I recently wrote an article about the weird quicks all runners do, but while I was running Hood to Coast, I realized that relay runners are even quirkier. They are a special breed with fascinating rituals, knowledge, and obsessions.
I polled my fellow relay runners to help come up with this list.
1. Honey Buckets –
Relay runners have a great appreciation for the port-a-potty. We use them a lot. Sometimes they are clean. Sometimes they are more than disgusting – but we will use them and appreciate the fact that they are around.
2. They know how to pack –
Even though relay runners ride around in huge 15 passenger vans, space is a valuable commodity. The relay runner knows how to cram an enormous amount of gear into one bag. We have outfits for each leg and the finish line, extra shoes, sunscreen, first aid kits – with Advil and Aleve galore, food, extra shoelaces, etcetera.
3. They like to wear costumes –
Some relay runners enjoy running in a costume. I admit that the idea of running in one sounds like a certain kind of torture, but I do enjoy seeing them on the course. I’ve seen unicorns, Napoleon Dynamites, Baywatch lifeguards, and many others.
That said, I will proudly wear a banana suit at exchanges.
4. Baby wipes –
We use them to clean our bodies – faces, armpits, feet – you get the idea. After running for days without access to a shower, baby wipes keep your van mates from spraying you with Febreze.
5. Safety pins –
Relay runners, and even those that run a lot of races, stockpile safety pins. During last year’s Hood to Coast, our van didn’t get enough safety pins to accommodate everyone’s bibs. Sharing bibs is not fun. Now we have bags of pins we take with us, and they always come in handy. You can pin up decorations, fix clothing or shoes with them, or hang things from the seats with them.
6. Serious about outfits –
While runners tend to take care when picking out any race outfit, relayers need to consider the weather for not just one morning race, but three runs at different times of the day and over two days. It takes some careful weather checking and consideration to pick an outfit that will keep you comfortable in whatever conditions you will be running.
7. Foods –
Relay runners also have weird food requirements. I know for me, I have to have a box of Chicken in a Biscuit crackers. Others I know always have a package of Oreos, homemade peanut butter Rice Krispie treats, or a container of salami and cheese, or fruit.
The food we pack for a relay almost becomes a superstitious obsession. Yes, those crackers make me feel amazing after a run. They are salty and carblicious.
8. Kolsch – or the post-run beer –
Disclaimer here: Hood to Coast frowns on drinking along the course. I have seen teams hanging around their van slurping up PBR, but that’s their business.
However, during other relays – my friends and I have enjoyed a post-run beer. Our favorite is Pelican’s Kolsch. It’s fresh, creamy, and has a slight citrus flavor. It’s the perfect post-run relaxation device.
Is it nice to have an ice-cold beer right after you run in the hot sun for 7 miles? Absolutely!
9. They know how to stay cool –
Relay runners have staying cool down to a T. We support other runners along the route by spraying them with super soakers. We help our runners by meeting them on the course halfway through their run and handing them a cold Gatorade, Slushie, or pouring ice water over their head as they run past.
My all-time favorite cooling method has got to be when it’s especially hot outside, and my team meets me with a cup full of ice to add to my sports bra. Now that is team support.
10. Energy from nowhere –
It seems crazy to be able to finish three challenging runs in a 24 to 30-hour time frame with VERY little sleep. However, somehow relay runners can pull energy from absolutely nowhere to get things done.
11. They know how to tape just about any injury –
Drive passed any relay course and you will see a myriad of runners sporting all different colors and designs of KT or Rock tape. We can tape on the fly. We can tape with our bodies folded in half in the back of a van. Do you have an ache, pain, or strain? We know how to tape that thing so you can get your legs finished.
12. They know how to sleep anywhere –
I have a difficult time shutting down my excitement during a relay and getting some good sleep. Usually, though, after my second leg, I am so tired I can sleep anywhere. That’s right – stretched out on a van seat with a seat belt sticking into my back. Sitting up with my forehead pressed against the headrest in front of me – drool sliding down my chin. Sometimes I even find myself nodding off standing up.
13. Hatred of seat belts – they can be a real pain in the tush –
Speaking of seat belts digging into your back – relay runners have a real dislike of those seat belts. They are great for saving lives, but when you are trying to sleep, they can be a real pain in the tush.
14. They know how to change clothes anywhere –
Relay runners have a knack for changing their clothes wherever they can. Be that in the back of a van, behind a held up blanket, or in a Honey Bucket.
15. Absolute lack of filter –
There comes a point during every relay when the filter drops. It depends on the personality regarding how long that takes, but the conversations can go from banal to ‘eewww, gross!’ in no time.
I hope you found these humorous and relatable. If you have any other weird relay runner quirks, I’d love to hear them.