5 Ways to Make Destination Racing Easier

by Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan, a three-time marathoner and frequent traveller, shares her top tips on destination racing.

Running a destination race is a great idea for so many reasons, but at the top of the list is that completing the race becomes an even bigger reward when you can turn it into vacation time. And even if you can’t stay beyond the race date, you will get to sightsee much of the city as you run. After all, let’s face it, there are only so many times you can run the races in your hometown before it gets a bit mundane.

But while running a destination race is exciting, it does present certain issues that running one at home does not. Here are some key things to keep in mind.

Plan the timing of your trip carefully

Book your flight so that you have enough time to recover from any jetlag. You need to be fresh and rested, so don’t plan your arrival too close to the race start. If you’re spending time exploring your destination, plan to have your vacation after the race; sightseeing and shopping calls for a lot of walking, and you don’t want to tire yourself out before you hit the starting line. If this is not possible, just be conscious of this in the days before your race and try to get plenty of sleep and stay off your feet as much as possible. I struggled with this in Las Vegas, where walking the Strip is part of the whole experience of visiting Sin City, and found myself with tired feet the day of my half-marathon.

Check out the race route

If you have a car, do a drive-through of the race route. Races sometimes offer a shuttle bus the day before the race so you can preview the route. It’ll give you a first-hand idea of what to expect.

Plan your meals

Before you get to your destination, research online or ask friends where you should go for your pre-race dinner. You’re likely seeking something heavier on carbs if you’re running a half-marathon or full marathon, which makes booking a table at a reputable Italian restaurant a good bet. But resist the temptation to order something you’ve never had before, no matter how delicious it sounds. Stick to flavours and ingredients you know and that you’re confident won’t disturb your stomach.

If you have an early race start, it’s possible that room service will be unavailable for an early hour breakfast. Look into whether there are any 24-hour diners nearby, or pick up some breakfast groceries. Remember that you may not have a kitchenette in your room, so in the weeks leading up to your race, be sure to test out breakfast foods you can easily eat on-the-go in advance of race day.

Find out details about the race

What sports drink will be offered on the route (is it one you’re familiar with or something unavailable at home)? You should not be trying anything new on race day, so pack your favourite electrolyte fuel if there’s a chance it will be unavailable at your destination. Will the markers be in kilometres or miles? As someone who only knows kilometres, I’ve been completely thrown for a loop in some American races I’ve run that have only had mile markers. You can use a running app or GPS watch to keep you in the know.