Marathons are like childbirth in many ways: they hurt while you do them, as soon as you finish you swear blind you’ll never do it again but a few months later you’ve signed up for the next one. But there’s one other thing they share – that you need a little bag packed for afterwards.
The moments after a marathon often get strangely ignored. You’re all ready for the start with your breakfast, spare loo roll and in my case, a pillow to sit on (it’s a long wait before you corral at Disneyland!). During the race you’ve got your own body weight in gels, liquids and anti-chafing goo- but after? Nothing. Normally, it’s a case of flump down at the finish line with the free banana, but after doing a lot of half marathons and a couple of fulls, I learned that having a few simple things packed in my gear bag can make the hour while you sit and wait for your buddies to finish, or summon up the enthusiasm to move, a lot more pleasant. Here’s what I always pack for a post race….
1) Flip flops: It takes me close to 6 hours to run a marathon. I always get a blister. I have before now lost a toenail. When I cross the finish line all I can think about is how hot my feet are and how much I want my shoes OFF. And, particularly if you do have a blister, the last thing you want to do after letting your feet free is put your trainers back on again. Flip Flops (post run weather willing) are your friend.
2) Food/liquid that isn’t sweet: I go back to my six hours timing – six hours of drinking sweet things ending in ADE, squeezing in the pure sugar that is Gu, eating bananas, orange slices, maybe a Jelly Bean if I get lucky enroute, I finish hungry but I also finish thinking ‘If I never eat anything sugary again it will be too soon.’ A packet of crisps, or even better, peanuts and a bottle of fizzy water tastes like the best food on earth at a finish line.
3) Some kind of wet wipe. Getting the salt off your face and freshening up some other bits makes the concept of post run journey’s home just that little bit more bearable. If I think there’s a possibility of heading to the pub afterwards (six hours remember, it’s lunchtime by then), I might also throw in dry underwear and a new T-shirt. Say hello to post marathon chest breakout if you don’t.
So that’s it, my post run checklist. Do you pack anything for after races? Have I forgotten anything vital? Let me know. Oh, and here I am after the Disneyland Half Marathon – NB: I have not yet removed my shoes!
Top 3 images: freedigitalphotos.net