Dorothy Beal: Destination Marathon Packing Tips

Dorothy Beal was well-prepared at Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas. Photo: Lester Cacho

During the week leading up to a marathon, the most important thing to do is rest, while the second most important thing is to eliminate any stress. I advise that my runners pack their race-day bag early in the week, so they have time to think it over and aren’t left stressed and shoving things into a suitcase the night before the race.

I recommended you pack your race-day essentials in your carry-on bag in case you end up in the unfortunate circumstance where your luggage gets lost.

Race-Day Running Shoes

You don’t want to run with new shoes on race day. Even if you could find your exact brand and model, they would be new and not broken in. I like to have at least one 20-miler in the shoes I plan on racing in.

Your Watch or GPS Device

I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon this summer, without a watch. It was extremely hard pacing myself in the early miles because I had no idea what I was running for each mile. I most likely started out too fast because by mile 7 I wanted to walk off the course, something I have never done before. I also was in the thick of marathon training so 7 miles should not have felt hard. I didn’t realize I had forgotten my watch until race morning, so there was no possible way to buy a replacement. I believe I could have felt better and finished with a faster time if I had been aware of my pace.

Your Race-Day Outfit

Your race-day outfit should be one that you have tested out on a long run and are sure it isn’t going to give you any issues during the race. Repeat this to yourself often: nothing new on race day.


No one needs or wants blisters on race day from a new pair of socks. Plan ahead and pack two pairs in your carry-on.


You don’t want be stuck using fuel you aren’t accustomed to on race day. They are usually smaller than the allowed carry-on size and because this is a sealed food item, I have never had anyone at airport security give me a hard time.

It may seem silly to be this cautious when it comes to a race. But after thinking about how much you have invested in this race money-wise, emotionally and physically over the past months, packing these items in a carry-on doesn’t seem overly cautious. And if that’s not enough, my mom always told me, one can never be too careful. And moms are always right, right?

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