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9 Helpful Tips for Your First Charity Race

Now that summer is mostly behind us and cooler temperatures are starting to drift in, the prime season for charity runs and walks begins. People of all abilities lace up their running and walking shoes and hit the pavement to raise money for many great charitable causes. If you’re a first-time race participant, you’re bound to have questions. Below are a few tips I've accumulated after running more than 60 races.

Dress for the Occasion
It is very important to overdress or underdress for your race. Most new runners will tend to overdress, which is usually worse than being underdressed. The reason? As you begin running, your core body temperature will begin to rise. In addition, you're contending with the ambient temperature, humidity levels, radiant heat from the running surface (usually asphalt), and direct sunlight. Many experts advise runners to dress as though it were 20 degrees warmer than the actual air temperature. For example, if the temperature at race time is 60 degrees, dress as though the temperature is 80 degrees. You may need to wear a jacket prior to the race (see "Pack Your Bag" below) if temperatures are cool, but be sure to remove it before lining up.

Pack Your Bag
Below is a list of many items you may wish to put in your running bag. Obviously, you won't run with all of these items, but they'll be helpful before and after your race. Feel free to include any additional items you may need before, during, or after your race. You can return your bag to your car or leave it with family and friends who are not participating in the event.

Your bib number (if picked up in advance) and four safety pins to secure it to your shirt
Jacket and/or pants
Dry change of clothing
Hand sanitizer (for use after the portable toilets)
Post-run snack

Carry Your ID
Always carry identification with you—even if you are participating with a friend or family member. Many walkers prefer to carry their IDs in a fanny pack (worn around the waist), while many runners prefer to wear popular bracelets or shoe tags (such as Road ID). Your identification should include your name, emergency contacts, and other essential information, such as drug allergies or pre-existing medical conditions. As a last resort, you can simply write your emergency contact information on the back of your bib or a piece of paper in your pocket. If you carry a cell phone, make sure you have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) entry in your cell phone address book. Emergency personnel are trained to look for that listing in cell phones.

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