Destination races have long been a way to couple vacations with a bit of competition. Traveling to beautiful locales to compete in a running (or biking, or swimming … or whatever stokes your fire) race is a great way to experience a new place and meet new people. The logistics of traveling to a race can sometimes be tricky; flights, rental car, hotels, food, etc. – it can get expensive and difficult pretty quickly. But what if you could combine your lodging and your car rental? And what if you didn’t have to worry about finding a restaurant with edible food near a remote race start or finish line? Look no further! A Campervan (my personal favorite is the Escape Campervan rental) is your ultimate race-travel-mobile.
1. Simplify your travel
Campervans are small enough to park in any parking spot, and can maneuver most any roadways with ease. With van sizes to fit 2-5 people comfortably, you and your crew can travel together. Add a rooftop tent to expand your sleeping space for more people, or to keep the inside of the van clear for eating, race prepping, map reviewing, or whatever else you may need. With rental locations all over the country (conveniently located near some of the most scenic places around the US and Canada) you’re sure to find a van in close proximity to your next race. Forget about searching for hotel rooms! Most races will have campgrounds or nearby dispersed camping to take advantage of. Many races start in camping areas or have areas near the start/finish that allow camping by racers. Boom. your rental car and your lodging are set, in one convenient (and more affordable) package!
2. Good Eats
One of the more stressful aspects of destination racing is the food situation. Most athletes have very particular things they like to eat the night before and the morning of a race. The early morning start for many events also means you may not be able to find an open establishment for food/coffee in the morning. Eliminate the possibility of sub-par dining (and GI distress!) by cooking your own meals in the well equipped campervan kitchen. Trust me – this alone makes the entire campervan experience worth it. Pre-race pasta? done. Morning coffee and oatmeal in the comfort of a warm van? Yes indeed! Post race beers around the campfire? You better believe it!
3. Crew Comfort
Many people bring friends and family to their races for support (and to extend the trip into a vacation!). For people traveling to longer distance events such as ultramarathons (for the non-runners in the crowd – these are race distances longer than 26.2 miles), having a crew can be an essential (and even required) part of the race experience. The campervan can be easily driven to any trailhead or meeting point that a regular car can navigate, and gives your crew a comfortable place to eat, relax, and anxiously await your arrival. Running a race that goes through the night? Have a pacer for the late miles in a race? Your crew can easily take a nap without having to crunch themselves into the backseat of a rental car. In bad weather the van can be an absolute godsend. My husband met me at a checkpoint during a 50 mile trail running race in cold, rainy conditions. I was able to hop in the back of the warmed up van with all of my gear laid out for me on the benches and change into dry clothes, shoes, and socks and eat some soup before heading back out on the course. It. Was. GLORIOUS.
Excited now? Looking for a race to hit the road for?? FANTASTIC!! There are limitless options out there. If you know where you want to go, a quick google search for races in that area should give you a good start. Like the idea of racing somewhere new but not sure where to go? Check out sites like Ultrasignup for trail and ultra races. Vacation Races has a series of road and trail running races centered around many National Parks. Bikereg.com has… you guessed it…. mountain, road, cyclocross, and gravel bike races and events. Type “best destination races” into google and settle in for some pretty amazing slideshows.