it can be super disorienting. Give yourself a good 30 minute buffer to make sure you can find your starting corral, take a spot, and do a few squats to warm up. If you get there even earlier, you might have a chance to stand in line at a port-a-potty!
• Don’t Ditch the Phone – I really hate carrying anything with me during races, especially if I don’t have to. For a long time, I never carried my cell phone, because it was just something extra that I didn’t want to deal with. But for big races, there are too many reasons you want to have that sucker on hand. Meeting up with your family, finding the closest Waffle House, or even navigating back to your car or hotel are just a few reasons I never leave my cell phone behind anymore.
• Carry Your Own Fuel – This piece of advice is not specific to larger races, but bears mentioning. A lot of runners might be tempted to train with and utilize the fuel that is on the course at bigger races. In fact, some runners see this as a benefit to running a bigger race. However, you never, ever know if aid station spots are going to end up moved or running out, and the last you want to deal with is running on an empty stomach. Carrying fuel can certainly suck, but running without it a whole lot suckier. I promise.
• Travel Wisely – If you are coming in from out of town, do a lot of research before you book. Will the host hotel probably be more expensive and booked way ahead of the race? Yes. Does it help to make sure you end up staying in at least a half mile radius of the host hotel? Also yes. Can you decide that booking anywhere in the city limits is worth saving some money? Sure. But make absolutely sure you know how to get to the start line, where you can park, how you’re going to get there, and how much time the commute is going to take (especially with the influx of traffic from runners and spectators).
Running one of the Majors, or just any large race, can be so a lot of fun. Especially when they’re hosted by a reputable team. But having a little extra information and planning can really help make sure you don’t walk away over-whelmed and frustrated.