Essential Marathon Gear

Which items are worth carrying with you during your next marathon?

The climate and terrain of each race is different, and so is the marathon gear you should bring along. Some courses are fast and flat, while others take you up and down mountain peaks or across desserts. From the bare necessities appropriate for every race, to some more specific items useful in extreme conditions, here's the gear runners should consider carrying for 26.2 miles.

Safety, Comfort and Convenience

Fuel and Fluids

Even relatively flat marathons are still 26.2 miles long, which means you'll be out on the race course for hours. Rather than rely on aid stations to replenish lost fluids and empty glycogen stores, you may benefit from carrying your own supply of fluids and fuel. This not only ensures it'll be there when you really need it, but it can also help you avoid an upset stomach because you've practiced with them in training.


While not absolutely necessary, many runners would sooner stay home than race without their GPS tracker or a play list of motivational tunes. Luckily, many mobile and wearable devices can serve both purposes, cutting down on the amount of physical items runners need to carry in order to enjoy these conveniences.

First Aid and Sun Protection

Water stations are plentiful along most race courses, but medical aid stations are not as prevalent. Fortunately, it's easy to carry everything you're most likely to need for minor medical relief. Small packets of pain reliever, plastic bandages, blister guards, sun screen, a hat or visor and SPF lip balm are all small, lightweight items that offer relief or protection from the most common minor race ailments.

For Rougher Terrain and Weather Conditions

For those races that have you traversing mountains, deserts or streams, or in those cases where you're running in very hot and humid or cold and wet weather, some extra marathon gear may in fact be essential. Protecting your feet could be as simple as bringing extra socks to change into after yours are soaked through. Layering can help keep you warm when the temperature drops, and a lightweight rain poncho or waterproof shell will keep you dry. Finally, trekking poles can help reduce knee stress tremendously, especially when going downhill on mountainous courses.

Bands, Belts and Backpacks

Bands and Belts

Armbands are perfect for carrying your mobile phone or music device. Fuel and fluid belts are specifically designed to carry water and gels or other fuel securely around your waist, and lightweight, slim waist packs are perfect for first aid items and that extra pair of socks.

All-In-One Backpacks

If conditions demand more gear, then consider carrying yours in a bag or backpack. All-in-one models have compartments, pockets or straps designed to carry water, food, clothing and even those trekking poles.

Tailoring your marathon gear list to race and weather conditions can help guarantee you'll have a safe and positive experience.

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Rashelle Brown is a freelance writer primarily covering topics of health, wellness and fitness. Her work has appeared in IDEA Fitness Journal, and she contributes regularly to, and the PBS website She is also the founder of Well Curated Life, a website dedicated to helping individuals live healthy, happy lives


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