Challege Races: Athletic Gear + Backpack Tips

I have been asked many times for advice on how to dress for challenge races and what to bring, so I figured why not share the info in a post. Enjoy Spartans, Tough Mudders, Trail Ragnarians and others!

CLOTHING:

Note: I am basing this on average race weather, not winter conditions.

  • Dress in sportswear that is made from quality fabrics, has some compression and is comfortable, BUT not so expensive that you will be upset if your clothes are torn up from obstacles and getting down and dirty on a race course.
  • Breathable, lightweight fabric is the best so that if you become soaked by water features or Mother Nature you will not be weighed down.
  • Coverage is a key factor often overlooked. If you are going through several water features or it’s raining I would stay away from long-sleeve tops, ankle-length leggings, and loose fabrics that could weigh you down or get caught on objects. To that same point, I wouldn’t recommend wearing tiny shorts that offer little to no protection. I have found that Capri leggings are the best length because they offer mid-range coverage and protect your knees during crawling maneuvers.

GLOVES:

Bring fitness gloves you can wear to help protect your hands and provide you with a good grip on the obstacles. Again, I wouldn’t recommend buying expensive ones because they may get torn up. When I reach water obstacles I typically remove my gloves and stash them in my waistband to try and keep them dry.

SNEAKERS:

The importance of your feet being comfortable is commonly taken for granted and can make a huge difference in your race experience. I strongly advise not waiting until race day to break in new sneakers. Your sneakers should have good tread and ankle support to handle slippery surfaces, wooded and rocky terrain, especially for races that last more than three hours. Wearing lightweight sneakers and tying them securely is also a benefit if they become wet or heavy covered in mud. I cannot tell you how many random sneaker casualties I see along race courses. Be prepared to have to spray down (or power-wash 😉) your sneakers at the end of a race. If they are old and/or destroyed at the end, many races offer you the option to throw your sneakers in a donation pile.

BACKPACK ESSENTIALS:
Note: I like items that aren’t bulky and serve multiple purposes.

  • Emergency Phone Charger
  • Phone – place in a waterproof pouch if you use it during a race, I usually leave my phone in my backpack for fear it will get broken
  • Photo ID + Insurance Card + $20 Cash (in small bills) – place together inside a small ziplock baggie or a waterproof pouch
  • Keys
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand Sanitizer Gel – can be used for your hands or first-aid 
  • Small Bar Soap – like the kind from a hotel
  • Lip Sunscreen
  • Body Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Q-Tips
  • Nail Clippers – can double as scissors if needed
  • Standard Garbage Bag – can be used for garbage or as a rain poncho
  • Pack of Mini Tissues
  • Small Travel First-Aid Kit
  • Flashlight or Two Glow Sticks
  • Spare Pair of Socks
  • Spare Pair of Underwear
  • Light Packable Jacket or Sweatshirt shout-out for GORE-TEX® SHAKEDRY™ Jackets – breathable, lightweight, waterproof and reflective, totally worth the money, #GOREWear
  • Black Sharpie for writing your race number on the body part of your choice, filling out forms and more
  • Duct Tape – rip and roll up a small section from a large role; useful for covering blisters, patching holes and more
  • Water Bottle + Carabiner Clip
  • Electrolyte Tablets #nuun tablets are great because they come in a small waterproof container (based on a lake incident I had) and they are versatile; you can pop a tablet in your water bottle or the mini paper cups of water
  • Protein Bars
  • Energy Gels
  • Microfiber Towel – perfect for use at the end of a race on your body or to protect your car seat

Now go out and crush your race goals!!!!!

If you have any tips you would like to share, write them in the Comments section or send an email to galotgo@gmail.com and I will add them to this post.

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