This post has taken me a bit longer to produce than I expected due in part to some holiday traveling, but primarily due to a shift in my focus. Originally, I had been thinking about making this list about stuff that you might forget for a race, but I realized that everyone's routines and gear lists are going to be different so I decided instead to look more at some things to think about when you're going to do a race, particularly in the often dreary weather of winter. People who have run a few races in the past probably know all this, but if you're thinking about that first 5k or something similar, you may find something useful to think about.
1. Your Normal Running Routine
The first place to start thinking about what you need for a race is what you need for your usual runs. Countless things I've read confirm that you want to have your racing situation as similar as possible to your training situation. This is also an easy aspect to overlook because you get hyped up about a race and get caught up enough in the pre-race jitters that you forget things you normally have around for your training. Think about your running attire and any keys or GPS gear kinds of stuff that you might use. I've forgotten my towel and other borderline necessities when I'm gearing up for The Bear and that makes for an unpleasant stretch of running at times.
2. Race Specific Gear
You don't fall out of the house and onto the start line. In most cases, you'll be driving a little ways to get where you're racing and then may be standing around for a bit. Depending on the season and weather, you might need sunscreen, warmup clothes, or some extra hydration. When I ran on Thanksgiving, I was a bit underdressed to be standing around in cold and rainy conditions for 20 minutes before the race started. Once I got to running, I warmed up just fine, but I definitely could have used some thicker gloves and maybe a heavier shirt or wind breaker to ease my wait time. Also be sure you check to make sure you've got all the necessary check in items and things of that nature. Forgetting to have the right stuff could keep you from running or from getting an accurate time if the race is using a chip timer or something of that nature.
3. Recovery Items
This is another aspect that I forget and take for granted sometimes since my recovery items are at the house when I'm training, but when I'm getting my stuff together for a race, I easily forget to take some extra water or protein powder with me. Believe it or not, I have forgotten on multiple occasions to bring a change of dry clothes which is a grievous error when it's below 40 degrees and raining so if I can help remind one person to have a dry change for after a race with this post, I'll consider myself accomplished. You might want to take a blanket as well or a foam roller to
4. Stuff You DON'T Need
Be sure to think about your contingency plan for things you don't need to have with you while you run as well; this can have as much or more effect than not having what you need. I usually wear my glasses for driving, but I never run in them so naturally I wound up at the start line with my glasses on and fumbling around with gloves on trying to figure out how I was going to keep from breaking my only pair of glasses while I'm running. If you're taking some warmup pants or a jacket, think about what you'll do with those if you don't want to run in them. Some races will have a van or something to take your gear from the start line to the finish so you don't have to worry as much about how to transport your stuff, but it's definitely something to be cognizant of.
I'm sure even now, I'm forgetting to include things on this list so if you think of something I've forgotten or something you have forgotten in the past that you want to remind others of, email me or post it in the comments below; I'd love to get some different perspectives on this subject because I'm still refining my race routine as well!