What to expect at my first half marathon...

Hi all, I have my first half marathon in March 2013 and I wondered if anyone could talk me through what to expect on the day? What is the usual procedure with regards to turning up, where to go and what to do, getting your chip, how to find your start position, etc?

Also, any advice like what to take with me, are there sports drink/gel stations or just water stations regularly aroud a half course, that kind of thing?

Any advice would be welcome please!! Thanks image



  • All these details will be in your race instructions that you get sent nearer the time.

    Most likely you will get your chip sent to you too.
  • Hi Bikerbabe! That's really exciting! I did my first half marathons this year - Bristol and Reading!

    First things first .. With all the lead up etc my brain wasn't working on the day so I was really glad I'd laid all my gear, gels, bus passes, chip on shoes etc out the night before! Definitely worth doing!

    With regards to procedure, each one is different but you usually have your number before so you don't have to sign in on the day so you can just turn up. I'd be AT LEAST an hour early in case of delays in traffic, queues at baggage etc. Chips are usually sent out with numbers beforehand but if yours haven't been, then be extra early in case there's an hour queue.

    There will usually be a baggage lorry where you can drop kit you won't need during the race such as the warm coat you took with (take a warm coat/top - you'll be freezing and nervous before the start!), car keys etc.

    Definitely take a bin bag. When you've left your warm top at the baggage drop you'll be cold and a bin bag keeps the heat in and you can dispose if it at the start. You'll look silly but practically EVERYONE will be wearing one. I promise image

    Start pens should be clearly marked. They're usually in expected finish times (suc as 2:00, 1:50 etc) or number colours or in pace times (9 min/mile etc). If not grab a marshal - there will be loads around to help you.

    You should get a course map or race info with your race pack telling you where the water stations and gel / sports drink stations are which will help you plan what to take. However, don't rely on them having what you need - they may run out! better to take what you need if you can carry it! And definitely don't try any new gels on the day ... otherwise a combination of nerves and unexpected sugar can cause dramatic tummy upsets!

    Hope this helps! Good luck! Let us know how you get on!! image

  • Jeez - essay. Sorry!image

  • Oh ok, thanks Cougie. I'm just getting a bit excited already, thats all image

  • Thanks RunnyRunRun thats wicked, just what I was looking for! I am so excited already and I haven't even started my 12 week training plan yet, that starts on boxing day so in the mean time I am re-doing a 5K plan to up my mileage! image

  • Bikerbabe what halfmarathon are you running in march?
  • Good luck Bikerbabe! I loved doing the half marathons as unlike 5ks you can pace yourself and go steady and take in the scenery and soak up the atmosphere. 5 - 10ks I never seem to notice much going on around me as I'm holding on for dear life! image

  • Tee hee well I will definately be on a go slow! I am more a plodder than a speed freak! Thanks Runny image

    Ringo I am doing the Reading Half on 17th March image 

  • Hi Bikerbabe


  • At the risk of lowering the tone, I would recommend bringing some spare toilet paper for when the portaloos run out.

  • Haven't run that one but it rates highly. Runny run has just about covered it. I ran my first 4 years ago and have run about 50 or so now. I would focus on getting there early as toilets are always busy. It's normal on your first to get caught up in the excitement,but try not to set off to early you want to finish it comfortably not on your last legs. Train well and raceday will be more enjoyable. Also don't forget the end of race. Stretch,rehydrate,eat recover and reminisce about what you have achieved. Hopefully you will love it.crossing the finish line at half or full marathons is one the best feelings in the world and sadly addictive. Good luck
  • i asssume uve had sports gels previously ??


  • Good advice from literatin. Dress appropriately for hot or cold weather. I ran bath half in march and it was one of the hottest runs of the year in 2010 I ran it and it was like running in the North Pole. Protect any area you might chafe or blister in. There is plenty of wise and inspirational people on the forum none more so than micknphil
  • lots to expect and prepare for

    if ONLY i knew then what i know now image 

  • Hi Micknphil image

    Literatin - sounds like good advice!

    Yep, have a variety of clothing now (thats adictive too!) so will dress for the weather... am currently researching nipple rub prevention (lowering the tone again!) as its not nice!!!

    Sports gels, nope! Only sports drinks so far as I haven't yet run long enough to warrant needing a gel, but as my running time increases I will try one or two and see how I get on... I understand some runners carry a few jelly beans with them instead of gels, right??

    Thanks guys n gals for all the advice!! image

  • one golden rule if i may advise

    never try anything new on race day - or the last few days biuld up to it

    myself - i would'nt - not even now

  • Yep, i have read that so many times... stick to what you are used to and what is comfortable... good advice and it makes perfect sense!!

  • plenty of time inbetween race to experiment


  • You don't need gels for that distance.

    That's one less problem to worry about.
  • Ok, stick with sports drinks then!

  • Cougie

    gels are something ive never been able to hold down

    lucozade and sports drinks also leave me feeling yukky

  • I've been using those tablets you dissolve in a bottle of water and they are nice, and not fizzy which is good as i don't really like fizzy drinks

  • good - as long as it works for you image

  • Lucozade jelly beans are nice. I use simple Vaseline or lanacaine anti chaffing gel. I also put some compede plasters over the areas of the foot which might get blisters. I also put a bit of Vaseline on my eyebrow seems to stop sweat getting in your eyes. After the race there may or may not be showers. I always bring baby wipes to have quick clean and I put on compression socks as I find I recover well.i uses sis gels and they do a nice belt that holds gels and has a pouch for car keys
  • I have loads of vaseline - i swear bit it image

    though to stop sweat ( or most of it ) getting in or nr my eyes , i wear a cap

  • Double tie your laces. Always smile when you see a camera person. Write your name on your top or your number. Chester half and marathon had your name attached and it is really motivating to hear people shouting personal encouragement
  • Have some food ready in your bag for afterwards. I typically bring two flasks one with coffee in and another to keep a protein drink in. Plus crisps bloody love em after a run
  • ringo

    your making me hungary

  • Having my last munch before tomorrow's turkey trott half
Sign In or Register to comment.