Relay Races are becoming more and more popular it seems. And if you
are as crazy as I am, like running you might want to do something like this. After running the Adirondack Ragnar Relay, I learned A LOT about these big races. I really had no clue what to expect going into it. Except we’ll be running. At night. A lot. SO much planning has to go into these races and thankfully this one went off without a hitch. Our team got along great and we had no big problems during the race! We didn’t even get lost. Hurray! Anyway, I’d figure I’d write up a little post with some tips in case any of you are considering running one of these crazy 200 mile relay races, whether it be Ragnar, Reach the Beach, or any other relays out there.
(Team B.A.D.- Beer & Donuts – minus one!)
When Training, Run Twice a Day
A great way to train for one of these relays is to get your legs used to running more than once in 24 hours. You will probably have three legs, which will be at least seven hours apart. Running on fatigued legs gets them prepared to run the relay race. I did this a few times before Ragnar, and I had no problem running my second leg of the race (even if it was on a sore ankle–my legs felt great!). I kind of wonder how my legs would have faired had I ran the 8 miles of my last leg, but I guess I’ll never know unless I do another one.
Study the Course Map
You want to know where you are going during your race legs, especially at night! Signs can get blown over, people can steal them–you don’t want to get stranded in the mountains with no cell reception (the last half of our Ragnar had ZERO cell service–at least on my provider). So I didn’t have any access to an online map either. I had printed out the directions of my first leg, put it in a ziplock bag and carried it with me in case I didn’t know where to go. Runners will also be sparse—the fast people ahead of me were out of sight quickly, so I was running alone most of the time. It also helps to study the course in its entirety because you’ll have to drive it with the Vans to follow the runners. You don’t want to get lost and leave your runner stranded at an exchange without van support! Thankfully our signs stayed in place so they were easy to follow!
(Our Van 2 teammates exchanging with Van 1 – Photo taken by my teammmate Allison)
Make a List of What to Pack–and Don’t Pack Too Much!
Space is limited in the vans, especially when you’re in a minivan or a Yukon like we were! Every person had a bag of gear, sleeping bags and pillows, so that’s gear x 6! I made a list. <–see the list here! We had to pack more because of the rain, but even after my friends told me to pack less, I still brought too much! I also kept my running gear in clear plastic bags so I could easily see what I wanted to put on when it came time to run. I also brought a pair of waterproof hiking boots to wear between legs so I didn’t get my running shoes wet before running. And I’m glad I brought 2 pairs of those (the first pair got soaked and were useless for the rest of the relay).
(The gear stuffed into the back of Van 2 – Photo taken by my teammate Bowden)
Invest in Safety Gear
Ragnar is HUGE on safety! They require each runner have one reflective vest for night running, a head lamp and blinking tail light or your team will be disqualified. If you are regularly a nighttime runner, you might already have these things. We were required to wear the vests at all times because of the weather, even when we weren’t running! It was pitch black when we were running through the Adirondacks at night, no street lights and no moon, so even the headlamps were dim. I brought a tiny but powerful flashlight that I got at EMS and carried it with me on my night leg so I could see the pavement. It helped a lot!
(My teammate and fellow blogger, Kristin, before her first rainy leg!)
Going into Ragnar, we all knew what we were getting ourselves into. An overnight race..run on little sleep. Its not too serious–its supposed to be fun! Despite the weather, our team managed to make the best of it. Other teams were cheering us on and all the teams were supporting each other. That’s what I loved most about the race–the team aspect! Usually running is a solitary activity–but in a team setting it was so much more fun. I’m thankful that I had a great team and an awesome captain who knew what she was doing to spend 30 hours in a van with.
(Our Van 2, nice & decorated – Photo taken by my teammate Allison)
So, does that make you want to run a Relay? I never thought in my life I’d be doing one of these things, but I’m so glad I had the chance. I’m in for next year.
Have you ever ran a relay? What did you think?