Tips on Running an Ultra Relay

18 Jul


I have run the Ragnar Northwest Passage(NWP) relay twice. My first ever relay was NWP 2011. We had a 12 person team. After that weekend on the ride home we decided that we would do an ultra relay(6 person team) in 2012. 5 of the 6 of us in our van were in. We were on a huge high from the weekend. We picked our legs, our new team name, costumes, and everything was set before we even got back to Portland!

Lets back up for a minute. A relay is when you get your 11 closest friends or 5 closest friends to run 200 miles with you, sit in a van sweaty for 30 hours, and have a great time at it!!

As the twelve months went by we ran and planned. Executed an awesome 1st for all of us ultra relay. We decided that it was hard and most of us did not want to do it again. But Ellen and I are back for round 2!! Suckas!!

At the start line in Blaine, WA at the Peace Arch 2012.

Tips on how to have a great race:

1–TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN. Train like you are training for a half marathon. Lots of running. Duh! Do long runs on Saturday and Sunday. A month to go: do some double days. Run in the morning and run in the evening. That gets your body used to running twice in a day. Schedule a few runs (of the length that you will be running in your relay) for Saturday am, Saturday pm, and Sunday am to let you feel how it will feel come race weekend.

2–Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. The week before the race lots of water and electrolytes. Especially if it will be hot. In 2011 it was pretty hot but in 2012 it rained and it was cooler. My electrolyte of choice is Nuun. Nuun is partnering with Ragnar this year and I won a team hydration kit for us this year. Awesome! Thanks Nuun!!

3–Re-fuel, Re-fuel, Re-fuel. Make sure you are carbing up leading into the race! It is so important to refuel after you have run. My choice is chocolate milk. For ultras I drink a double and for regulars I drink a single. Make sure you are eating between your legs. Carbs and easy digestible foods. Uncrustables, peanut butter pretzels, fruit, licorice, Gatorade. Eat meals when you can depending on when you will be running.

4–Rest. As much as you can. Try and take little naps or just close your eyes for a few minutes. When doing an ultra the van is always on the move. There is no down time like a regular relay. You have to rest when you can. Bring a eye mask and ear plugs if you need them.

5–Get a 15 passenger van. You have more room to maneuver around. We designate the back bench for “sleeping.” It may cost a little extra but in the long run it is TOTALLY WORTH IT!!

6–Have a driver. Another important key for ultras. You are so tired, the last thing you want to do is have to drive. Bob was our driver last year and luckily enough he is Ellen’s hubby so he is driving us again this year. SCORE!

7–MOTIVATION. Getting 6 people together to run 200 miles is one thing. Executing is another. Cheering and leaping frogging your runners is part of the fun of a relay. Making sure your runner is doing ok. Cowbelling for them. Keeping them motivated to finish that leg and being ready to do it again hours later.

8–Recovery. Having a “stick” on hand. Ellen forgot ours last year so I had to make friends and borrow theirs. Compression socks, pants, sleeves will work wonders. If you have them wear them in between legs. Wearing them while running if that’s your thing.

10–PACE YOURSELF. This is an ultra. You will most likely be going your half marathon pace instead of 10K pace. Slow it down a bit. Especially for your first leg. Just getting through the first leg at a little slower pace will guarantee you have a good 2nd/3rd leg! If you go all out and kill yourself the first leg you will not have anything in the tank for your 2nd/3rd.

In my experience. My first leg is just a tad slower than I want it to be. My second leg is right on pace and every time my best leg. My third leg is much harder but still on pace. 🙂

Moral of the story: PACE YOURSELF!!! IT IS A LONG 30 HOURS!!

10–Have Fun. Do not think too hard about it. Keep your hydration, fueling, and motivation up, and you will have no problem having an epic relay!!

After 30 hours of running, eating, driving, and no sleeping we were done & still smiling 2012:

Who wants to do an ultra relay now??

10 Responses to “Tips on Running an Ultra Relay”

  1. Sherrie July 18, 2013 at 5:57 AM #

    I’m sure this is just me but you are talking an awful lot about what to do between your legs. You actually said its important to eat between your legs. And then there was something about compression socks. Kinky.

    Also, let me remind you that when I forgot the roller, I bought you…. A ROLLING PIN from Fred Meyer. Oh yeah. It works. Even between your legs if you want it.

    • Leslie @ TriathleteTreats July 18, 2013 at 7:37 AM #

      I did forgot about all the running that happens in an ultra. I need to update my tips! Thanks!!!

      You did buy me a rolling pin and it worked!! So if no one has a “stick” they can buy a rolling pin that is much cheaper!!

  2. MoM July 18, 2013 at 7:14 AM #

    I’m exhausted just reading about a relay!

  3. Laura July 18, 2013 at 9:03 AM #

    Have great fun this weekend! Can’t wait until we get to do this in Nov.

  4. marathonlar July 18, 2013 at 11:26 AM #

    I’m running Ragnar this year for the 5th year, but 1st year as an ultra…yikes! Hope to see you out on the course. We have a minivan with no driver so hopefully we still survive!

  5. Kristen L @ DYL July 18, 2013 at 12:07 PM #

    Firstly, have fun this weekend!!!

    Second, you know I haven’t done a relay yet, but an ultra relay sounds really intriguing. Seems like these are pretty good tips for any relay, but especially for an ultra where you have twice the mileage.

  6. Change of Pace July 18, 2013 at 1:18 PM #

    Ha ha ha- this made me want to run one even more now!!
    I think the bigger van and driver sound like the best tips out there!
    Have a GREAT time!! Can’t wait to read about it!


  1. Ragnar Packing List | Triathlete Treats - July 18, 2013

    […] ON yesterdays TIPS post: My friend, Sherrie, who was a part of my Comin’ In Ultra Hot team from last year brought to […]

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