Go The Distance With These Overnight Relay Race Running Tips
Recreational sports enthusiasts are flocking to the hills and trails in droves to try the unconventional exercise that has become extremely popular over the last decade: overnight relay race running.
Overnight relay races are held all over the world. The largest organizer of these events, Ragnar, hosts relay races and trail relays worldwide, or if you are seeking something local, try the Colorado-based Road Less Traveled (RLT).
Overnight relay races come with unique challenges, so before hitting the trails, read up on how to prepare and what to expect. If you follow these relay race running tips and take measures to protect your safety, you can enjoy running with your friends without worry.
What is an Overnight Relay Race?
Overnight relay racing encourages groups of fitness enthusiasts and those looking for a new adventure to form a team that runs long distances overnight in a relay format (generally one runner at a time).
These races appeal to those who want to combine the physical challenge of running with socializing and building friendships. Through the run, each team member discovers that they can accomplish more together than apart. Whenever a runner feels like they can no longer continue, there is another runner to take their place.
These runs can be incredibly satisfying and life-affirming; however, there are logistical details to take care of before you can lace up your sneakers. Overnight relay race running requires plenty of planning, and you will need specific equipment to stay safe at night.
Pick Your Team
You will be running with these people, and you will be spending quite a bit of time together, so pick carefully. A typical relay team consists of 12 runners who run three legs each, totaling about 11 to 24 miles per runner, but the number of relay racers you have on your team and how you divide the running amongst your team is entirely up to you.
Some teams prefer to have their stronger runners run more often or run the legs with the most challenging terrain, while the less advanced runners tackle the shorter legs and flatter portions of the course.
Most relays cover roughly 200 miles, so make sure your team members are physically up for the challenge. You may want to go on team runs before the relay race to ensure everyone feels comfortable with the exertion. Peak athleticism is not required to do an overnight relay, but people should generally know what to expect before the race.
Planning for your overnight relay race is essential to having a fun, successful race. Your pre-race checklist should include the following steps:
Rent a Van
You and your team will need two vans for the relay race. One van can follow alongside runners during each stretch, while the other serves as a resting place for the non-active team members. Plan and contact a local van rental agency near the site of your race to ensure you find two vehicles that offer the space you need.
Pick a Home Base
Examine the race route and pick a home base where you and the other members will meet after finishing. Having a home base picked out allows you to celebrate with your team after their race and prevents confusion if team members become separated.
Divide the Legs
While familiarizing yourself with the race’s projected route, divide the legs among the runners. Each portion of the race may require different skills. For example, one leg may cover steep mountain territory while another covers a flat field. Discuss these elements with your team and make sure everyone is comfortable with the leg they are set to run.
Pack Food and Water
Pack food and water for the event. If you bring food that requires refrigeration, ensure that you bring an ice chest with ice, or you have access to a van or RV with a built-in refrigeration unit. Otherwise, pack items that are easy to carry and will give you energy during and after the run. Bring several gallons of water for each runner to ensure everyone has the hydration they need for the race.
Plan for Contingencies
While you and your team may have access to smartphones and other devices, plan for contingencies where you don’t have service. Distribute written maps with meeting places and phone numbers, and consider investing in walkie-talkies so you can communicate if your cell phones don’t work.
Safety is essential for overnight relay race running. Your racing path might cover terrain that crosses wooded or rocky areas and runs alongside roads or highways. According to the CDC, most pedestrian accidents happen at night, highlighting the danger for those who run after the sun goes down.
Wear hi-visibility sports apparel that alerts drivers and other runners to your presence to stay safe. Opt for a reflective running belt, harness, or PT belt from 360 USA to ensure your visibility on your overnight relay race.
A PT belt is a type of running belt that is closely tied with military training. Worn by soldiers for physical training, PT belts have made their way into civilian hands as a tool for improved visibility and performance when running. 360 USA carries lightweight reflective PT belts made of elastic fabric that keep you safe when running without weighing you down.
PT belts are an excellent option for an overnight relay race because they allow you to maintain a consistent speed and enhance visibility. Belts fit 28 to 49-inch waists, making them versatile for athletes of all sizes.
Similarly, a reflective running harness is another option offering flexibility and hi-visibility when running. Choose from black, neon yellow, neon orange, pink, and white to match your relay team for the big race.
Prepare for Your Overnight Relay Race
Having fun on your overnight relay means coming prepared and staying safe during the event. With 360 USA, you can find hi-visibility gear that ensures drivers and other runners can see you during the race. 360 USA has reflective belts for running in multiple colors and lightweight materials to fit any runner.
Shop our hi-vis fitness apparel to get the overnight relay race apparel you need to stay safe and visible during your nighttime run.