Hannah Ebelthite and husband Wesley Doyle recently ran the TCS New York Marathon together – here’s what they learned…
Check the weather
This will inform what kit you pack to run in, and to keep warm before and after. For New York in November I packed a sleeveless vest, capris and sunglasses to run in, but took thermal over layers, a hat, gloves and neck buff for the start. And I needed them all.
Have your name printed on your T-shirt
Spectators will read it and shout out encouragement all the way round and it really makes you feel at home. I had my name on my shirt but Wesley didn’t and I think was somewhat envious – and by the end somewhat annoyed – by all the strangers yelling ‘You got this, Hannah!’ (the standard New York cheer) while seemingly ignoring him.
Pack your kit, plus extras
Before you leave the UK, lay out your kit – put it on if it helps – and check and double check you’ve got it all. Most important: trainers and sports bra. Everything else you could probably buy at your destination if needed (given time) but these essentials need to be what you’re used to. I like to be prepared for every eventuality and take two sports bras (clasps have been known to break!), two pairs of running socks (easy to mislay) and a spare pair of shoe laces. Oh and spare safety pins for your bib number.
Take your nutrition and medication with you
Even if you can get the same hydration tablets, energy gels, breakfast cereal and anti-inflammatory painkillers in the country you’re going to, you don’t want to be running round trying to find them. Take everything you need with you. Research restaurants for the night before.
Stay off your feet the day before
Running and tourism are fantastic partners – this was my first time in New York and running round the five boroughs was the perfect initiation. We stayed on for three days afterwards to do more sightseeing. But, apart from going to the race expo to pick up our bib numbers, we didn’t do much else the day before. Tempting as it is, resist walking round the sights. Take a tour on an open-top bus or boat, relax at a street café – just rest those legs.
Sort your travel to and from the race
Don’t wait till the night before the race to figure out how you’ll get there from your accommodation. Roads may be closed, trains or buses may not be running, cabs may not be able to get through. Do your research. The same goes for after the race when you’ll want a shower and rest ASAP but could find yourself wandering the streets if you don’t have a plan.
Have a race plan
It pays to know the route so, should you need to pull out early, you know how you’ll get home. Running in the UK I tend to run light, with just a few energy gels. For New York I made sure I carried my phone, credit card and a few dollars. If you’re running with someone, have a plan for if you get separated (my husband and I agreed we’d meet at the next mile marker on the left of the road – we did and it worked). If you’re running alone, have a plan for meeting fellow runners or spectators afterwards.
Learn a little local lingo – and enjoy!
It helps if you have an idea of what spectators are shouting at you. When running a marathon in Spain I had no idea what ‘Animo, animo’ meant, but I hoped for the best and smiled ‘Gracias’. Even if you’re gunning for a PB, try to soak up the views and the atmosphere and make the most of this super-efficient way to sightsee.