For longer races (and even for some not so longer ones), you may find yourself at the race bag check. What is it and how do you pack for it? I’m so glad you asked.
What Is Bag Check?
Bag check is a service offered at some events (generally larger ones), where you can literally “check” a bag of supplies that volunteers hold in an area until after the race. The bag is marked with your bib number (either with a tab from your actual bib or some other kind of sticker or marker) for easy identification at pick up. Bag check comes in handy in situations such as not having easy access to your vehicle, being at a longer event where you may want to freshen up after, or dealing with the elements when you might need extra clothing or shoes.
What Kind of Bag Can I Use?
Unless the race specifies and/or provides you a gear check bag, you can use anything. I like to use those little drawstring backpacks so I can make sure the top is closed. Some events prefer you use something clear so they can make sure no one is stowing anything dangerous.
What Should I Pack?
Here’s a list of items I am most likely to pack:
- towel (can be used to wipe off, or as a privacy curtain to change)
- baby wipes
- hairbrush (is it me or does anyone else’s hair get really tangled after a race?)
- clean change of clothes
- foam roller or similar
- favorite snack
- water bottle
- compression socks or sleeves
- plastic bag for dirty/sweat items
- portable battery pack
You can also use your bag to stash a jacket or blanket or poncho if you were using it pre-race but don’t need it to run.
After a race, I can get cleaned up in a restroom, and be all ready to enjoy the after party or grab something to eat for drink without being too uncomfortable (or stinky). I can also start recovery with some compression and rolling.
What Should Never Go In A Checked Race Bag?
While most gear check areas are monitored, I would never stow valuables in my bag. Race volunteers are amazing people, but they are not responsible if your personal items go missing. As a result, I will never leave my car keys, ID, wallet, or money in gear check. I would also refrain from stashing my phone or any other kind of electronics in my checked bag. Instead, I carry my phone, my driver’s license, a major credit card, and maybe some cash on my person while I run, and leave the rest at home.
What are your tips for race bag check?
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Deborah Brooks says
Most of the races lately only allow clear bags that they provide. If I do check a bag it is a jacket or sweatshirt for afterwards or if it is raining a dry layer.
That definitely tracks. I haven’t had to do a bag check in a while, but my last one, you could use any kind of bag.
Darlene S Cardillo says
I love bag check esp when it is cold out. Like this coming weekend. I always pack a packable down jacket. In the summer, it’s flip flops, dry shirt and towel.
What Deborah said is true here – must be in a clear bag.
Interesting. I’m going too see what happens at Donna.
Lisa @ Mile by Mile says
I’ve always tried to avoid using the gear check at races especially if it gets complicated logistically. But they really can be helpful when you’re not planning to go right home after a race! For smaller races where I can park nearby I like to just leave a few things in my car.
A ver comprehensive list & good reminders what not to check.
I’ve been lucky in my halfs because my husband has come to most (but not all) them. He is generally my Sherpa, photographer & bag check.
The only thing I’d probably add is comfortable shoes to change into post race.
Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Is it ever too cold for running?
Great reminders, Jenn!
I once checked my bag for a race in the mountains. It was freezing cold at the finish line and they couldn’t find my bag. It took the volunteers over an hour to locate it. By that time, I was frozen. It definitely made me appreciate my bag all the more!
Weirdly, I’ve never used race bag check. I guess I haven’t done a bigger race in a long time, and it’s been convenient for me to get back to my car at the end. But, these are great tips- I’m sure at some point I”ll do a race and want to check a bag.
This is such a helpful list1 I would have forgotten a portable battery charge it but you do not want to be without a phone after a race!
After the race is when you get the best photos!