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June 23, 2022Taking Care

Marathons are exciting for everyone involved. Serious runners may have been training for months or even years for the event. For others, running in a marathon may be a fun family event. For spectators, it’s a chance to cheer on family and friends. Volunteers also get to be part of the excitement. But the most important thing to keep in mind when organizing a marathon is safety. You will want to make sure that the path is clear and that traffic has been diverted. You will also want to make sure that runners have access to a marathon aid station. American Tent can help make sure that participants have a secure spot to access marathon drinks and rest if needed.

Different Types of Marathon Runs


Many people think that you have to be a well-trained athlete to participate in a marathon. That may be true for competitive, long distance marathons, but virtually anyone can participate. Most communities host annual marathons to raise money for local charities. For many families, these annual events, such as a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, become a treasured family tradition. People with disabilities can also be included in marathon runs if they have an able-bodied partner acting as a running aid to help them reach the finish line. In most community marathons, you can even walk if running isn’t your thing. So whether it’s a 10k, half marathon, or full marathon, virtually anyone can participate.

What Is a Marathon Aid Station?

marathon water station

So what exactly is a marathon aid station? It’s a designated space where runners can rest, rehydrate, and re-energize with healthy snacks. There should be multiple stations along the route so that runners in need don’t have to go far for help. A marathon aid station should include volunteers who are CPR-certified. Ideally, the aid station should include at least one medical professional, either a doctor or nurse, who has the training to deal with any kind of emergency. If you’re in charge of planning a marathon or part of a planning committee, this is probably the most important of all marathon items to consider. Keep reading for our marathon aid station tips.

Food to Serve at the Marathon Aid Station

One of the benefits of being a long distance runner is a very fast metabolism. That means that runners can eat a lot without gaining weight. It also makes them hungry! That’s why it’s important to have a place to refuel, such as the marathon aid station. Some healthy marathon snacks that are good for runners include:

  • Applesauce
  • Raisins
  • Dried fruit
  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Pretzels 
  • Dried cherries.
  • Saltine crackers
  • English muffin with honey.

Believe it or not, another example of ultra marathon food includes baby food! However, foods that should NOT be served at the aid station include:

  • Spicy foods
  • Dairy products
  • Fried foods.

Common Marathon Aid Station Drinks

marathon snacks

Staying hydrated is absolutely essential for the safety and stamina of runners. In fact, in addition to regular marathon aid stations, you may even want to have at least one or more separate marathon water stations. Beverages to serve at a sports water station include:

  • Water
  • Sports drinks with electrolytes
  • Diluted juice.

How Many Marathon Aid Stations Are Required?

The number of aid stations that you’ll need to plan for your marathon depends on the distance. To be safe, you should have an aid station every two miles. But every station doesn’t necessarily have to include a full medical team. You can stagger stations to include different amenities. For example, you have a water station at mile 3, water, food, and first aid at mile 5, and then just water stations for miles 7 and 9 and then continue to alternate for the remainder of the race. However, whether it’s a half or full marathon, make sure to have a marathon aid station at the finish line, since many runners will push through to the very end and be in need of hydration or other aid services. Aside from snacks and drinks, every marathon aid station should include plenty of first aid supplies. Finally, it’s extremely important for every marathon aid station to be staffed by cheerleaders to encourage and entertain runners along the way!

Best Tents for the Marathon Aid Stops

No matter how many marathon aid stations you need for your race, you’ll need a tent to provide a shady respite for exhausted runners.

Pop-Up Tents

A pop-up tent is an excellent choice for marathon aid stops. They are lightweight, quick and easy to set up and tear down, and can be easily transported. They are also relatively inexpensive compared to other types of shelters. Pop-tents are a popular choice for medical aid stops since they are sturdy and can withstand harsh weather conditions. At American Tent, our pop-up tents come in a wide variety of standard sizes and also can be customized and branded to meet your specific needs. However, the most important thing to look for when choosing a pop-up tent is quality to ensure your investment will last.

Frame Tents  

Frame tents are also a good choice since they do not need to be staked into the ground and do not have a center pole. And because they don’t have a center pole, frame tents maximize the amount of usable space in a marathon aid station. They are often a good choice for city marathons that lack green space since frame tents can be used on a variety of surfaces by using Giffy Ballasts for weight and support. And, like pop-up tents, our frame tents come in nearly any size you may need and can be customized for your event.


Marathon planning is a big responsibility. You may have hundreds, or even thousands, of attendees. Of course, the safety of the runners and attendees is of utmost importance. But, if you pace yourself with proper planning, you can ensure the marathon is a success. Just remember to pace yourself and take the time necessary to plan appropriate marathon aid station stops. When it comes to choosing shelter, we have a huge tent selection to choose from. Our team will work with you to create the exact size and style of tent you need for your marathon. Don’t hesitate to contact us for help!

Tony Ehrbar's headshot

Tony Ehrbar

Owner & CEO

Tony's entrepreneurial spirit is woven into the fabric of American Tent (an Inc 5000 company), shaped by his experience running a successful event venue & tent rental service. His recognition as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 is a testament to his impact & dedication to his community. As the Co-founder and CEO of Renegade Plastics, Tony is leading initiatives in the tent industry to integrate eco-friendly, recyclable materials. Contributing as a board member for the Advanced Textiles Association (ATA) & the Green Bay Area Public Schools Foundation and being featured by Entrepreneur, Oracle, & Modern Weddings, Tony plays a pivotal role in enhancing the growth and success of the textile industry.

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