How to Captain a Relay Van

You signed up for a relay and you find yourself being the only van member with previous relay or even racing experience. You haven’t received many emails regarding the race and you feel like planning for the race is long overdue.

I recently found myself in this same situation. Reach the Beach New Hampshire starts tomorrow and I am very excited. When I ran Ragnar Cape Cod, I must admit, I wasn’t very involved in the planning process and I promised myself I would do more for my next stint in relay running and I have.

These are the things you need to think about when planning a relay.

VAN

A relay team usually consists of 12 people, or in extreme cases and ultra team of 6. In most cases though, you will need two vans.  You and your team need to decide if you want to rent a 12-passenger white van, a mini-van or a 7-passenger SUV.  My first relay we went with a teammate’s SUV and it was relatively comfortable. However, there are pros and cons to each vehicle.

12-Passenger Van-These vans are expensive to rent, I mean like $500 per van, crazy right? They offer a lot of space though, enough for 2 team members to sleep lying down. Also, they offer ample storage space in the back. These are usually a staple in relay races and the majority of teams have these vans, though I feel that they are using the others more and more often.

Mini-Van or SUV-These vehicles can rent for a lot less, I actually got a mini-van for a total of $179, divided by 6, that’s only $30 per person. However, these types of vehicles are less spacious than a van meant for 12. Also there is less cargo room. You have to measure the pros and cons of space/smells/stuff versus money and commodity.  Keep in mind that 1 team member will always be out on the run, and not much sleeping will be had in the process of your legs, since you will be frantically running from one transition area to another. So there are usually 5 people per van meaning 1 person can lay down on the back row to sleep.  I think there is enough room to be had in these vehicles, they are also more fuel efficient and some quality time with your team mates should be something you should look forward too. If infringement on your personally space freaks you out, maybe team relays are not for you.

GEAR

Most relays require specific gear, headlamps, vests and flashing lights.  You need to make sure that every person brings their require gear. Ragnar requires 12 vests, 1 vest per person, while Reach the Beach only requires 2 vests per van.  Other than these requirements there are things that each member should bring along. There are van necessities and runner necessities, here is a list of both.

RUNNERS

-3 pairs of running clothes

-1 thermal shirt (in case temperatures drop in the night legs)

-3 pairs of socks

-Personal hygiene products (deodorant, toothbrush, contacts, etc)

-Any personal item

VAN

I personally believe that less is better so I told my van that only one of these should be brought per van, to minimize bulk.

-Phone charger

-Music

-Toilet Paper

-Hygiene wipes

-Shampoo

-Foam roller/’The Stick’

-Foot deodorizer

-Binder with race handbook, course maps with extra copies for each runner to take on legs. Also you should map out directions from one van transition area to another. Cell signal might get spotty in remote locations and you should ensure you have ways to getting to where you need to go.

High-res Alexandra Panova! She is one of the worlds first lululemon sponsored tennis players.

Alexandra Panova! She is one of the worlds first lululemon sponsored tennis players.

High-res Percy Sutton Harlem 5k done! It was hard. I actually ran the last mile in under 9 minute per mile pace. Now I go eat and have some fun in Manhattan.

This is race number 4 to qualify for the NYC marathon!!! Almost halfway.

Percy Sutton Harlem 5k done! It was hard. I actually ran the last mile in under 9 minute per mile pace. Now I go eat and have some fun in Manhattan.

This is race number 4 to qualify for the NYC marathon!!! Almost halfway.

High-res Half marathon number 8 done! Finished the Rock and Roll Providence Half in 2:18:49 which is 6 minutes faster than last year and overcoming persistent injury. I think it’s a great accomplishment. 
Very dear thanks to Sharon for helping me finish the race in great spirits. This is a tradition I want to follow, year after year. Love ya!

Half marathon number 8 done! Finished the Rock and Roll Providence Half in 2:18:49 which is 6 minutes faster than last year and overcoming persistent injury. I think it’s a great accomplishment.
Very dear thanks to Sharon for helping me finish the race in great spirits. This is a tradition I want to follow, year after year. Love ya!

High-res This is my big pre-run secret. Natures Gu. What’s my post run recovery choice? Chocolate milk, yum!

This is my big pre-run secret. Natures Gu. What’s my post run recovery choice? Chocolate milk, yum!