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We enjoyed a recent experience in Tamarindo Costa Rica, traveling internationally to compete in a Marathon. It brought to mind some old lessons but we learned some valuable new ones too. These experiences can help in any competitions but especially for long endurance challenges like Ironman, Marathons and Cycling. Prepare well, enjoy your sport and especially the destination and be ready to have fun.
From our experience it is really necessary to bring a friend along. Besides having someone to compete with you or cheer you on, it takes a lot of the mental pressure away, someone to assist you after the race, drive you back to the hotel, accompany you to the hospital if need be. Race staff will always be there to help, but a friend knows what medical conditions you may have.
This may seem basic, but consider the fact you are not competing at home. How does your insurance work abroad? What nearby hospital would you prefer to be taken to? Even basic logistics like where you can park, is it safe to leave your rental car there while you race. Many competitions shut down towns and cities so it is necessary to know where you can get in and out. Roads in some cases might be shut down for most of the day, so be sure you don’t get stuck at the race venue.
Everyone has their different ways of meal preparation, sleep and hydration but overall they are founded on prudent principles of bodily care. Don’t skip out on any of your pre competition routines, and better yet, follow them even more closely. We once had the unfortunate experience of passing out after a race because of poor planning, early arrival and the aftermath was unpleasant and could have been avoided.
Always have an emergency contact number on you when you compete but especially when competing abroad. Should you be far from where you are expected, how will your contact know where you are? Carry some cash as well in case you were to get stranded or would need some assistance getting back. In our personal experience of having a medical incident racing abroad, having contact info made communication instant and saved much time and energy.
In short, respect the fact that you are out of your normal element, give your best effort and be sure to actually enjoy the new environment and scenery in which you are competing.