A few weeks ago many of you submitted tips and tricks for other teams—congratulations to Laura Dempsey for submitting the most popular idea (“Baby wipes!”) and winning an RTB T-shirt. There were so many good ideas, though, I figured that devoting a post to a few of them would be worthwhile.
“Pack clothing in zip-lock bags for each leg and label them.” (from Elaine)
Clean, dry, un-smelly clothing for each of your three legs is a great idea unto itself. Keeping it all organized for easy-access in the crowded, dark, messy (and probably smelly) van, is crucial. You don’t want to be scrambling to find your hat and gloves at 3 a.m. with a teammate hammering toward the transition area.
“Look through the road maps ahead of time, and designate someone to partner with the driver to be ‘co-pilot.’” (from Danielle Sterling)
This is one of the most critical components of having a mistake-free race. You want to keep your team on course, moving toward the beach, with a minimum of stress and anxiety. Getting lost doesn’t help with any of those goals. I’d add to this that runners should review their legs before running—and I’d advise even making some notes (major intersections and or mileage checkpoints) on something you’ll carry with you during your leg—the back of your bib number, a slip of paper, etc.
“Find a way to make your team recognizable—a mascot, van decorations, costumes, etc.” (from Joni) and “Have your runners wear distinctive lights at night so you can easily identify them.” (from Rob O’B)
A lot of teams go to great lengths to decorate their vans, design costumes, etc. My teams have never done this. To each his and her own. But I will say this: There’s a LOT to be said for being able to recognize your team easily and quickly. That white van you just rented? It’s not going to stand out in a parking lot filled with identical vehicles. And runners of all shapes and sizes look the same in the middle of the night, running toward you with a head lamp on. Some van decorations can help solve the first problem. Uniquely colored lights, or flashing patterns that stand out, will help you pick your runners out from the field as they approach transition areas in the middle of the night.
“Don’t underestimate the healing power of a hot meal mid RTB.” (from Elizabeth)
I’ll add a couple comments to Elizabeth’s idea. First, anything you can do to make yourself feel normal and fresh, in the midst of this relay madness (a change of clothes, a shower, food) are highly recommended. Second, refueling during RTB is unlike refueling during any other race you do. The advice I give my teammates every year is to start snacking soon after you run—even if you don’t feel like it—because your next leg will sneak up on you faster than you might expect. I’ve always taken a grazing approach, eating bits of this and that throughout the race. But I also agree that a substantial meal at some point is a must.
And when you’re done, some baby wipes will freshen you right up.