Running relays has grown significantly over the past five years with various organizations creating new events across the United States. What’s a runner to do after finishing a 5k, 10k or marathon? Why not hop in a van with a team of 12 and run/drive/eat for over 24-hours from one town to another. Sounds logical, right? Then again, runner’s don’t always make the most logical decisions when it comes to race registration (or at least I don’t!).
Essentially you have a team of 12 runners and there are 36 legs in the race, so everyone runs three times. The team splits up into two vans of six, allowing one van to be “off-duty” for a few hours while the other van is rotating through it’s runners. One runner starts, the van drives ahead to the exchange point (stopping to cheer along the way of course) where they pick up the runner and drop the next one off. It’s like a game of tag for adults. The legs vary in distance from 3-8 miles, making relays accessible to runners of all levels. You don’t have to be a marathoner to run a relay!
In January, I had the opportunity to run Ragnar Florida Keys with 11 strangers. I imagine relays are even more fun when you actually know people on your team, but I had an absolute blast and made new friends. We stopped to eat often and even caught a few hours of sleep in the darkest hours of the night. No one encountered any reptiles, although I was quite nervous about the possibility as it was south Florida. We had many laughs, only one minor injury (tripped on gravel) and saw a gorgeous sunrise in between Marathon and Big Pine Key.
In addition to Ragnar Florida Keys event, there are a number of other relays available that strike my fancy:
Hood-to-Coast (August, OR) – Hello, it’s the granddaddy of them all!
Bourbon Chase (October, KY) – Run the Bourbon Trail (and sample some along the way). Kentucky has beautiful countryside.
Green Mountain Relay (June, VT) – Seven covered bridges; sounds picturesque.
Ragnar Napa Valley (September, CA) – The Golden Gate Bridge, wine country, and a chance to escape the humidity that smothers many of us in late summer.
American Odyssey (April, PA and DC) – Run through the nation’s history, quite literally, as you run through battlefields and monuments of DC.
Have you run a relay before? What’s your favorite part about them?
Haven’t run one? What concerns do you have?