It’s race morning, your stomach is full of butterflies, and all you can think about is how you’re going to get through Kiss of Mud 2.0 without losing patches of hair to barbed wire. The last thing you’re probably thinking about is what you actually need to bring to a Tough Mudder. Luckily, along with Coach and two of our Pro Team members, Hunter McIntyre and Corinna Coffin, we’ve compiled everything you’ll want to pack on event day in order to start—and finish—like a boss.
Starting a race dehydrated is akin to wearing a weight vest on a run—it makes everything harder. A lack of proper fluids makes your heart pump harder as it moves thicker blood around your body. Staying hydrated before and during your race is key to performing well. While you can often rely on on-course aid stations during the race, drinking enough water before your race begins can be trickier. Keep a stainless steel or padded glass water bottle beside your bed the night before, and aim to drink 12-16 oz. in the morning before your race begins. For a boost of freshness, try adding a squeeze of lemon or a few chunks of raw ginger to ease any queasiness you might be experiencing.
There’s nothing worse than taking off your shoes and finding blisters between your toes—until you take off your shorts and find a bright red rash between your legs. Chafing is, unfortunately, an all-too-common race injury. Applying an anti-chafe cream (I like Squirrel’s Nut Butter, but you can find a variety of choices at your local running or sporting goods store) is a must-do before beginning a race. Apply in your groin region, under bra straps, and even on your nipples to avoid finishing with blood stains (really, this can happen). Trust us: add this to your must-have gear on event day and apply it right before your race.
Your favourite sneakers probably won’t cut it for your Tough Mudder event. Why? Because they likely lack traction, protection, and drainage. Traction is necessary for events that require off-trail running and muddy conditions while, drainage is a must if you’re hoping to get through water obstacles with your shoes intact. (Of course, we like the Tough Mudder-approved Merrell All Out Crush shoe.)
After you finish your event, you’re going to want to change into clean, dry clothes and ditch your wet, dirty sneaks. Having a change of clothes and slip-on shoes or sandals can help you enjoy that hard-earned finish line beer and post-race celebrations. Add a towel to wipe down, or conveniently and discreetly change in sight of others.
Breakfast is important, but so is the food you eat before, during, and after your event. If you think you’ll be out on the course for longer than 90 minutes, plan to eat. Consuming 200-300 calories per hour, depending on your body weight, is pretty standard, but it can be helpful to eat 100 calories of easily digestible carbs 30 minutes to one hour before your Tough Mudder event begins. Post-race, aim to consume a balanced meal or snack of proteins and carbs to refuel. While most events have a bevvy of food options, always pack a few snacks to be on the safe side. Who knows when post-race hunger will strike?
Gloves are a great addition to your gear bag. Along with keeping your fingers functioning in cold water, gloves can often help you clamber up and over Pyramid Scheme or hold tight to a fellow Mudder’s hand on Everest 2.0. Look for gloves with palm and even finger padding for extra durability.
Sunburn doesn’t look good on anybody, and along with being harmful to your skin, it can create incredibly sore muscles, meaning less time recovering and training and more time wishing you had slathered some on before your event. Look for sport-specific formulations that won’t run or sting your eyes, and be sure to reapply while you’re on the course—especially if you’re going in and out of water obstacles.
You finished your race, changed out of your dirty gear and muddy shoes, and now it’s time to head back to the car. You’re not going to place your sweaty, gross gear directly into your gear bag or on the car floor, are you? Bring a garbage bag or reusable wet bag to stash your dirty gear; this way you’ll avoid having to wash your clothing and your car once you get home.
There’s nothing worse than parking, hiking down the registration tent, and realizing you forgot your ID in the car (or worse, at home) just as the volunteer asks you for it. Make sure you pack your photo ID in your gear bag the night before, along with any documents you need to have signed.
Of all the things to pack into your gear bag, this might be the cheesiest. But, there’s a real advantage to having a positive attitude out on course. Cheer on your fellow Mudders, help each other through Block Ness Monster, and thank the volunteers. Focusing nervous energy or apprehension about certain obstacles won’t help you crush the course, so smile, relax, and remember why you signed up in the first place.
Bonus: Pack your gear bag the night before! Rather than scramble in the early hours of your race morning, arrange your gear in a durable waterproof bag and sleep well, knowing you’re ready for your Tough Mudder event.