Running can be stressful enough, having to worry about navigation, the weather and niggling aches, but none of that compares to the stress of packing a race bag. You want to pack everything and then spares for everything you've already packed but then you weigh you're bulging bag and realise running with 10kg for 20 plus miles is no fun at all. And that is just for one day races.
The problem is just compounded when it comes to the increasingly popular multi day events, but it doesn't need to be so complicated. That's why we've put together the seriously simple five step guide to packing for a Multi Day Event.
This might sound obvious, but mandatory kit is exactly what it sounds like MANDATORY. I say that this might sound obvious but we've all been stood behind that person at a kit check arguing why it doesn't matter they don't have a headtorch. Don't be that person.
Check the race rules, pack everything on the list. Unpack it and then double check it against that list again. There is a time and a place to cut back, the mandatory kit list however is not it.
Many multiday events will allow you to bring two bags one for the camp and one for you to run with you on the stages. When your busy packing it can be really tempting to want to stuff all the comforts of home into that camp bag, but fight that urge hard. The reality is that after a long day of running you will more than likely be far too tired and hungry to make use of them. Instead keep your camp supplies to a sensible minimum and use that extra space for spares and replacement stage kit. Believe me you'll be a lot more grateful for being able to pull on fresh socks each day than you will for those great big over ear headphones.
The term essential is relative. What might seem to be an absolute must from the comfort of your home, may not seem quite so important after lugging it over mountains for several days. Note that this is twice as true if you have to carry all your camp kit on your back too.
Layout everything you think you can’t do without for the race. Go make a cup of tea and come back with fresh eyes, if it helps split the lot into two piles essential and very essential. You can guess which pile will not be going with you.
Depending on whether your Multi Day Event provides you with food at the camp each day or not, food is either super important or the most important aspect.
If they are feeding you at night and in the morning then all you have to concern yourself with is what you will be fuelling yourself with on the course. This wants to be calorie dense, easy to eat on the move and hardy enough to be in your bag.
We obviously recommend our fantastic flapjacks but what ever you go for make sure it's something you have used heavily in training as the last thing you want to find out is that your stomach can't handle gels on day two of a five day race...
The other thing to be aware of is that the catering at these events will not be what's best for your performance but what is best for the event as a whole. There might be shortages and all the food on offer might not be to your taste. Be smart and take any extras you think you might need, especially in the form of protein to help you recover as much as possible.
If however you have to carry all your food with you then calorie to weight ratio is the name of the game. List all your favourite running foods and divide the number of calories by the number of grams per serving to come up with the ratio. The higher it is the better, within reason. Chunks of beef fat might look good from a ratio perspective but they aren't going to look tempting to you when your running.
So you've laid out all your kit, all your food and everything else you are taking with you. Now this is the important part, take each item and rid it of any and all wrapping or package that it came in and replace it with a sandwich bag. Batteries out of the cardboard, flapjacks out of their wrappers, salt tablets out of their tubes, etc etc….
This will seem excessive but it will save you weight and it gives you another opportunity to check that you have all your mandatory kit and nothing else that you don't need.
Once you've decided on what you are taking, you've packed it up and brought it to the event. Do not give in to the temptation to throw half of it away when you see people running around with backs barely big enough for a water bottle.
Don't get caught up in this pre race panic, everybody has different race plans and just as importantly - that stranger with the tiny bag isn't necessarily right. Stick with what you've trained with and any mistakes you make this time, learn from them, for the next time.