6 Steps to a Fun and Successful Relay Race

Epic Northwest relay races, like the 50-mile Rainier to Ruston Relay or the 200-mile Hood to Coast, may have gone virtual in 2020, but they’ll come back. And when they do, there’s a lot you can do to ensure you and your team will have a successful and memorable run – even if you get stuck in traffic, lose sleep or get just a touch edgy after being in a van with the same smelly people for 24 never-ending hours.

Here are some tips for running in a great Northwest relay race.

Pick a winner

There are lots of great relays to choose from: short, long, easy, challenging. The Trails to Taps in Bellingham covers 30 miles with stops at breweries along the way, while Hood to Coast winds from Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood all the way to the Oregon Coast. Spend some time researching to find a relay that suits you and your teammates. Likewise, make sure all of your teammates are on the same page in terms of what they want out of the experience. Is everyone just looking for a fun time or are some folks super competitive and aiming to win?

Choose a captain ­

Relay races are a team effort and everyone needs to do their part. But it’s also important to have a main point person to coordinate logistics, assign legs and vehicles and otherwise keep everything on track. It can be especially valuable to have a captain who’s run the relay before.

Train early

Race dates have a way of sneaking up fast. Don’t get caught unprepared. Start your training well in advance so that you’re ready and able to pull your weight on the team.

Do the legwork

Once the legs of the race have been assigned, study your stints to see what you’ll be covering. Most relays offer brief descriptions and, of course, mileage and elevation gains. Lots of hills? Make that a focus of your workouts. Running on trails or pavement? Spend some time getting used to what you’ll be running across.

Pack it up

Relay races take a lot more than a pair of shoes and some shorts. Depending on the distance and time, you may need to lengthen your packing list to include everything from multiple changes of clothes to headlamps, sleeping bags, pillows and more. Bring a laundry bag for dirty running gear, stock up on wet wipes and coordinate with teammates on gear like foam rollers and first aid kits.

Shout it out

One of the biggest appeals of running relay races is bonding with your teammates and friends over a shared, albeit sometimes grueling, experience. Have fun with them and support each other throughout the race. Cheer for your teammates at handoffs and offer verbal boosts to other runners you may pass on the course.