Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hood to Coast 2014: Packing Lessons Learned

(See separate posts about the running and non-running aspects of the experience.)

It takes a lot of stuff to do Hood to Coast!

The duffle bag is unzipped not to show what's inside,
but because it was too full to be able to zip. 

I tried to read lots of blog posts and advice about it beforehand, but I think I still ended up overpacking, and definitely didn't pack efficiently. I'm still a newbie, having only done Hood to Coast once, but here are the things I'll keep in mind for next time.

Running gear

The common advice to pack each outfit in a gallon-size ziploc bag was sound. But - keep in mind you wear your first running outfit to start in, so the third one will actually contain clean clothes (comfy, but maybe still running apparel) to wear while walking across the finish line, hanging out on the beach, and driving back home. We all wore the HTC shirts for the finish line; if you have a customized team shirt you'll probably want to wear that. 

Food & drinks

Coordinate with your vanmates as much as possible. We did this for drinks (which the firm paid for) (water and gatorade - kept a cooler full in the middle of the van with extras in the back), but didn't for food, and I think it would have been handy. We ended up sharing food anyway, but also had some unnecessary duplications (like string cheese and snack mix), and it would have been easier to have one food bag to pass around. 

Don't forgot to bring some extra bags for trash and recycling in the van! You'll also want some cash, as many schools and such set up fundraisers at exchange sites selling coffee, pancakes, or burritos. 

Sleep stuff

You'll at least want a blanket or sleeping bag for napping in a field or tent, and maybe a pillow (though I go along fine with a sweatshirt or towel balled up just fine). We brought a tarp (one for the van), intending to spread it out on ground in case it was wet, but didn't need it in the early evening when we were hanging out in a field, and in the early morning when we slept we just stayed in the van. So I'm not sure it was truly necessary, but I wouldn't rule out bringing it again just in case.

Fun stuff

I brought a pack of glow stick bracelets that I'd originally puchased for a NYE's midnight race, and those were fun on the night legs! Beyond the required reflective and lighted gear for running in the dark, any kind of blinky necklace, lightsabers, or glow sticks would add some more awesomeness.

Bring a phone or music player - some of the route is in the middle of nowhere without great radio signal (and also no cell coverage, so device-based, not internet-based, music). Don't forgot chargers for your phones, and any other devices.


Although I separated stuff in smaller bags within my duffle bag, I thought it'd be super important to make everything fit in one bag to keep by me in the van. False. It's pretty tight in a mini van with six adults, and you're stopping every hour anyway, so it's easy to grab something out of the back when you need it.

I would pack completely separate bags for 
  1. running clothes (in the back, you'll only need when stopped), 
  2. food and drinks (hopefully shared with van - see above), 
  3. running gear (i.e., lights, Garmin, shoes) (in the van, since you'll be taking them on and off throughout the day, and may need to get ready quickly and hop out to run without a chance to rummage around in the van.
  4. sleeping stuff (in the back, you'll only need when stopped).

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