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What to pack in your gear bag? First Time Marathon 101

Updated on February 27, 2014

Your First Marathon

First of all Congratulations!

You are about to become a marathoner!

I never thought I would be a marathoner and even up until mile 15 I am not sure I believed I would be. Even if you hate your time (I am afraid to speak mine out loud) you still have completed a huge journey. I was a non runner last year and starting the 0 to marathon program in March of 2013 completing the October Chicago Marathon.

The Gear Bag

I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2013. So our gear bag was one of the lovely clear plastic bags that was provided for us. So this eliminated the need to find an actual bag.

If you need to find a bag to put you stuff in I suggest a drawstring bag that doesn't cost a lot or a bag that can easily be spotted and you are not opposed to possibly losing.

The Gear Bag

The Gear Bag
The Gear Bag | Source


If at all possible do not keep anything of value in your gear bar - there is a possibility that it could become lost, stolen, or misplaced.

I had a single credit card and my transportation card in my running pants throughout the race.


What to Bring

I have compiled a list of items that you may want to make sure make it into your gear bag before you leave the house. These are thing you may want before, during, or after the race.

Things you may need before the race;

  • Chapstick
  • Body glide
  • Breakfast
  • Throw Away Layer
  • Sunscreen
  • Small blanket to stretch or roll out on before the race

Things to bring with you on the course:

  • Energy - what ever you plan on eating
  • Bandanna
  • Garmin, watch, whatever you use to track
  • Bib and/ or tracker
  • Music/ earbuds

Things you may want after the race:

  • Change of clothes - underwear, socks, bra, etc make sure they are comfortable
  • Hat
  • deodorant
  • lotion

Runner Set Go!

Have you ever run a marathon?

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The Throw Away Layer

If you are new to running as I was I had no clue about this throw away layer the first race I did. The throw away layer is basically an over the top layer that you can wear in the starting gates to keep yourself warm before you start running. You are never going to see this layer again.

I went to goodwill found a large zip up sweatshirt that I didn't feel bad throwing away. The same can be done with a pair of sweatpants. Many races wash and then donate these items to homeless shelters after the race. Some people have old clothes sitting around that they may not mind getting rid of. Don't spend a ton of money on these clothes.

I do recommend clothes that are easy to remove right before the races starts or within the first hundred feet of your run. AND remember that your bib needs to be visible when you cross the starting line and you don't want to be repining a bib in the first mile of the race. Remember you are dressing as if it were 20 degrees warmer than it is outside in your running gear so you maybe cold without this layer.

After the Race

To be honest everything I packed for after the race I didn't use.

I pretty much got my bag and headed home for a hot shower. There are several scenarios that could have happened that would have made me happy to have my comfy clothes in my gear bag where I would have changed and use them. It was just a twist of circumstances afterward that I didn't. I took the train home and got in a hot shower quickly thereafter.

Since the race I ran in gave us food, beer, blankets, and treats afterward i didn't feel the need to bring any of those things. check with your race to see what is provided on the course and after the course. You may need to eat something in order to go on after running 26.2 miles!

Good Luck

Good Luck, Have Fun!

Whether it is your first of many or your first and only the marathon will be an accomplishment that you will never forget. Enjoy it because you earned it!


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