When I added a video to my profile, I made mention of it being from the Reach-the-Beach Relay in 2007. RTB is one of those 24+ hour, 36-leg relays that are spread throughout the country. I did it in 2006 and 2007 and enjoyed it both times, although some internal tension made 2007 less fun than my inaugural run.

At its core, a relay consists of 36 legs and teams of 12 (or fewer), using 2 vans. Each standard runner does 3 legs, and race organizers try to minimize the disparity among legs. The start is staggered based upon seeding, with the faster teams going last. The most difficult thing is to get people of a like mind-set for the race. Either you have a team out for a romp or you have one that intends to run as quickly as possible. You don’t want a mixed team. I know that I’d be more than a little pissed if I’ve busted my hump training to save seconds and one of my teammates has just kinda shown up. It has its individual benefits, but it’s chiefly about the team. That’s not to say that the best team consists of the 12 fastest people you know. Far better to have 12 people who share the commitment — and if one has a package of tough legs, it’s close to marathon training — to prepare for the race, and my Sound Shore teams did that (and finished very high (21st in 2007), particularly for a bunch of suburban folks).

New York Relay. You’ve probably seen ads for the Ragnar New York Relay on May 15-16. It’s a new relay, going from Woodstock to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. I see it passes about 1 mile from my house.

When we did RTB, it was a 3 night deal (night before, night of, night after), which did not enamor it with my wife. For New Yorkers, this would probably be a one-nighter. It’s worth a look if you’ve not done one before, with the caveat that these relays are best done with a group with which one is familiar. It can’t be much fun to be on a van for extended periods with people you don’t know. But I highly recommend the experience. I’ve run for a while, and my RTB experience is one of the best I’ve ever had. There’s nothing quite like running at 2 in the morning in the rain with only a headlamp for company. And realizing that after you finish you still have one more race to run later that morning.

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