Race Info

Event History
Two-day overnight relay events have existed since 1982, when the Hood to Coast Relay was begun in Oregon. Within the last few years, relay races have exploded in popularity. There are currently dozens of these events nation-wide and the number is growing every year.

The idea for the New England Relay burst into Brian Hamill's head while vacationing on the beach in the Caribbean. Leave it to the head coach of Community Running to be thinking of running while on vacation! Was it possible to run across all six New England states in the span of a weekend? With the help of Robin Zaragoza, a passionate and seasoned relay runner, they organized a test run with other runners from Community Running in June of 2009. They found that yes, not only was it possible, it was also an extremely beautiful course that they wanted to share with other runners. And thus, the New England Relay was born!

How does a relay race work?
The words "relay race" typically remind us of being 10 years old, back in elementary school, running the 50-yard dash then passing a baton to one of our teammates. Maybe you even wore color-coordinated t-shirts with your teammates? Well, today's team relay races are quite different, but they do involve two similar aspects: running and teams.

A relay race is a team-oriented event. Each team consists of either twelve runners and two vehicles, or six runners and one vehicle (ultra teams). Vastly different from elementary school, though, team relay races are much longer. The New England Relay, specifically, is 220 miles divided into 36 sections, called "legs." At the end of each leg is a designated transition area (often a school, church, or park with ample space for parking vehicles). As the event is a relay, only one team member runs at a time, while the rest of the team travels in vehicles. When a runner completes his "leg", he hands off to the next runner on his team at the transition area.

On a team of twelve, each runner runs three legs, keeping the same runner rotation throughout the event. For example, Runner #1 will run legs 1, 13, and 25. Each runner will cover approximately 18 miles over the course of their three legs, each leg being between 4 and 12 miles.

These 12-person teams divide into two groups, with six runners in each van. The van that has a runner on the course is called the "Active Van", while the other van is called the "Resting Van". Typically the active van will support their runner (fluid, encouragement, etc), while the resting van will drive ahead to the next "exchange area." Every sixth transition area is an exchange area, which means where the last runner in the active van hands off to the first runner in the resting van. The resting van then becomes the active van.

A 6-person, or Ultra team, has several different choices as to how to split up the course: they can rotate through the 36 legs in a specific order; they can each run several legs in a row, then exchange; or they can split up the legs in any fashion, as long as each runner runs a minimum of three legs. Since there is only one vehicle for ultra teams, the vehicle is always referred to as the active van.

Other Important Things to Know

  • Teams, depending on their pace, will be out on the course anywhere from 20 to 30 hours. Teams start in waves every half hour with the slower teams starting in the morning and the faster teams starting in the early afternoon. Team starting times won't be announce until after registration closes on May 21st.
  • The course is NOT CLOSED to traffic. Runners run along shoulders of roads and both runners and their vans must follow traffic laws.
  • Teams are self-supporting. Each team supplies its own vehicles, food, water, sports drinks, first aid, and anything else that may be required during the event.
  • We have two major transition areas in the middle of the night that are appropriate for outdoor sleeping (i.e. sleeping bags and tents) or parking your van and sleeping inside the van.
  • Because of the extended length of the course, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that teams have an average pace of 9:00 minutes/mile or faster in order to finish while the finish line is open. Teams that have a pace slower than this will be asked to have runners run concurrently to "catch up", or even skip legs. Further details will be provided within the race packet a month before the event. 
  • Gas, food stores, country stores, and restaurants are available in most of the towns and villages on or close to the relay route.
  • We have taken many safety precautions to make sure all participants in the event stay safe. There will be EMTs stationed along the course, we will provide you with addresses and phone numbers to area hospitals, police, and fire stations, and all relay staff will have direct communication with the rest of the staff.
  • There are basic rules and regulations that must be followed during the event upon danger of team penalty. These rules are basic and intuitive, should not be difficult to follow, and exist for your safety. A full list will be provided in the race handbook.
  • Thirty days prior to the event, all team captains will be sent a full relay handbook with rules & regulations, course maps, equipment checklists, etc.

Putting Together a Team
Running a relay is a ton of fun, and frankly addictive. The opportunity to run in the middle of the night, bond with other runners, and decorate your van in outrageous ways are just some of the reasons relay runners keep coming back. But before the fun come the logistics.

To help you organize your team, we recommend the following:

  • First you'll need to put a team together (this makes you the team captain!). You can start by recruiting your running friends to join you. It's always best to get a commitment by collecting their share of the registration. If you don't have enough friends to put together a team, you can post on our message board to find someone, email your local running clubs and stores, or post on Craigslist.
  • Once you have a few runners committed, register your team. Make sure to read all the Registration information first. It is OK to register your team before you have all your runners, they can add themselves to your team up until registration closes on May 24th.
  • Next you need to reserve vehicles for your team. Visit our Team Logistics page to find information on recommended companies.
  • Finally, you should book hotel rooms for your team close to the start if you are coming from far away. You can find hotel room discounts on our Team Logistics page.
  • Thirty days prior to the event, when team captains receive the race handbook, you should prepare all necessary equipment for the event (food, water, first aid kit, etc).