After months and months of training, tons of sweaty clothes, a blister or two and a few pasta dinners; you’ve made it to the start of the race in one piece!
Everything you’ve worked for is coming down to this one big moment. (No pressure intended, it’s really a moment to be enjoyed!) You most likely know exactly what you are going to eat in the morning of your race, what you are going to wear, and whether or not those pair of Mickey ears are going to drive you insane for the entire race or just part of it. You’re ready to go and will, no doubt, have a magical race.
Have you thought about what you are going to wear right after the race ends? After you collect your medal and smile for a few quick photos with your favorite runDisney characters? Take my advice, you’re going to want to change your clothes. While the thought of bending down to your feet is going to seem an impossible feat, your body will thank you for your quick actions in helping it to feel as comfortable as possible.
In order to do this as quickly as possible, you’re going to want to pack spare clothes in your gear check bag. What you pack does matter and here are the 8 runDisney gear check bag essentials:
1. Dry Shirt and Sports Bra
If you only pack one thing in your gear check bag, make sure it is a dry upper body layer. For gentlemen, that means just a dry shirt will do the trick. For ladies, I recommend both a dry sports bra and a dry shirt. A wet sports bra will quickly become uncomfortable if it is chilly outside (which I find anything 60 degrees or below chilly when I’m done running). Having a dry shirt and/or sports bra for your upper body is going to help you tolerate that stiff post race walk and bus ride back to your resort.
2. Dry Shorts or Pants
Dry shorts might seem like an obvious item to throw in your runDisney gear check bag as the ones you ran in will most likely be sweaty. The main reason I’m suggesting pants in your post-race bag is once you are done running your core body temperature tends to drop and you might actually feel pretty chilly, despite the weather (even if you think I am whimpy for thinking 60 degrees is chilly). I have found a pair of pants brings along a simple and welcomed comfort after completing a runDisney event. This especially becomes true if the bus driver has the AC cranked up on the drive back to your resort. So, bring on the sweat pants! The looser the better!
3. Dry Underwear
Although this can be included in the above recommendation as it is a lower body clothing item, it deserves its own suggestion. I have routinely forgotten to bring dry underwear and had to make due with either sweaty underwear or the alternative option… Don’t forget your dry underwear! Now when you’re surveying your fellow runDisney event finishers, you know at least you won’t be walking around post race commando.
4. Sandals or Shoes
You just ran a race in Walt Disney World! (yay!) Incase you weren’t aware, Walt Disney World is located in central Florida. This translates into hot, humid weather with a good chance of a quick rain shower a majority of the time. Your shoes are either going to be soaked with sweat from your run or damp from the rain. You will want to change those puppies pronto! From personal experience I like to get my shoes off to inspect my feet and make sure no damage occurred durning my run (Think blisters, black toenails. All that pretty stuff!)
It sounds like a mild form of torture personally to try to cram my feet back into my wet running shoes. Therefore, I recommend bringing a pair of sandals or dry running shoes post run. The best kind are those that are supportive and help relieve some of the pressure of walking from your feet, such as Oofos brand shoes. They are designed to take some of the impact away from your feet. If you don’t have access to Oofos, any type of sandal with good support will work and help your feet to more quickly agree to go back to running for you again.
5. Preferred Protein Rich Snack
Following your runDisney event, especially if it is a 1/2 marathon or marathon, you should have a protein rich snack within the first 30 minutes or so of finishing. RunDisney does provide a snack box in the finish shoot, but to ensure you get a snack that you know you can eat, be sure to pack one in your bag.
A simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich will suffice, but if you’re staying on property, you might not have access to a kitchen or all the pieces that make up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Go for a protein bar like a cliff bar or Powerade bar. These travel well, can make it through airport security and are easy to throw in your gear check bag. My personal favorite is anything with peanut butter.
Congrats! You just finished your race! Now onto bigger and better things, like conquering the stairs on the runDisney bus and at your resort. (Pro-tip: They are easier to conquer by going up sideways and down backwards). The fact is, you’re going to have sore muscles, the sooner you attend to them the better. Put some Biofreeze in your bag so you can apply it after the race.
RunDisney support staff is great and typically has a medical team waiting at the finish line. Often, this team is armed with Biofreeze. On the off-chance you walk by the helpful medics, you’ll be covered if you store some extra Biofreeze in your runDisney gear check bag.
Vaseline can be multi-purpose or two-fold, being used for chapped lips or for spots that might get chaffed during the race. If you have a spot or two that you know can get irritated while running, be sure to be proactive and place a protective barrier on it before you start. Then just toss it in your gear check bag. I find that I always need to put vaseline on pretty thick on my lips due to being a ‘salty’ sweater. Once the salt from my sweat hits my lips they get super chapped. The vaseline adds a protective barrier. I am usually looking for the vaseline again, post race as odds are I’ve rubbed most of it off by the time I’ve crossed the finish line.
8. Extra Warm Clothes
Normally races in Walt Disney World are very warm at the start and you won’t need any throw off clothing items. However, there have been several events that have started with very chilly weather (even in the 20s!) and that extra set of pants you brought are more than welcomed.
If you have a really cold start, you’re going to want to throw on the extra clothes before you check your gear check bag and possibly keep them on through the first few miles. Make sure the extra clothes aren’t priceless heirlooms if you plan to pitch them along the race sidelines. Instead, visit a thrift store to find these gems or go digging into the forgotten part of our closet to find acceptable throw aways. (Bonus: Forgot to bring extra clothes from home? Visit MouseKeeping for an extra-large garbage bag. Cut holes for your arms and head and you’ll be good to go!)
When prepping your runDisney event gear check bag, be sure to use the clear bag they give you at the expo. Most of the time at races, and RunDisney is usually no exception, they require you to use the issued bag when you pickup your race packet. The main reason for this is to help keep the runners, volunteers and spectators safe. The clear bags are see through (duh), making it easy for volunteers to take a quick look over the bag and make sure nothing suspicious is in the bag. The bags are all uniform in size, making them easy to store during the race and file for pickup post race.
Bags are labeled with your race number, so in the rare chance that you’ve forgotten your name after running five billion miles (this may or may not have happened to me), you just need to show the volunteer your bib and they can locate your bag. In fact, the last few times I have done a gear check, it has been labeled with my bib number only. This makes for an easy-peasy pickup.
Most likely this is common sense, but do not put anything valuable in your gear check bag. Items of value that you might have on you during the race include any jewelry you forgot to take off, headphones you want to leave behind, a watch that you decided not to use or even your photo ID. With these items it is better to keep it on you than to have any item become misplaced in a lost gear check bag. Volunteers usually run the gear check area, so even though they mean well and do a great job, things have the potential to get lost. I’d hate for that to include anything of value.
***9: Special Treat
As an 9th and bonus suggestion in addition to the 8 runDisney gear check bag essentials, pack a special treat for the end of you race. Nothing crazy valuable, but something to help motivate you to get to the end of the race and cross that finish line. It can be anything from a favorite candy bar to a brand (new) dry shirt (that you’ve wanted for a while) to change into after the race. The ‘I Did It’ commemorative race shirts are a perfect little post-race motivator. Can’t wear the ‘I Did It’ shirt unless you finish the race!
Now go get it done!