This is probably the most crucial part of the process. Sure, you have a bunch of people who you run with regularly and they all seem alright for a 30-90 minute run, but how well do you really know them? Here are a list of things to think about…
So you’ve heard from your friends about these crazy endurance relay running events that cover hundreds of miles in about 24-hours and you’re pretty keen on wanting to be part of one. And while personally running 12-30 miles in 24 hours doesn’t seem too daunting for those of us who run regularly or deciding on a clever double entendre or pun team name (i.e., Kiss My Pass, Buns on the Run, My Third Leg is Longer Than Yours) seems fun, there are a lot of other factors to consider when signing up for a race like this so you have a fun and positive experience.
Who the hell do you want on your team?
Single-Sex or Coed Group?
Are you a bunch of single 20- or 30-somethings who are using this race to meet people in a fun way? Then a coed group may be good for you. But make sure there aren’t any guys or gals in the group who are going to make everyone else feel uncomfortable because of their unprovoked sexual advances, rude comments or uncouth personal habits that leave the others in your van with their jaws dropping like a runaway elevator down to the floor. Are you looking more to bond with your girls or bros? Then go the single-sex team route. Are you part of a running club already, which is a combination of married and single people of all ages and there is a familiarity with the group? Then either a coed or single-sex group should work out fine.
Is your goal to Win or Have a Great Experience?
You may want to both win your team division and have a great experience. You may just want to win and are not concerned about the dynamic in the van, but just if your other teammates are fast and focused. You may care less about how your team does and want to be around people you enjoy and laugh more often than you run miles. Whatever your reason for running a 12-person relay, just make sure your reasoning is inline with the others on the team. There is nothing worse then being on a team of 11 “party people” and you being the 1 “serious” runner or visa versa. Some teams are a little competitive, but still want to have fun along the way. Other teams are uber-competitive and other teams care more about what they will be doing when they are not running. The bottom-line is simply find out the vibe of your team, if possible, before race day.
Who Are Your Event Planners/Team Captains?
There are a lot of moving pieces with these endurance relays and so you need to have certain types of people on your squad that can handle the various logistics.
These people are usually the ones who had the crazy idea of finding 11 of their closest friends and run 150-200+ miles for 24-hours. They will usually come up with the team name (but not always – or at least get the ball rolling with ideas) and register the team. This person will usually be the one who knows the rules of what can and cannot occur during these relays as stated by the race director.
Van Organizer & Drivers
You need a person who is fine both taking on renting two vans or knows where he can go and borrow two vans for this event. Also, don’t assume everyone will want to drive on race day. Some people hate driving at night and will only drive in the daytime. Some of your group will have no desire to drive at all. Others will drive whenever possible. Some teams will ask a friend or two, who are not doing the relay, to drive the vans for them. Just make sure you’re not with your van at 3 a.m. and everyone is like “I’m not F#@kin’ drivin’ right now!”
This job is usually done by the most creative people on the team. They will help get the team name approved by the rest of the squad and then, most likely, will let their creative juices flow and run with it – Let them. They usually have better ideas and vision than you do, anyway.
Try to remember that you’re in a small space with 5 other people for 24-hours or more, who will be sweaty, smelly and tired. Don’t add to the potential discomfort by bringing sardines for one of your meals because you just love sardines. Suck it up and think about others, brother! Find foods/items that work for most of us – bagels, fruit, water, energy drinks, granola bars, sandwiches, etc. Obviously, if you have a severe allergy to some types of foods then of course let your team know, so you don’t break into hives, now leaving the other 5 runners in your van picking the short-straw to see who needs to run your 8-mile uphill leg @ 4 a.m., which you can no longer run. A person can simply assign food for each of the group in the van to bring or you can go solo – but again, be clear of the plans before race day.
Have those people on your team that make sure your van/team have enough flash lights, blinkers, reflective vests, warm clothes, dry clothes, blankets, etc. While many of these types of runs will have a list of things you need to have for the race, it’s good to have a couple of people on the team to make sure all members are ready with the right racing gear and non-racing gear for this 24-hour+ trek.
Enjoy The Race
Whatever type of team or goals you have, just make sure you enjoy the experience. When you are with the right group of people and have the right gear/food then the little hiccups that occur during the race (and there are always a few) won’t bother you so much and you’ll just have yet another great running story to share with your non-running/running friends.