Hey there, everyone!
Last month, my family tackled the Glass City Marathon as a family relay team! We’ve mentioned running a relay a time or two in the past, and one day earlier this year just decided to go for it. The GCM is held in nearby Toledo and is a relatively flat course (big thumbs up for this!) that takes us through parts of Northwest Ohio we are very familiar with, so it was the perfect race to do together.
If you’re unfamiliar with how a marathon relay works, I’ll do my best to break it down in this post. I’ve completed two marathon relays now (and have ran in marathons that have relays), but want to preface this all by saying you should check out the race website for that race’s specific relay info! Every race will be different regarding number of relay runners and logistic details regarding exchange points. Once you all, that is – all of the relay runners on your team, decide you want to do this and sign up for the event, your team members decide who is going to run what predetermined leg of the marathon course. You don’t determine it, the marathon event does so it can coordinate exchange points for all relay runners – you can usually view this info on their website. Your team members need to decide how you’re going to transport each other to each exchange point, as well as pick each other up at the exchange points. You’ll all have race bibs to wear, as well as a special team bib or baton (or something else!) to hold or wear during your leg of the race. You’ll also want a plan B and C just in case something goes awry – like weather or traffic.
This is our family the night before the race, confirming our plans for the morning. My dad had picked up our packets earlier that day.
Photo from my Snapchat (@tnewlove). We pow wow with cookies 😉
After confirming all of our details, we all trickled off to bed. Three of us had a super early start to race day!
My sister, mom, and I were runners 1, 2, and 3 – so our car headed first! My dad and Tim were driving separately, since it would be almost two hours before Tim needed to be at his exchange point.
I got dropped off about a quarter-mile from the start line and jogged my way toward the energetic crowd of runners! Since I was starting us off and knew I had a long run ahead of me, I stopped in a long porta-potty line on the way. I was shocked that there weren’t more, because when I ran the GCM full last year, there was an entire row on a nearby field! Thankfully, a volunteer on a golf cart came by to let us know there were actually more closer to the start (bless you, random volunteer!). I made it into the start corral just before a LifeFlight helicopter made an overhead pass, listened to a quick blessing for our race day, and then we were off!
I had a section of the course that winds through the beautiful neighborhoods of Ottawa Hills, and before I knew it, I was at the first relay exchange point! I passed the team bib off to my sister (runner #2) and ran with her through Wildwood Metropark and down a bike trail to get to the next exchange point where we’d find our mom. My mom parked the car nearby so I could pick up everyone else up at the remaining exchange points. I quickly added .20 miles on my way to the car to bring my daily mileage to 13.1 – I was too close to the half distance to not finish it, haha!
I met up with Tim (runner #4) before he took off, heading for my dad (runner #5) who had a long stretch of paved bike path ahead of him to get us to the finish!
A note on exchange points: As you can kind of tell from this photo, the exchange points are usually bustling with relay team members getting ready to run and other team members to cheer everyone on! If you’re a runner approaching the exchange point, volunteers and/or signs may be there to direct full marathoners to one side of the road, and relay runners to the other side of the road where their team member is waiting. Sometimes they’ll even have a PA system and will start calling out bib numbers as you approach, so your teammate knows you are close! If you’re getting ready to be the runner, be sure to listen to the volunteers and look for any helpful signage. At one relay I ran, your bib number dictated where you stood in the crowd so your runner could easily find you. And if there is a PA system, listen for your bib number. Don’t forget to take the team bib or baton from your teammate before you take off! Finally, as you start your leg of the course please be mindful of the full marathoners – especially as you get closer to the finish line. They are likely tired, sore, and giving their all just to keep moving forward!
Okay, back to race day! Glass City Marathon is awesome and permits all relay team members to finish the relay together. Tim, my mom, sister and I made a beeline for this section of the course (I think around mile 26) and once we saw my dad, entered the course and ran into the Glass Bowl football stadium and crossed the finish line together!
It. Was. Totally. AWESOME!
Side note – how beeeautiful are the race shirts in blue? Good job, GCM!
I can only speak for myself, but it was truly an amazing feeling to accomplish this with my family! We had beautiful weather and thanks to our pre-planning, logistically it was smooth sailing. Okay, aside from when I was nervous that we wouldn’t make it in time to finish with my dad 😉 We had plenty of time, for the record. #EarlyIsOnTimeOnTimeIsLATE <<– anyone else like this?
My fingers are crossed that our family (plus my other sister!) runs another relay in the future 🙂
Have you ever participated in a marathon relay? If so, how did it go?!
Favorite type of cookie?