This Marathon Life

by a passionately stubborn runner

What are drop bags?

Aid station tent at a race with drog bags.

If you’ve ever heard of ultramarathons or runners talking about them then you might have heard the words “drop bags”. What the heck are they? Well, lets go over that and lets dig into what I pack in mine.

Drop bags are your stuff that you put inside some sort of container and leave at the start/finish area of race or give to the race staff to have them place along the course at a designated area. The idea is that in an ultramarathon you may need certain items that the aid stations don’t stock and by putting them in a container and having it placed at a certain part of the course you then have access to those things. The container can be a duffel bag, tote or whatever you want it to be. I use a small plastic container with a plastic lid that has two clasps on the side. Recently, I switched to a container of the same dimensions but it has side plastic handles instead of a top rubber strap to carry it by. At my last 50miler the rubber strap broke and it really sucked having to pick up all my stuff off the ground after running 50miles.I highly suggest you get a plastic container vs. some sort of fabric based bag. Every ultramarathon race I have run to date has had rain or snow coming down. The last race - I went to pickup my box afterwards and it was sitting in a pool of water in the tent.

The kinds of things I put in my drop bag or I guess I should say “box” are; motrin, extra batteries for my headlamp and hr monitor, nutrition supplies, sunblock, anti-chaffing stuff, nuun, bug spray, hand warmers if it’s going to be anywhere near 60F or less(you never know what can happen with the weather), protein bars for after the race, sunglasses, marker(in case they require the box to be marked in some sort of way) and an extra pair of shoes and socks, rain jacket, extra leggings/shorts depending on the weather and comfy clothes to wear after the race. Below is a pic of some of the stuff I emptied from my box from my most recent 50miler.

Running supplies from a drop box; anti-chaffing, nuun, bug spray, sunblock, hand warmers, clif bars, clif gels, protein bar.

Basically pack your box with stuff you need before the race, extra supplies for during the race, supplies for “worst case scenarios” and stuff for after the race. It’s a relief knowing that you have an extra pair of shoes waiting for you if you end up having a shoe malfunction. It’s worth mentioning that some races allow multiple drop bags. Take care to plan out what things you want to put in what bags. Don’t pack your post race sweatpants in the drop bag that isn’t going to be at the finish because that would suck…not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.:wink:

Written on August 27, 2016