Post in collaboration with InterContinental Hotels
Planning a big city race involves logistics. Sadly, it isn’t always as simple as getting into your running kit, charging your watch and running. They become a mission in bag drops, getting to the start, getting away from the finish and often, working out where to stay. Many big races now start early and require runners to turn up before public transport can realistically get them there. Or they require you to turn up the day before for your race pack, in which case, you may as well stay overnight.
This can makes race planning stressful and expensive. It should also be planned as soon as possible – I was supposed to do the Brighton Marathon in April 2015 and had a nasty surprise in January when it turned out virtually all the hotels were booked out and the only one with availability was a 3 star, requiring over £300 for a single room, shared bathroom, no breakfast. And no, I’m not joking. For that money, I want a four poster bed, holy water, champagne and chocolates on my pillow.
So, as you start planning your race day logistics, please start thinking of accommodation if you haven’t already. Here are my tips.
Stay with a friend
The cheapest and friendliest option is to stay with a friend, if you have one in the area. They can give you the local knowledge, a bed for the night, will welcome you back in your sweaty state for a shower and no need to worry about checkout times. Hell, they’ll usually even cook for you, if you ask nicely. Pre-race prep doesn’t get friendlier than that. Take a bottle of wine to say thank you, just don’t drink it all the night before.
The cost is variable, depending on when you book, but there are usually plenty of hotel chain options around, such as Premier Inn, Travel Lodge, InterContinental Hotels and Holiday Inn. Although it can be pricey, on the plus side, there are often several other runners staying there, and chains sometimes offer pre-race pasta parties and a shuttle service if the event is especially large.
Independent hotels and B&Bs
Again, the cost can vary, but if you book far enough in advance, you can usually get decent rates. Small B&Bs may even be nice enough to do an early breakfast for you and independents can often be convinced to let you have a late checkout – always handy after a race when you need a shower!
I found a little studio flat in Brighton for £80 for a one night stay. It was more than I wanted to spend on accommodation, but it did mean that I had space to myself, somewhere to come back to and shower and the facilities to cook what I wanted to eat and when. There are also plenty of rooms available all over the country – from shared rooms to a whole house, there is something for everyone and all budgets.
Self-catering holiday park
Obviously this depends on the location, but why not hire out a mobile home for a couple of nights? If you get together with a group of runners, this can end up being a cheap option, with the benefits of cooking facilities and showers. Huzzah! Get on Twitter to find runners taking part in events looking for accommodation and make some new friends!
How far in advance do you plan your race day logistics? Any top tips for places to stay?