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Pre-Race Checklist

Here’s a Pre-Race Checklist you can read or print out (see PDF download at the bottom) to help you be prepared for your upcoming races.

Race plans aim to narrow your focus, reduce stress and uncertainty, and minimize distractions to optimize your ability to paddle at the moment and focus on the process rather than the outcome. Flat water races lend themselves to race plans more than ocean races, as the ocean is less predictable, but you can certainly attempt to plan your start, pacing, and technical cues or reminders to use at certain points on the course.  Similarly, you should be able to have a plan for your hydration and nutrition.  Good planning leaves less to chance which is always a good thing.

While having a race plan is important, it is equally important to be flexible.  Races are dynamic and unpredictable; anything can happen in the ocean. Don’t expect your race to unfold as planned.  But be confident that your planning leaves you better prepared to deal with the unpredictable.


  • Where are you staying in relation to the course?
  • How do you get to the course from where you are staying?
  • How long will it take you in morning traffic?
  • What time and where is registration? How do you get there, and how long will you stay?
  • What time do you want to be settled in your accommodation?
  • What time do you plan to go to bed?
  • Are there any technical/equipment issues you need to deal with?
  • Do you know where all of your equipment is?  Is it all in good working order?


  • What time are you planning to wake up?
  • What time and where are you going to eat breakfast?
  • What are you going to have for breakfast?
  • Are you having a morning shower?  If so, when and how long?
  • Is all your equipment ready?  Recheck this to put your mind at ease.
  • Where will you park?  (Leave a generous amount of time for parking)
  • Are you doing a pre-warm-up (going out and coming back in before the race)? If so, what?  How long?
  • What time is the racer’s meeting?
  • What will your race warm-up be? When and how long?
  • Where do you want to start?
  • What are you planning to wear for your race?


  • Beach or water?
  • If beach, check the beach in front of you for holes/rocks.
  • Where to line up? Who to be beside?  
  • What line to the first buoy?
  • How long do you sprint?  When do you transition to race pace?


  • Do you have a plan to work together with anyone?
  • How long do you want to lead for each lead?
  • When should you leave the train and set your own pace?


  • What is the target pace you want to try to sustain? Stroke rate? Speed?


  • Where on the course do you want to pick up the pace?
  • Is there a spot on the course where conditions will allow you to relax without losing speed
  • What is your plan for the tide/wind?  Close to shore or in the middle


  • What is your hydration and nutrition plan?
  • How often do you plan to hydrate? 
  • When do you take your first drink?
  • When do you eat (if applicable)


  • What are your technical cues (reminders)?  Where/how often will you use them?


  • When do you plan to start your finishing kick?
  • What is your target stroke rate/pace?

Good luck!!!

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