The first thing you may ask yourself before reading this article is, “Why would I want to do this?” It’s a valid question. And I really have no answer for you other than to say: because it’s possible.
A few weeks ago while browsing the upcoming races on active.com, I noticed that there were three races taking place on the same day. As I was trying to decide which one I wanted to sign up for, I realized that they all took place at different times and in different cities. With a little research on Google Maps, I calculated that it would actually be possible (though not easy) to run all three in the same day. So I did what any foolish runner in this situation would do: I signed up for all three.
Some day you may find yourself in this same situation. When that day comes, I’d like to help make sure you’re ready. So, here are 10 tips (some obvious, some not so obvious) for preparing to run multiple races on the same day, based on my experience this past weekend running what my friends and I now refer to as Chicagoland’s First Annual February Fool’s Goal Half Marathon/Debacle:
1. Make sure this is really something you want to do. If you’re not obsessed with running (and running adventures), you’re probably not going to have a good time with this. My three-in-one race day took about eight hours overall from start to finish.
2. Get at least one friend to do it with you. You might have a good time doing this alone, but your day will be a lot more fun with company (especially the long car rides in between races). This also gives you someone to help with the logistics along the way and to recap with later.
3. Map out your course beforehand. Smartphones make it easy to get directions on the fly, but make sure you have a general idea of the route you’ll be taking before you get started. This will give you an idea of what type of traffic you might be facing and if there are any toll roads that require cash.
4. Give yourself plenty of time. Make sure you have at least half an hour of cushion between when you think you’d be able to get to the next race site and when that race starts. Zooming from location to location is part of the fun, but you want to make sure you’re not adding too much stress or pressure to speed while driving between races. One of our races was delayed 25 minutes. We barely made the next race – without that cushion we would have failed in our multi-race mission.
5. Overpack. Pack a full running outfit (including shoes and socks) for every race you’re planning to run. You may not end up needing all this gear, but it’s definitely better to have that extra pair of gloves than to be forced to slip on the same cold, sweaty pair before hitting the trail for five miles. It’s also a good idea to bring a small gear check bag just in case.
6. Bring snacks. We had the three Gs: Gatorade, Gu and Granola bars. Most of the races had post race food but when you’ve got plans to run another race you want to keep the eating and drinking to a minimum.
7. If at all possible, do pre-race packet pickup. Sometimes packet pickup can be a hassle – it’s in an out-of-the-way location or at an odd time – but it’s better to have your race bibs ready to go on race day than have to scramble to get yourself checked in the day of the race. This may only save you a few minutes, but it gives you one less thing to stress about on race day. And if you don’t have one of these, get one now. This is a huge time-saver when you’re switching out multiple bibs over the course of the day.
8. Let race directors know your plans. Some of them may not care but you’d be surprised. At packet pick-up I told the race director of the first race we’d be running about our plan to run three that day. She recognized me as I crossed the finish line on race day and ran to grab finisher’s medals for all three of us even though they weren’t being officially passed out yet.
9. Don’t forget a set of clothes for when it’s all over. You may just feel like heading home but it’s always nicer to be in a set of clean street clothes after a day of racing.
10. Have fun. We got a speeding ticket, got rained on and made our final race with literally only one minute to spare. But as long as you keep a positive attitude you can turn any hardship into a challenge to be overcome.