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.
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The moments after a marathon often get strangely ignored in advice article. 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?
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 in my post-race bag
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 en route.
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.
You can pick any wet wipe, but I don’t like baby wipes – I’ve spent the morning in Portaloos, I don’t want anything that then reminds me of nappies! I used to pack a brand called Mendill but it looks like they’ve been discontinued, so have a look at these instead…
Australian Body Care Lavender and Tea Tree Wipes: A nice mix of floral and tea tree so you feel super clean. Find Australian Bodycare Wipes, Lavender here.
4711 Cologne Tissues: These are a bit smaller than a wet wipe but if you’re not bothered about doing a full clean up, they’ll make you feel cleaner and fresher.4711 Eau de Cologne Tissues – 20g
If you’re in the US, you can check out the Bliss range and their Lemon and Sage Wipes. Check them out here.
If you don’t want to carry a big packet, just throw a couple in a Ziploc bag.
Or, you can also buy individually wrapped scented towels like you get on aeroplanes which seems like an even better idea. Check them out here.
4: A Lightweight Dress
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