Want to run a marathon without bothering with all 26.2 miles? A marathon relay is the race for you. Marathon relays have all the joys of your standard 5k or 10K race, but with the added bonus of team camaraderie. And with the right team, you just might run your fastest marathon!


  1. Your first charge is to find a group of runners with similar goals: To aim for a certain finish time, to burn some calories or to simply finish and snag a t-shirt. Obviously, if you want to compete for hardware, you’ll need your fastest friends
  2. Be upfront about the team goals: There’s nothing worse than signing up for a “fun” run and then being hounded about two-a-day track workouts.
  3. Decide who runs which leg. Most relay marathons are divided into four or five legs of between three and nine miles each. Some races have evenly distanced legs, but most events split them into varied lengths.
  4. Play to your team’s strengths. In traditional track relays, the strongest runner serves as anchor and runs the last leg. In a marathon relay, the hardest leg is not always the last, so plan accordingly. Let your sprinters take the 5k and your climbers take the hills
  5. Train for your specific distance. For detailed help, visit the eHows links below.
  6. Practice running at the approximate time your leg will start. Your leg may begin two hours after the gun, and if you don’t typically train at 10 a.m. you’ll need to experiment with pre-race eating and other rituals.
  7. Know how fast your teammates will run and be ready for the hand-off. A point-to-point race (as opposed to one where all legs begin at the start/finish) will require extra logistical planning to get teammates to their hand-off points in time. Make a plan long before race day.
  8. If you are lucky, teams will pass wristbands instead of batons. When it comes time to hand off, be as smooth as possible. It pays to practice beforehand with your team.

Tips & Warnings

  1. Plan your pre-run trip to the porta-potty. Expect your teammates to run faster than they predicted so you won’t be standing in line when your team number is called.
  2. If you have any health concerns, consult your physician before undertaking any athletic event.