5 Tips for racing in a foreign country

by MCM Mama on July 25, 2014

When I read today’s topic “Goals” from Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney, I couldn’t come up with five things that I wan ted to talk about.  I mean, I have a few goals right now: Ragnar – finish with a smile on my face, Wisconsin half marathon – finish with a  smile on my face, this summer – survive…  Nothing particularly worth talking about.  I have a lot swirling in my head right now, but I need to focus on some non-blog related things for a bit before I can figure out what options make sense, financially and time commitment wise.  So, I picked my own topic!

International race tips


1.  Carry all of the important things on the plane with you (and when you are packing use a list or pretend to literally dress yourself for the race.). We did not lose any luggage, but one of our bags was the last one out, so I would have been completely panicked if I was waiting for something I needed for the race.  Since I tend to race in more remote areas, trying to replace a lost or forgotten item is difficult.  I used the Apera Tech bag that I was given to review and I have to say, I’m more and more in love with that bag with each trip I take.


2. Be prepared for any kind of weather and any kind of race support.  The day we got to Ireland, a storm moved in.  Not the typical light rain that Ireland is known for, but actual downpours and lots of wind.  I had arm warmers and a light windbreaker (in addition to the rain jacket I brought for day to day wear), but I didn’t have capris with me.  The thought of wearing a skirt in pouring rain and wind did not excite me.  I did get lucky and the weather moved out faster than predicted and we had a beautiful warmish day.  Which leads me to the next piece:  race support.  On this race, the water stops were plentiful and, in fact, they gave out actual water bottles.  But I never saw any sports drinks.  I should have had Gatorade or some other calorie filled drink in my handheld instead of nuun, but I hadn’t thought to brink anything like that with me.  So, word to the wise, bring options and ask questions.

3. Race near the beginning of your vacation.  This is a bit of a no-brainer.  You don’t really want to be racing after a week or two of eating whatever you please as well as hiking up castles and islands.  My quads were shot after walking down the steps on Skellig Michael. I would not have wanted to run a race the next day. You want to be able to relax and enjoy your vacation and know that you’ve successfully finished your race.

4.  But don’t race too soon after arrival.  Take your travel schedule and the time changes into account when making your plans.  I had one full day in our location to get my legs stretched out from a 7 hour flight and a 4 hour drive.  Thanks to not sleeping for 24 hours, I also was on Ireland time completely by the time of the race.  I would not have wanted to race the day before!

5. Most importantly, enjoy the race!  This is not a time to push yourself and go for a PR.  Chat with people, take pictures, absorb the scenery.  I suck at photos, so none came out, but I had a fabulous time chatting with a woman who was pushing a running stroller (I know, 13.1 miles with significant hills and a running stroller.  Yes, she did finish before me…)  I also just loved looking  around at the scenery.  Achill Island half was a gorgeous course.  We saw villages and mountains and beaches and sheep (lots of sheep)…  If I’d been pushing hard, especially towards the end, I would have missed so much.  Instead, I really got to enjoy the race and absorb all the beauty!


Have you run an international race?  What tips can you share?



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