Well it is that time of the year when we are trying to decide what relay we want to do. Who we want on our team. What time of the year is going to be best. For some of us the decision is to do an ultra or regular team. If you decide on an ultra, are you going to do 3 long legs or 6 shorter legs?
I have done 3 ultras. All 3 with Ragnar. (Northwest Passage 2x and Las Vegas 1x) I have done 6 regular(12 person) teams.
I remember after my first ever relay in 2011. We had so much fun and thought the next year we should do it ultra style. We were obviously in that post-race bliss period and decided on something far more stupid than we thought could be possible. It was obvious that we would do 3 long legs. Legs and team name were picked in the van back to Portland the next day!! NWP ’12 Comin’ In Ultra Hot would be there!
I am not sure how we ever decided on 3 legs instead of 6. I think that the biggest reason was the wardrobe. I like to take 3 sets of clothes to wear one on each leg. If we were doing 6 legs that is 6 sets of clothes. That is personally more than I want to pack. Another reason is you run long and then you get a long break. You can actually have a “meal” instead of just a snack going into your 2nd and 3rd runs. You have more down time to take naps because people are running longer so you are not having to stop at every exchange like you normally would.
I remember training really hard for that first ultra. I would run long Thursday night and then long Friday morning. Then I added in a few Friday night runs when it got closer to the race. I remember being nervous too. Just like you would be nervous for your first half marathon or marathon.
I think that one was the most prepared for in the 3 I have done! We were all happy that we had done 3 long legs. I will say after doing an ultra team I didn’t really want to do a 12 person team again. I liked how the entire team was in the van. Way less logistics than a 12 person team. We were always on the go. But we had big breaks the way the legs played out with who was running them.
I felt like the 2nd one(NWP ’13) would be better just because I had already done one. Ultra Dicey was a smorgasbord of runners. 2 of us had returned from the year before. We were the “veterans” that “knew” how to do an ultra relay! HA! I did not train like I did the year before. But I was fresh off half-ironman training so I thought I could wing it. I will say it is much harder when you are not totally prepared for it! Early on we decided to do 3 long legs as well. I remember being super sore too!!
When I got Ultra Dragging Aces together(Las Vegas ’13) we had a big discussion on the 3 vs 6 legs. It was quickly decided that we would go with 3 legs. The clothes were always the issue!! Secondly the time between legs was greater. More time for our legs to “recover”!!
I have been super sore after all of them. Now neither that is because I have run 30+ miles inside 30ish hours or being cooped up in a van having run all of those miles or being sleep deprived. Who knows really?!
I think that one of the biggest factors in running a relay is fueling. You need to make sure that you are eating enough to fuel your body for your next run. But you run the risk of stomach problems. With an ultra it is even MORE IMPORTANT to fuel right. You are always on the go and need to be prepared!!
Now you can check out the relay maniacs stories and then you can decide for yourself how many legs you would like to run!
Holly has done 2 of the hardest Ragnar’s (Wasatch Back and Colorado) as a 6 leg ultra. She is taking on Las Vegas this year and I had to be the one to tell her she doesn’t run anywhere near the strip!! She swears by 6 legs. She believes that you can run faster in 6 legs than 3. Go find out what her take on the whole clothes situation is or not!!
Lauren did her first ultra relay last year. We actually met at exchange 26 at NWP! Yeahyaaa! Her and her team decided that there were a couple of legs that were too long and have constructed a 4 leg plan for this year. She might be on to something here and may never go back to a 12 person team.
I am more of an endurance runner. I think that is why the 3 legs appeals to me. Long and slow. Someone who runs every day and fast may like the 6 legs that are shorter that can be faster. How many legs would you want to do? If and when you complete an ultra relay you will feel like a BAD-ASS! ESPECIALLY if you do 3 legs and get to run through your first exchange screaming ULTRA…just passing through!!!
I think that doing a 6 leg ultra would be interesting. I would pack double the clothes and see what happens!