If you’re not new to running then you probably already know what a gear check bag is. If you’re new to running or haven’t raced much then you might still be wondering – what on earth is a gear check bag?
A gear check bag (or drop bag) is usually a plastic bag tethered to your bib number that is used to store your valuables for post-race activities while you’re physically running a race.
When you sign up for a big race such as a half or full marathon you’ll likely need a location to safely store your valuables and post-race necessities. Basically, a gear check bag is a type of trash bag or plastic bag offered by the race to store your gear and valuables while you are on the racecourse. Your bag is identified by a bib number. The bib usually has tear-off squares at the bottom for post-race activities such as finisher shirt pickup, beer tickets, and gear check bib id.
It is designed for runners and athletes to store their essential items in an overall organized manner for the race volunteers to retrieve quickly. It’s silly to assume that runners should carry all of their items with them during the physical race. This is why the bag is made available to them before and after the race. Gear check bags are extremely helpful to runners who don’t have a car near the finish line. It can store anything that might be needed for post-race comfort or activities.
Most of your 5k and 10k races do not have gear bag checks basically because the races are over so quickly that there is no need to store a large number of valuables. Also, the runners really don’t need a change of clothes, extra protein bars, and a high volume of liquids to rehydrate after the shorter races.
The gear bag checks are most common with the marathon and ultra-marathon races. However, some half marathon races offer bag checks simply because there is also a marathon or ultra-marathon being run on the same course.
Some races will give you the gear check bag during your packet pickup. Sometimes these gear check bags are also used to loot the swag from the race expos that go on a few days before the actual race. There is a gear check bag pick up area where you can collect your gear check bag or drop bag. The bag check area who kept your bag and noted your number will return the gear check bag to you on the basis of the number they allotted to you.
The items that you’ll want to place in your gear check bag are things you’ll need for your post-race activities which are cooling down, light stretching, and recovery. below is the list of the essentials that you should keep in your gear check bag.
We’ve talked about the things to keep in a gear check bag but there are certain things that you shouldn’t carry in the bag. I have listed down all those things that you should not keep. Your bag might get lost so I would advise you to not keep things that you cannot replace. You would not want your documents to get lost. So it is advised to not keep them in the drop bag. The list of materials and things that you shouldn’t carry in your drop bag is as follows:
While there is no wrong or right way to use a gear back these simple steps will walk you through what to expect when arriving at the race:
place all of your items you’ll be needing for the post-race.
You don’t want your bag to be placed in the heaping pile of UBGs (Unidentified Gear Bags)
Place all of your items in your identified (fourth check on the Bib ID) gear check bag about 20 minutes before the race. If you’ve worn an extra layer of clothes to keep warm, it’s time to tuck these away in your cozy bag.
You’ll see signage at the race clearly defined as the Gear Check or Bag Drop Area. If you can’t find the area, ask a volunteer. Hand your bag that has your bib Id labeled on it or attached to it to the volunteer working the bag drop area.
The volunteers gather all of the gear check bags, from multiple drop points, and place them in the gear bag pickup area. They will spend some time trying to organize the bags based on bib numbers, but trust me it’s never perfect and these are volunteers so please be grateful that they are there helping you.
Go back to the area where you dropped off your bag and claim your prize – in this case, your valuables.
A big yes! You need to keep a gear check bag with you because it’s important and useful for runners and athletes. They are just so awesome and helpful for everyone. You cannot keep everything you want but you can keep everything you need in a gear check bag. You need a gear check bag because you can not keep the things you need in your hands or pocket as they are a lot. For keeping your belongings and necessities safe and secure, you need a bag and that bag is a gear check bag or drop bag. All you have to do is collect a gear check bag and they’ll assign you a number for that, for identification purpose. And when you’ll finish the race you’ll get it right in your hands.
If you’re really not looking forward to standing in line after the race to get your gear, then you’ve got several other options:
For an extensive list of what you should bring for a half marathon or marathon race checkout this post – Race checklist.