Running and living in a van

In 2 weeks I will be embarking on my 3rd Ragnar adventure and with the help of many other experienced runners complied the following list of our best tips...

Plan a meet up(s) before the race. You will get to know your vanmates very well but the other van not so much. We have done dinners and training runs together.

Start a Facebook group for your team to share ideas and easily communicate and not clog up emails.

Get creative on team gear: costumes, name, van decorations, etc.

Be honest on your running pace. Know that you may slow on night legs or in the afternoon heat.

Train with a few double days and a night run.

Pack 3 separate outfits in ziplock bags: shorts, shirt, socks, bra. This way it is all together and when you change the dirty clothes can be sealed in the bag too! Have sweats and a comfy outfit for in between, plan for all weather (rain, cold, heat) since you will be running day and night.

Make a list of needed items: bug spray, sunscreen, TP, coolers, water jugs, etc and split them up so your van isn’t stuck with 6 bottles of sunscreen and no cooler.

Have enough vest and lights for each person, Who wants to put on a sweaty vest or headlamp?!

Don’t pack for being stranded for a week! We have always ended up with twice as much food as we needed! Bring community food and to share: fruits, veggies, drinks, granola bars, send 1 person to shop to avoid excess. There will be places to stop and shop or eat on the course.

Bring a towel. Many major stops offer showers. Many runners bring baby wipes, but I have never used these.

Either mini-vans or passenger vans work, I have done both. The other question which can go either way: driver or no driver? Well that adds an extra person but does take away the responsibility of driving from the runners. Also think about who can drive and insurance concerns especially if renting.

Phone chargers are a must! But know that cell coverage may be lacking in some areas so have a back up plan for communicating!

Decorate and be creative. Make your van easy to spot for the runners.

They will stink by the end!

Be understanding of what lack of sleep can do to others! The conversations will get strange and there will be unexplained bouts of laughter.

Sleep when you can! Leave the big bulky sleeping bag at home! A yoga mat and blanket work great for sleeping just about anywhere.

Know your legs, write down directions if It is confusing and be aware of signs.

Get to exchanges early in case the next runner is ahead.

Use a race belt, it eliminates losing race bibs and no need to re-pin.

Have fun J

Have you run a relay? What other great tips do you have to share?

And now for my announcement! I have been asked to write for Everyday Glow and share my running knowledge for training plans and a series of articles...Here is the first on Speedwork and taking the fear out of improving your pace. Check it out and share. 


  1. I've never done a relay...someday, I hope. Have fun!!

  2. I've never done a relay but really want to one day! Have a great time! And congrats on the new writing venture! :-)

    1. Thanks Mindy, I'm excited to write more on running :)

  3. Great list! Have fun. I hate that sign too and finally had my way with it on my second ragnar. Baby wipes are always helpful for the ever fantastic van shower. I've always run as an Ultra team so we don't get time for real showers. Also, glow in the dark flare makes night running and van time more exciting. Oh, and a mini bottle of febreeze esp if you have boys on your team!

    1. No boys but yes on the febreeze! Flares would be fun :)

  4. Great tips!!
    I'm hoping to do one of the big relays one day!!
    Have fun!!

  5. Ragnar sounds a lot of fun - looking forward to hearing your story!
    Great article on speedwork too!

  6. Ragnar is on my bucket list! One day!

    Great tips.

  7. I did Ragnar Del Sol in February and it was a blast! We were total newbies to it and didn't wear costumes, and next time we definitely will! Have a great time.

    1. My first Ragnar was much more laid back each time it gets crazier!

  8. Wow packing everything in separate plastic bags is a great idea! Keep your dirty clothes as far away from the clean ones as possible. Can't wait to hear all about Ragnar!

    1. That was the best tip shared with me for my first race, works so well!

  9. I've never done a relay, but I really want to!!

    1. Such a fun and different experience :)


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