Amy’s 36 Rules for Running a Ragnar Relay


I’m writing this post not only for my own benefit, but also for any of you Ragnar Relay virgins. There’s a few things you should know, that I didn’t know or didn’t want to believe going into the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay last summer.

Amy’s 36 Rules for Running a Ragnar Relay*:

1. Get two 15-passenger vans for your team of 12.

2. Find a driver for each van.

3. Bring a GPS (and pre-program all the exchange points in it).

4. Pack one running outfit for each leg you’re running (bottoms, top, sports bra, underwear, socks).

5. Pack each leg’s outfit in a separate 1 gallon Ziploc bag. This makes it easy when you need to change – no digging through your bag – and it keeps the stank contained.

6. You can pack toothpaste/toothbrush/soap/shampoo but you’ll be pretty damn lucky if you get to use any of it.

7. Embrace the stank or take a whore shower (aka babywipe bath).

8. Bring gum. You and the rest of your van will appreciate it (see above).

9. Don’t expect any more than 1-2 hours of sleep. If you’re lucky.

10. Pack one set of sweatpants/sweatshirt or lounge gear. This will be good for in between legs and for at the finish.

11. Bring an extra pair of running shoes in case it rains.

12. After dark, take a headlamp or flashlight to the port-a-potty. You don’t want to know what happens when you try to go in the dark.

13. Hand sanitizer. See #12.

14. Baby wipes. Get a big ol’ box of them. They can be used as toilet paper if you find the port-a-potty or yay-omg-flush-toilet is empty.

15. Deodorant. Use it. Love it.

16. Body Glide.

17. Bring a car charger for your cell phone, iPod and/or Garmin.

18. Don’t overpack, whether it be running gear, food or other supplies. Bring only what you need. The extra bags/coolers/etc will get annoying.

19. Plan for fun. Ragnar isn’t just about running a race. It’s the experience. You’ll want to have some fun games or other activities you and your teammates can do – frisbee, whiffle ball, kickball, foursquare, etc.

20. Give your drivers/volunteers a thank you gift of some kind – whether it’s a gift certificate to their favorite store, a team shirt, or picking up their tab at the post-race party, make sure they know how much you appreciate them!

21. Car markers – have fun with them, but know that you will have to clean off your van before you return it to the rental agency.

22. Perhaps you should spring for a carwash on the ride home, rather than cleaning the van with baby wipes. Yeah, that happened.

23. Take lots of pictures and videos. You will want to remember the experience days…weeks…months…years later.

24. During night-time runs, especially along dark paths, wave your hand infront of your headlamp as you approach another runner. It’s a nice heads up that you’re behind them.

25. Designate one person from your van to bring a foam roller and/or running stick. See #18.

26. Bring your ID if you want to drink at the post-race party (trust me, you will).

27. Have each person in your van bring a refillable water bottle and/or whatever hydration method they use for running (fuel belt, Nathan handheld, Camelback, etc). Then, bring a few gallon jugs of water to use for refilling. You will save the environment by not purchasing a case of bottled water.

28. At every exchange, get out of your van and cheer on your teammates. They will appreciate your support, high fives, and ass-slaps.

29. Bring a hat or visor. It will keep the sun out of your eyes during the day and, if for some reason it rains, will keep the rain out of your eyes.

30. Plan for 1 cooler per van. You only need to keep perishable items cold, in addition to whatever you plan on eating or drinking next. See #18.

31. Have everyone in your van sign up to bring certain food/drink items, or designate one person to pick it all up. Stick to your list. This ensures you follow rule #18. (Have you noticed #18 is important?)

32. Get team shirts made or wear similar costumes. Think of it as a team uniform.

33. Follow safety guidelines established by Ragnar. Use the flags when crossing the street. Wear your headlamp, tail light and reflective vest. Make sure people see you!

34. Many legs of the race are classified as “non-support” legs. Pack your own race nutrition! I’m a fan of shot blocks.

35. Make sure someone in your van packs bug spray and sunscreen!

36. Have fun. Ragnar will be one of the craziest weekends of your life. Soak it all in and above all, enjoy it.

 * Why 36? Why 1 rule for each leg, of course!

Have you ever done a Ragnar Relay, Hood to Coast or a similar relay? What advice would you have for newbies?

Note: Read my 2011 Ragnar Journey here.

17 Replies to “Amy’s 36 Rules for Running a Ragnar Relay”

  1. Amy this awesome! So well stated. To the point! I’ve done 2 Ragnars and will be doing #3 Miami to Keys in Jan. 2013, I’m definitely sharing this list with our Team! Thanks so much!

  2. Great post and congrats! I added “complete a Ragnar Relay” to my life’s bucket list last year and I’ve been silently observing ever since. Reading this post has recharged my desire to actually go through with this. I’m thinking 2013 is the year!

  3. We just had our first team meeting for our Aug Ragnar last night. Some have run one before but many have not. I’ll send this around to the team!

  4. I’ve done 3 Ragnars so far and love them. I’m usually annual but this year I’m kicking it up to two in one year. So my only addition to your list would be Febreeze, My teammates nickname me Jae-Breezy Febreezey for a reason!!! Oh and I totally agree with the 3 outfit rule. I think my guy teammates thought I was being diva-ish until they had a bad case of sweaty swamp-a$$. Good job girl!!!

  5. Great advice!! My second Ragnar is next week (Madison-Chicago) and I agree with all of your tips. Most of my team this year are “first-time-ragnarians,” so I will post this to my site, just in case they don’t believe me (I’m a big fan of the baby wipes…must have baby wipes)! 🙂

  6. Great tips.. Thanks for sharing! I just finished my 3rd Ragnar, the Wasatch Back relay, yesterday and some of these tips I had never thought of and came in handy. You should come do the WB, it has some amazing scenery and is an amazing experience!

  7. Thank you for this!! I’m doing my first this year, so excited!! You inspire me, lady!! Keep on truckin, and say hi if you’re ever in Mpls!!

  8. Hi Amy,
    Next year will be my first time running Ragnar. Madison-Chicago. I am trying to find out, is it feasible to get a hotel for the van that will not be on the road or should we just camp out somewhere? All twelve of us will be doing this race for the first time. Thank u. L. Boogie.

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