Marathons are one of the most grueling challenges for runners. These events tax the body for nutrients, water and oxygen at rates so extreme, most runners are in a state of severe exhaustion upon completion of the 26.2 mile distance. If you're looking to conquer this running challenge, using a waist pack for carrying essentials can improve your experience.
Waist Pack Sizes
The best waist pack for your marathon run will be sized appropriately for what you intend to carry. Different runners have different ideas on what is "essential" for a long-distance run, and the support available for you during a marathon can affect what you decide to carry. For some runners, a small waist pack for your ID and a few gel packs is enough to get you through the race. Others prefer packs that can carry a cell phone, GPS unit, water bottle, wind jacket or energy bar, requiring more space and better support to prevent bouncing.
Running Pack Essentials
Waist packs designed for runners almost always have a few key features, regardless of size. A good marathon waist pack features reflective elements that improve visibility during races that extend into dusk or dawn. This can be crucial in races with support vehicles. These waist packs also often feature wide, flexible belts that conform to your hips, which provides a more secure fit for your essential gear. A bouncing hip pack can throw your rhythm or chafe uncomfortably, so make sure there's no movement.
Many waist packs produced for marathon runners and long-distance adventure runners feature holsters for water bottles or horizontal water bladders for hydration. These packs are especially useful in races with minimal support, where runners need to provide some of their own essentials like water for some sections of the race. The best hydration waist packs have great support, since the extra weight of water can be especially hard to keep from bouncing during a run.
Runners often pair with designers when producing waist packs to integrate features that are intuitive and useful during a run. Small mesh pockets on the outside of the pack can provide an easy place to store the wrapper from a used energy bar or energy gel after use, and a small I.D. tag secured to the belt provides a bit more safety and reassurance in the event of an accident. For marathon runners, a secure fit should take precedence over any other feature, but these little extras can improve your comfort.
Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at MaxTheCyclist.com.