This past weekend I took part in the Green Mountain Relay in Vermont held in June around the Summer Solstice. The basic premise of the event is an almost 200mile relay from Point A to Point B for teams of 12 runners (there is also a 6 person “ultra” division). The 12 are generally divided 2 separate vans which trade off throughout the course. Runner #1 starts, runs to the checkpoint and hands off to Runner #2. This process repeats until all individuals in the first van have run a leg of the race. Van #2 then meets Van #1 at a set transition area, where Runner #7 will take off. All runners in Van #2then do their first legs before handing off again to the first van. This way, there is a runner from your team going at all times as you slowly make your way through the heart of Vermont, down to the finish line. Each runner does 3 legs and ends up somewhere between 12 and 20 miles over the course of the relay. Depending on where they are seated, the runners do at least one night run, possibly two. The legs vary in difficultly from easy flats and downhills to some pretty major climbs. I had one of the most difficult legs climbing 1000’ in 4.5 miles then running back down. The major hook of the course is running through rural Vermont which, as I discovered, is pretty much the entire state. It was pretty, green and filled with views on every mile. Even the night running was filled with forest sounds and fireflies.

The teams are self-supported but the race directors provided tons of excellent information to help you along. The website is perhaps the best race website, I’ve encountered and each single leg has a detailed map that shows you what to expect. The entire course was marked amazingly well and staffed with helpful volunteers to check each runner in and out of the exchange zone. The race also provided port-o-potties at each exchange and a post-race BBQ. Each runner was awarded a finishers medal and tech shirt. The race is limited to 100 teams. The 2010 edition featured 53 teams across all of the divisions.

Overall it is hard to encapsulate how much fun this race was. It is really about the team and the fun you have driving along the course to cheer your teammates on and get to the next exchange. Throw in sleep deprivation and full-on bouts of silliness. Going in, I kind of looked at it as a sort of summer camp for adults crammed into a weekend. Happily, that’s pretty much what it was. Don’t think it wasn’t about running as well. There are plenty of chances for one to really push themselves on the run and in conditions you have never run in before. If you ever feel like your running is going into a rut, a race like this is sure to snap you out of it.

Interestingly enough, the race is put on by Timberline Events –a Colorado Company. They also hold the Wild West Relay which is a similarly structured team relay from Ft. Collins to Steamboat Springs every August. (They’ve also started a trail race series this year)

Running Relay Race | Team Running Relays - Green Mountain Relay - Vermont's 200-mile long distance 24 hour team relay race adventure
Relay Race - Wild West Relay - a Colorado 200-mile long distance 24 hour team relay race adventure