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What To Bring to an Obstacle Race: 18 Essentials

30 Oct 2012

Now that you’ve put in the time to train for an obstacle race, you need to plan for everything beyond the training aspects of race day: from checking in logistics to post-race celebration.

Even though some of the things you’ll need for an obstacle race are similar to what you’d bring for any other run, an obstacle race presents unique challenges. You don’t usually expect to get muddy, and you can often rule out the possibility of getting a few scrapes during a typical run.

So you’ll need some things beyond what you’d bring for a road race. Be sure to pack the following items.

18 Obstacle Race Day Essentials

1. Photo ID

If your race requires pre-event bib pick-up, you may not need photo ID. But if you don’t pick up your bib ahead of time, if you’re planning on driving to the venue, or if you want to enjoy a celebratory drink, you’ll need photo ID.

Take your driver’s license, passport, student ID — any photo verification you can use to prove you’re you.

2. Bib Number

As I mentioned above, if your race requires you pick up your bib number you ahead of time, remember to bring it on race day.

3. Cash

Paying attention to detail

You’ll need cash for parking and food and drinks following the race. Some vendors may be set up to accept credit card at the race, but I wouldn’t count on it. Parking organizers are also typically cash-only.

So if you plan on buying food or other items sold by vendors like apparel, recovery drinks, and more, I recommend bringing at least $25-$30 in cash.

4. Water

It may not be a bad idea to keep a gallon of water in your car. You may need a cooler if your race is in the summer. You can use this for not only hydration, but for washing up at the end of the race.

How much water you need depends on you. At the very least, have some water before your race, but not too much. Have some as needed throughout the race at water stations and again at the end.

5. Change of Clothes

If you’re in for a muddy one, you’ll want to have an extra change of clean clothes.

After 3+ miles of obstacles, water, mud, and sludge, you won’t want to wear your race day apparel. Pack a top & bottom, underwear, and clean socks. The post-race celebration will be more enjoyable in fresh clothes.

6. Change of Footwear

If it’s a warm day, I recommend packing flip-flops or other sandals.

But if it’s cold, any pair of comfortable shoes will do to change into after your race.

7. 1-2 Trash Bags

If you plan to keep your race day apparel, you’ll need to store it somewhere once you’ve changed into a clean set of clothes.

Pack 1-2 trash bags (capable of carrying at least 13 gallons).

8. Backpack or Duffel Bag


You’ll need a bag to carry your gear and race day essentials. Pick one you don’t mind getting dusty or muddy.

9. Hand Sanitizer


Hand Sanitizer is not going to get all the muck off you, but it may help get rid of some mud-associated bacteria following the race.

Be sure to bring some along if you’re planning on handling food afterwards.

10. Watch


If you want to keep an eye on your time, wear a water-resistant watch.

If you’re setting goals for your race, you can also bring a sports watch or wrist-held trainer that can track intervals between obstacles, lap times, pace, etc.

Garmin offers similar watches in their Forerunner series.

11. Towels

I suggest packing two towels: one to dry off and one to place over the seats of your car. The extra towel may help keep your car muck-free.

12. Post-Race Recovery Snack

Unless you plan on getting food at the venue, pack a good post-race snack or two.

A good recovery snack contains a 3 or 4:1 carb: protein ratio. If you plan on eating something at the venue, be sure to keep this ratio in mind. Oftentimes recovery shakes or sandwiches fit the bill.

13. In-Race Fuel

If your race is over a couple hours, consider taking some easily stored in-race nutrition with you. I recommend Hammer Nutrition Gels.

14. Sunscreen/Sunblock

Yes, you will get muddy, but you’ll still need to protect your skin from the sun. This is especially important if you have a race that will take you more than an hour to complete.
Any sunscreen/sunblock will do.

I’ve recently become a fan of Sun Bum products. The Sun Bum Face Stick Sunscreen is non-greasy, does not run at all, and convenient to bring along. Sun Bum Sunscreen Sprays layer on easily and evenly.

15. Pain Reliever

If you get hurt or pull a muscle, you may want to have some Advil, Ibuprofen, or other choice of pain reliever.

Be sure you’re well-hydrated if you need to take a pain reliever afterwards. Advil/Ibuprofen can cause damage to kidneys if you’re dehydrated.

16. Band Aids


You may actually want to pack a travel size first aid kit to go above and beyond bandages. You may get a few scrapes and cuts, which can be treated by first aid responders at the venue, but it may not hurt to bring your own supplies.

Band-Aids and neosporin or similar antibiotic ointment can help you treat simple abrasions. For more serious injuries, be sure to see a specialists provided by race organizers.

17. Friends

gigi and alice 

It’s not as much fun to take on the race alone as it is to finish with friends.

Talk a buddy or two into racing with you. Form your own team if you can!

18. Attitude

You’re going to need a great attitude and strong mindset to withstand the challenges from your race.

You will encounter many challenging obstacles and miles of trail and mud. Develop a tough mindset with these 5 tips.

So there you have it! 18 essential items to bring with you on race day.

Is there anything missing that you bring along for your race?

 

Image credits: cash, dogs

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