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5 Things to Pack and Do When Running Internationally

She’s taken us hiking and now she’s taking us running … internationally! Kate Crowley is back for another adventure: running the SeaWheeze Half Marathon. Read on for why she’s doing it, how it’s going and her top tips for doing a race in another country!

A few years ago I saw an awesome photo in Runner’s World of the Vancouver Sea Wall. Little did I know I would make plans to travel to Vancouver a few times in 2015 — with one trip taken to specifically to run the ultra-exclusive SeaWheeze Half Marathon presented by Lululemon.

It’s a race I’ve wanted to do since its inception, but the timing usually coincided with a major event of a client of mine, leaving me high and dry. Until this year! The race falls slightly earlier than in past years, and I maddeningly managed to register last September. The race sold out in less than 28 minutes.

Yes, 28 minutes.

Running the race should be a cakewalk compared to the stressful registration process! The fact that I got in is a testament to my sometimes extreme preference for planning. And that brings me to things to pack and be mindful of when running an international race far from home. Although I’ve traveled for races before (hello, Alaska rainforest), SeaWheeze will be my first international half marathon. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and crowdsourcing, and here are my tips on what to pack and what to do when running an international race:


1. First, find a place to stay. Although I’m staying with a friend, if you’re traveling you should aim to find lodging near the race. Most races close streets and start early, so it’s worth shelling out extra money and planning early to take advantage of hyper localized accommodations. Other runners will be taking advantage of partner hotels so they usually fill up quick. Check out Airbnb.com and other creative options, too.

2. Buy your plane ticket and/or set up a fare alert. This is a tough one. After you’ve made it into a race, the best thing to do seems like to book your ticket and hotel. The hotel part, sure. But, you might consider setting up a fare alert for your destination if you are more than six months out from your race date. I’m glad I waited to book my ticket to see what my work schedule would be like.

3. The devil’s in the details … Things to plan for include:

  • Figure out how you will do everyday things in another country. Things like using your cell phone, eating according to any special dietary restrictions, using a hair dryer and using public transit might be different in the country you are traveling to.
  • Pack light but not too light. Think layers! DON’T check your race day outfit or your shoes. Always carry your medication and passport on you. Pack race day gels and snacks and any other must haves.
  • Check into average and extreme temperatures for the city you’re traveling to so you know what to pack and how to change.
  • Don’t plan to arrive late the night before a race, if something goes wrong with connecting flights or the weather, you’ll miss the race. Also, you want time to adjust to the weather and time zone you’ll be in. I’m breaking this rule a little due to my client load, but I’m arriving roughly 24 hours ahead of the gun! Luckily I’m in the same time zone as the race already even though I’m 1,500 miles away from Canada.
  • Tell your credit card company you’ll be traveling so you can use your cards during race weekend. Exchange currency before you get to the race to get a better rate.

4. Get some sleep the week before. Chances are you won’t get a great night’s rest the night before the race due to nerves or sleeping in a hotel, so try to get eight hours of sleep every night before the week of the race, while still in your own bed.

5. Read up on culture and research ahead of time. Respect the locals and learn as much as you can about the city you’re visiting. Do a little research ahead of time and be friendly to your local hosts. They’re there to run too and it’s their turf. Remember that you are a guest, and try to make time to sightsee, too! Since my original travel partner had to bow out, I joined a private group on Facebook that’s filled with runners like myself who have tons of questions about this unique race.

The race is just days away — and I’ll share how it went in my next post so stay tuned! In the mean time, what tips would you add for doing an international race? —Kate

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