What’s in my half marathon race bag?

On Sunday, I completed the Southampton Half Marathon for the second year on the trot. (And I beat last year’s time by three minutes – whoop!)

This meant that after several bowls of pasta and countless slices of white bread on Saturday it was time to pack my bag for the big race.

My half marathon packing list

As well as remembering the obvious things like my race number, there are also a few other things I like to take to make sure I’m comfortable on a race day.

Here’s what I pack in my half marathon race bag. What’s in yours?

half-marathon-race-bag Race number

Well, obviously. No race will let you complete without your race number.

Even if any did, I don’t have a running watch. So I rely on the chip on the back of my race number for my timings.

Safety pins

I generally try to fix my race number to my running top the night before a race.

However, this isn’t possible if I have to collect it on the day or if I need to wait to see what the weather’s like before I make a call on what running top to wear.

In these cases, it’s worth remembering a few extra safety pins in case they’re in short supply at the venue.


Rather than guzzle down a load of water before a race, I try to drink plenty in the days leading up to it.

However, I do like the odd sip of water on the way to the event so I’m hydrated beforehand.

It’s also good to have some water handy after the race in case I forget to pick any up at the finish line.

Sports drink and water bottle

If I’m doing a run of more than 6-7 miles I prefer to take a sports drink rather than plain water. This is because I find I usually need the extra calories it provides (approx 140 calories per bottle) to see me through.

I’m used to carrying my own drink when I go running. So I do the same when I run a race. I do this even if there are sports drinks available at the race’s water stations as I don’t like to risk drinking something new that disagrees with me on race day.

Jelly Babies

As well as the calories from a sports drink, I usually need a bit more energy from another source when I’m running for more than 90 minutes.

I’ve tried those gels in the past. But, to be frank, I find them disgusting. Plus they play havoc with my insides and I have enough trouble in that department on long distance runs as it is.

Up step Jelly Babies. As long as I can munch them with some water, they do the job admirably.

I’ve also tried Maoam “Pinballs,” which are pretty effective too. But they make a distracting racket in your bumbag or pocket as you run.

Spare top

Unless I’m sure what the weather is going to be like on the day, I take a spare running top in case I have to switch from no sleeves to long sleeves (and vice versa).

Unfortunately, I made the wrong decision to go with long sleeves at the Southampton Half and I ended up getting hot when the sun came out after a few miles.

Bum bag

My current running shorts don’t have pockets. So I wear a small bum bag to ferry my Jelly Babies.

I’ve also been known to carry my cameraphone on more picturesque races like the Camelot Challenge.


My race day breakfast is a white bagel smeared in peanut butter.

After that, I chomp down a banana for a pre-race energy/potassium boost while I’m milling about on the start line.


I’m lucky in that I don’t have to put up with too much chafing while running.

That said (and please don’t try to picture this), my nipples do get a battering if my running top gets damp. So, a little bit of Vaseline provides some much needed protection in case of rain.

Bin bag

Growing up, the only time you were allowed to wear a bin bag was as part of a crudely made Halloween costume.

Nowadays I wear one to keep me (relatively) warm on the start line once I’ve dropped my jumper off at the baggage tent.

Spare t-shirt

Many races don’t have showers at the finish line. So it’s nice to slip into a fresh t-shirt before travelling home.

That said, you get a decent free t-shirt at the end of the Southampton Half Marathon. So I didn’t bother packing one on Sunday.

Contact info

Finally, I stick a slip of paper with my race number, phone number and name in my bag so the organisers can identify it if the tag goes missing.

Over to you

What’s in your race bag? Is there anything else I should be packing to stay more comfortable on the day?