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I have run events in many different countries around the world, including the London, Paris, Berlin and Boston Marathons. I have picked up a lot of good tips, as well as making a few mistakes along the way!
Competing in an overseas event is an exciting challenge, but there are some more things to think about and potential added pressure. It is a great excuse to run somewhere new, run in the same race as the world’s elite, experience a different running culture (and have a holiday at the same time). However, with the added stress of travel, lost luggage, food selection in a foreign country, extreme weather conditions and jet lag, it can turn into a control freaks worst nightmare.
Here is what I have learnt so far.
There are a number of running travelling companies that arrange everything for you, from your race entry, flights, accommodation, transfers to and from the race and post race functions. However, it is also easy to do this yourself.
As I discovered at the Boston Marathon, accommodation can book up really fast and prices skyrocket, especially near the start or finish lines of an event. Make sure you get in early to secure your accommodation, and when booking accommodation consider transport options to and from the race, noise that may prevent you from getting a good night sleep and if you want to self cater or not.
When booking your flights, plan to arrive at least three days before the race to allow yourself time to get over jet lag, aclimatise to the conditions and soak up the atmosphere. You want to give yourself enough time to explore your surroundings, pick up your race pack and enjoy the race expo, while still having time to rest your legs before race day.
Select your seat early, especially for your return flight if you are flying out immediately after the marathon. An aisle seat or extra leg room is a must for recovering legs. Don’t forget your compression socks! When I flew from Berlin to London the morning after the Berlin marathon, there was a collective groan when we landed in London and the pilot announced we had missed out on an airbridge, and we must disembark using the stairs. It must have been a record for the longest amount of time to disembark an aircraft!
Nutrition is an important consideration for runners. Are your self catering? Can you buy your normal pre race dinner ingredients or will you be eating out? Can you take your own gels, bars, electrolyte solution with you, or will you be looking to purchase it once you arrive? Don’t forget to check customs at your destination so that you know if you need to declare certain food items. Tip: if you are taking electrolyte powder or tablets keep it in the original packaging. Small bags of white powder attract a lot of interest in airports.
Packing for an overseas race takes planning. You need your race kit and options for hot, cold or wet weather. As I have discovered, spring and autumn races can be cold and snowing one year and a heat wave the next. Be prepared and pack multiple options. Remember to pack clothes that you can wear and then discard at the start line.
Always pack your running shoes and race kit in your carry on baggage. You do not need the stress of your luggage not arriving at your destination! Although it can be a great excuse to shop up large, you do not want to be running in brand new shoes on race day.
Finally, if injury does occur in your training for a major race, don’t panic and cancel your trip, conversely don’t just leave it and wait and see. Have it assessed and treated sooner rather than later. The majority of running injuries will settle quickly when assessed and managed early.
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If you are planning an overseas race or would like any more info on how best to prepare, get in touch now.
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About the Author
Liz Edlin — Rehabilitation Physiotherapist
Liz is currently on Maternity Leave.