I thought I’d share some tips compiled by myself as well as some of my teammates that will help you to have the best overnight running relay experience ever! First, if you’re not familiar with these type of events, you can go here for a little background info specifically about Ragnar Relay.

Without further ado I present to you my 10 tips for the best overnight relay race experience


1. Pack your running outfits in plastic zip close bags (I use freezer bag versions because they are stronger and have an area to write on) for each individual leg you are running. Then write on each bag which leg that outfit is for. For instance, you might be running the first leg early in the morning when it’s cooler but not so sunny so you might want a warmer top and not need a visor. But perhaps your second leg will be mid-day with hot sun. You wouldn’t want to pull the wrong bag and end up with your morning outfit for leg 2 now would ya?

packing for Ragnar Relay

2. Pack non-perishable meals and plenty of water. You can’t count on having the time or the resources to locate restaurants or grocery stores on the way. And trust me, there’s nothing worse than getting ready to run your 2nd or 3rd leg of the journey at the crack of dawn and be so hungry people start to resemble chicken drumsticks like the cartoons. Hard boiled eggs and turkey sandwiches kept in a cooler or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are some good options. Maybe a few pieces of fruit, some chips, trail mix and candy! You gotta have candy! I usually bring a small backpack/hydration pack so I always have access to my food and water but we usually also have a huge cooler in the back that we stock with water and gatorade the night before the event.

3. Bring double the amount of sun screen, bug spray and baby wipes and TP you think you’ll want. At night the skeeters can really bite you up and during the day you’ll be running with long stretches of sun on your face. Don’t risk getting burned because that’ll make you really uncomfortable. Oh, and Trust me on the baby wipe thing. You might step in mud or even worse, dog poo on top of just wanting to wipe sweat off your brow. And that leads me to #3.

you'll be using these for a long time....don't expect there to be TP, take your own!

you’ll be using these for a long time….don’t expect there to be TP, take your own!

4. Pack a backup pair of sneakers. If it rains, one pair might get really wet or perhaps you didn’t have enough baby wipes AND you stepped in dog poo. (this happened to me my second relay and i tossed the poo’d pair.)

5. Pack a beach towel and a hand towel. This will be great if you need to sit in the van sweaty. Also, it allows for some “modesty” if you opt to change out of ALL your sweaty clothes.

6. Pin your race # to your bottoms or use a running belt with those clips that hold race #s. This one is mainly if you think you might want to change your shirt after each leg but keep the same bottoms. It’s one less thing to think about. You have to have your number on at all times and wouldn’t want to rip off a sweaty shirt after your leg only to realize the number is still attached.



7. Team spirit is everything! Christi, who was our team captain for one of the relays had this to share: It’s all about who is in the van and their attitude towards the whole endeavor. It will only be fun if everyone in the van gets into it and supports each other, especially cheering along the course as you wait for your teammate to come into the check point.


props! are fun when you’re getting into the team spirit.


relay teammates that enjoy sunrises with Dunkin Donuts coffee together finish happy!

8. Decorate your van inside and out! Christi also suggests powering up a couple of strings of Christmas lights inside the van. It makes the van easily recognizable to the runner and makes the van feel cozy in the wee hours of the morning. (you can plug into the power adapter in the van. Many have them in the back of the vehicle) And using soap crayons to decorate the outside is a must! We’ve even created a little chart to fill in as each runner finishes their leg they can write in their finish time and cross that leg off as DONE!

Dusk was the perfect time to decorate the van with lights.

Dusk was the perfect time to decorate the van with lights.


soap crayons and markers are SO much fun!


9. Magic fun bag! OK, so Christi is also a grade school teacher so you see why fun is such a big emphasis from her contributions to this post. But really, if you’re not having fun then it’s not a successful relay. Coordinate with your teammates to make a magic fun bag that has items everyone will need or use — baby wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, noisemakers, snacks, sidewalk chalk to write messages on the path for the runners, bandaids

10. Film everything so you can make a video and remember what a good time it was years later. Here’s the video Roger made of our team when we did Ragnar New England.

And some bonus tips…

Jorge says: If you are doing the “ultra” category, respect the distance… Big difference— 200 miles is quite different between 12 runners and 6 runners… You can be quite festive with 12… With 6, it’s exercise AND discipline- you are either running, sleeping, driving, navigating, preparing to run or eating

Lisa adds: interact with the other teams, review the plan repeatedly but be flexible as it will probably change. She also says #RunningistheEasyPart

Roger adds: Don’t take yourself so seriously because it’s not really a race, but an event with friends and/or strangers. If something goes wrong, like you lose an MP3 player, don’t freak out but just laugh it off… Wear a horsehead mask or something else stupid to keep everyone (or at least yourself) laughing.

photo courtesy Roger (horsehead) Wright

photo courtesy Roger (horsehead) Wright

Oh yeah, the most important part of the relay is to know how to easily pass off the “baton” which is really a slap bracelet. I have to say I had a hard time with that. =)


successful transition at exchange 31

Any other tips? Share in the comments! =)



  1. Great post! This will come in real handy when I do So Cal Ragnar next year!

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