How – and how not – to travel for running races | What To Know
What would you do for a beautiful Sunday when you are at New York City?
You never expect there are 50,000 runners in New York City for a marathon.
More than 50,000 runners are expected to travel to New York City this Sunday for the marathon.
If you’re one of them, or if you’ve ever traveled to compete in an athletic event, you know that there are a lot of ways things can go wrong. You’re staying in an unfamiliar place, eating unfamiliar food and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed.
Many runners have two approaches to competing in a foreign land: They either try to replicate their conditions at home as closely as possible, or they say screw it and run the race for fun, using traveling as an excuse for poor performance. But there is a middle ground.
Here are a few tips to help you balance having fun and doing your best when you travel for a race.
Get there early, stay late
Marathoner Chris Anselmo frequently travels for races, and says he always tries to arrive two nights early.
“I get in there earlier if I have to get acclimated to altitude,” he said.
He also spends a few days in the destination after the race so he can really enjoy himself without the race hanging over his head.
“After all, that is most of the reason why you are doing a destination run and not just doing one in your home town,” he said.
“Plus, it’s tough getting on a plane and sitting for hours just after a marathon.”
Try renting an apartment or house instead of a hotel room
When Michael Daly, a marathoner and founder of apparel company Boom Running, went to London for the 2011 marathon, he booked a small apartment in Lecester Square where he could prepare his own pre-race dinner and breakfast. That meant he could better control what he ate, and saved money. When Daly ran the Chicago marathon, he even packed his usual brand of pasta and red sauce to cook.
Find a place to stay near the starting line
“Though in hindsight I think this was slightly overboard,” he said.
Runner Stephanie Donohue traveled to Chicago for the Warrior Dash, but stayed with friends who didn’t live near the race.
“We got lost in a corn field on the way there, because that is all there is outside of Chicago,” she said. “We arrived late and started the race as the front pack was finishing their first lap, which was kind of fun.”
Runners in the New York City marathon in 2009.
Image: Flickr, Rebecca Wilson
When Daly traveled to London, his apartment was “right in the heart of things,” but he had to take the train to the race start. He researched the train schedule and found his station in advance, but still ran into trouble.
“Turned out the location was maybe too central,” he says. “The apartment was on a very busy street, at a busy intersection, at a bus stop, in one of the nightlife districts. I basically didn’t sleep for five nights before the race.”
Plan for a variety of weather
Donohue also traveled to London for the Where’s Wally race in late March. She lives in Boston, so she thought the weather couldn’t be colder than what she usually experiences. She was wrong.
There was a brutal cold snap on the day of the race, and while she wore her warmest clothes, including a down vest, her feet had “turned into cloven hooves” by the race’s start.
“I didn’t even bother taking off my down vest for running and I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say I did not warm up, even while running, nor did I regain feeling in my feet until the end, when I ran straight through the finish line and into a tea shop across the street,” she said.
She now recommends runners bring clothes for a variety of weather, even if you think you know what the conditions will be.
The forecast for this Sunday predicts temperatures in the 40s.
Bring your running gear as a carry-on
Runner Abigail Lesneski always brings her own pillow when she travels for races. And Marathoner Lauren McNiff says she puts her shoes, race outfit, and whatever she needs during the race in a carry on bag when she’s flying.
Map it out
Find the race start in advance, and make sure you know how to get from where you’re staying to the starting line, recommends Anselmo. He also suggests finding a store nearby for last minute supplies like water and snacks.
View New York City Marathon – New York, NY in a larger map
McNiff researches ahead of time to find restaurants that serve her favorite pre-race meal and makes reservations so she won’t be stuck eating too late.
Ice or have a beer after you finish (or both)
Anselmo says when he finishes a race, it’s “buy the jacket, beer, beer, beer in that order.”
Make it memorable
Daly says he takes an ice bath after longer races, which helps his legs recover so he can enjoy the rest of his trip.
Daly says if he’s running a big city marathon, he buys the local newspaper the next day.
“It’s usually a very cool keepsake,” he said. “The Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune print the names and times of all finishers, usually in a special section dedicated to the race itself. When else will you make the newspaper in such a big city?”
Despite the extra planning and uncertainty, all of these runners recommend traveling for races. Sure, conditions might not be perfect, and there might be mishaps like noisy sleeping locations or missed turns on the way to the race.
But races usually showcase the highlights of the city, giving runners an up-close look they might not otherwise get.
Claire Trageser is a multimedia journalist who contributes to NPR, Marie Claire, and Runner’s World. She has been a runner since graduating college and trains for marathons in her free time.
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See full story at mashable.com/2014/10/31/marathon-travel/