Packing for an Ultra: The Airplane Edition
Tip One: I don’t try and stuff everything into a carry on.
The Carry on Bag: should contain all the essentials for your race, the bare minimum that you need to complete the race. This would include my shoes (if you are not wearing them on the plane), Race day kit-the running bra, socks, underwear, shorts, shirt. Your light and hydration pack. In case your luggage is lost, you can still start your race.
I don’t put gels or nutrition in the carry on, FSA is too quirky with yay or nay in various airports, it’s not worth losing your supply along the plane route.
I have a list of what is going in various drop bags but I don’t pack the drop bags ahead of time. Why? Because TSA is going to go through your bags and rip them apart. I find it a better plan to do them after the flight.
Tip Two: Research Your Area
Research! An out of town race means some pre-scouting your destination, both where you are flying into and and your race destination.
For example, Silverton CO has a very basic and expensive grocery store. You would be better off to buy supplies in Durango or Montrose where there are big box stores with much more variety.
I flew into Charlotte NC for the Uwharrie 100. Charlotte is a big city with more than one REI. That means I could pretty much buy new kit and food-like gels-if my suitcase is lost.
I also checked to see what stores I would pass on my way to the race hotel. I made sure to stop on the outskirts of Charlotte to buy my various food items. When flying I do not bring food items I can buy at my final destination.
What nutrition do I bring with me in the suitcase?
My gels. If I am not planning on stopping at an REI or running store. My Ultragen. Yes I put a white powder in a plastic bag. I also took the Ultragen label off the big bottle and affixed that to the bag. I hope it passed TSA s ecuirty. IF not, well that would be a phone call to REI or a running store or bike store to see if they carry Ultragen or Recoverite.
Tip Three: Go Early
Go early to your race destination if you can. I like to show up one or better, two days prior to race. There is less stress if flights are delayed or cancelled, luggage lost, or rental cars not available.
Where are you staying? Hotel, cabin, camping? Check that out ahead of time. I didn’t bring instant coffee to my hotel in Zion, and didn’t realize any coffee/restaurants didn’t wake up as early as I did, so I was a bit coffee deficient. I did have a microwave, so I could have had coffee!
Tip Four: Think About the Plane Flight Home
Congratulations! You finished your race! Now you have to go home. Make sure you have comfortable clothes to sack out in. Make sure you have shoes or sandals that will fit your poor overtaxed blistered feet. Make sure you get up to stretch and move those legs around on your flight home!
Have you flown to a running event? Any tips to add in the comments?