• Jessica Stough

Prepping for Relay Iowa - Runcation Packing List

“Running is about finding your inner peace, and so is a life well lived.” – Dean Karnazes

I haven’t asked around a lot, but imagine if I did, there wouldn’t be a lot of people that have said they’ve taken a trip just to go run. Of course, there are those running weirdos that would say they have – but according to livestrong, “only about 0.1% of the U.S. population (about 328,200 people) races” – so it’s not a lot of people. If a person were to take that .1% of the population and then ask those people who has traveled for a race or event, the numbers would be even more slim.


That being said, I am one of those weirdos. Last year, I participated in my very first Relay Iowa event, and this weekend, I plan to do so again. I will travel across the state of Iowa with eleven other runners just as crazy as I am over the course of a weekend – taking turns to run the entire state all by foot. We will race against other teams of crazy runners, all working to get to Dubuque for a delicious post-race feast before heading back home.

Source: Relay Iowa


As some avid readers may remember, I have previously created and shared a vacation packing list, which does include some running gear. However, a relay race vacation is quite a bit different than a typical vacation. I figured while I prepare for my trip this weekend, I might as well share some tips and tricks that I was taught or have learned along the way. I know that not everyone who follows the blog will benefit from this, but do know that a small niche of people definitely will – so for those that are not interested in relay running vacations, just hang in there.


To start, Relay Iowa actually provides their own list of suggested items, which proves to be a very good start:


Relay Iowa Suggested Packing List


  • MANDATORY: Two reflective vests per team

  • MANDATORY: Two headlamps & two LED tail lights per team

  • Food

  • Water/Gatorade

  • Cooler

  • Cell phones & chargers

  • First Aid Kit (ice pack, blister treatment, bandages, pain relief)

  • Cash & credit card

  • Clothes for layering

  • Rain gear

  • Reflective tape/gear

  • Flashlights & batteries

  • Pepper spray

  • Extra bag for dirty clothes

  • Towels

  • Toiletries

  • Camping supplies


Their list is really helpful, but I have also learned of a few additional items that can be really helpful. In typical Jessica fashion, I created a fun checklist:

I am a last-minute packer. Although I will be leaving my house before 3 AM Friday morning to get to the starting line with my team on time, I will absolutely not be packing a single thing until tomorrow afternoon. I don’t mean to be that way (I don’t think), but tend to work well under pressure – and also need to make sure that absolutely all of my laundry is clean and ready to choose from before a trip.


Don’t get things twisted, though. Just because I wait to get all of my gear situated in a bag until the last minute doesn’t mean that I haven’t already started getting some things together. For example, I have all of my snacks sitting on the counter ready to go (except for bananas – those have to wait to be the perfect ripeness!). I listed snacks, but what runcation packing list is truly complete without a breakdown of running snacks?


Snacks Packing List



Now, the challenge is not to run the relay race, but to have to stare at my snacks for another 24 hours before I can eat them. I already accidentally started eating the Oatmeal Creme Pies. No one is allowed to judge me, as I probably needed it for pre-fuel.


Anyway, for those that are interested in relay races, there are many more out there than just Relay Iowa. A very popular set of relay races is called Ragnar, which has both road races and trail races.


Relay Races to Check Out



There are so many other races out there to look into that are not relays as well. If there is a place nice enough to be on a travel bucket list, it probably also has a great race or two to choose from in the area. I have never planned trips around races, but have planned races after we’ve decided on dates for trips. However, I know plenty of people that primarily go on runcations who do choose their trips based on the races they’ve signed up for. The best part is that there are races and places out there for anyone and everyone that has interest in them!


Now, it is most definitely past my bedtime, but I’ll leave my readers for the evening with a fun fact about running: “[t]he treadmill was originally designed for English prisons as a tool for punishment.” For those of you that think runners are crazy, you are absolutely right. Feel free to read about that (and more about our crazy antics) at 52 Running Facts That You Should Know | Fact Retriever.


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