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Destination races: planning your “race-cation”

Destination Races: planning your "race-cation" | UPMC Health Plan

Our experiences are the biggest part of our identity, and they shape us in ways we probably don’t even realize. Some of my most extraordinary moments have happened away from home while swimming, biking, or running competitively. To be honest, I’ve completed most of my races lately in bucket list cities, states, and countries. That’s because racing has been a way to really see and experience a place in a new and exciting way.

Recently, I had an opportunity to compete in Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay Philippines on my honeymoon. Some may think that’s crazy, but I got to immerse myself in the hidden gems even locals don’t get to experience. Memories added to my bucket list included swimming with mermaids (yes, they were fake), riding my bike down an airport runway (once-in-a-lifetime chance), and running with the beautiful mountain ranges beside me. I would recommend an experience like that to anyone!

Combining a race with a vacation might seem a little outside the box, but it’s becoming more and more popular. Race directors plan courses that include a city’s top sights and hidden adventures. If you’re interested in trying one of these adventures, here are some tips on getting started!

  1. Pick a destination on your bucket list, then plan the race. Your race-cation should be equal parts racing and vacationing. So first off, make sure your destination is a place you want to go. After you choose a location, you can research what options are available for races.
  1. Arrive a few days early, but save the real vacation for after the race. Prepping for a race is a ritual in itself. If you are going to a place where a lot of exploring may happen, you will need to plan accordingly. That’s why it’s sometimes easier to explore after the race is done. This allows for proper prep and less fatigue heading into the race.
  1. Pack your bags strategically! Most of us can relate to the dreaded news of lost luggage, and a race-cation is not the place to experience this. To avoid the possibility of being stranded without your race necessities, consider packing a small carry-on with the items you need for the race. This way, regardless of what happens in transit, you are ready to roll.
  1. Connect with a local race group. Depending on what type of race you are doing, there may be more involved than just running. For example, in a triathlon it’s important to check out the race course ahead of time and even ride it if you can. Linking up with a local group will allow you to jump into some of the course tours and ask important questions. 
  1. Consult the experts. There are many companies like Endurance Sports Travel and Vacation Races that specialize in getting you to the race destination and arranging lodging. This service can be very helpful, especially if you are traveling to another country.

In my opinion, destination races are less about competition and more about the location. You’re on vacation, after all!

Where will you plan your race-cation?