Captaining a relay team

I think relay races are tons of fun. They are like a combined destination wedding of best friends and a race weekend. In that, you get to hang out with some people who are truly awesome, run several mini-races, and travel to somewhere you maybe never thought you’d ever want to go (usually on the way to somewhere you do want to be).

For this relay team, I was chosen as captain. Or was defaulted to captain. Which became slightly awkward when I started dating one of my teammates. Trust me, he’s getting no preferential treatment; he has one of the worst leg set-ups, in my opinion.

So things to know-
1. Speed does not matter as much as personalities. Personalities have to mesh well, as there will be times when, for instance, you ask for a banana at 5am, and demand someone search for a freaking banana because I know I grabbed two bunches, and unless you turned into a freaking monkey back there, there are more bananas. Most people wouldn’t mesh well with me.
2. People like leadership. People like to get some direction. So you should email them daily with tasks. Oh, and these emails need to be extraordinarily long, and not get to the point until the last couple lines. Bonus points if you forget to attach a document you reference.
3. Organization is key. You must enjoy (or just be good at) organizing to keep track of everything. You want to have a list of who has paid you (& how much/ what for- hotel, van, registration). Personally, I used google docs, and had an excel sheet. This came in really handy when I would randomly run into a team member, and they would hand me $100 cash at a bar. I could simply open my google drive on my iPhone and add $100 to the “paid” column for that particular person. On another note- having either disposable savings account or a high credit card limit helps too (At one point, everyone on the team owed me about $1500 for the registration [$1100], plus van rental [$350? I have it saved somewhere how much that was…]). Either way, without an organization system, I would have gone crazy. It was stressful at times as it was.
4. Remember these are adults. Although you can make suggestions about what or how they should pack, they are grown-ups, and if they forget necessities like underwear, they can deal with consequences (commando). You will want to email 1000 times between signing up and race day, and probably kick your best friends when they do not respond with a simple “4pm sounds good” or when one person of the six people in your van respond “430 works better” and the other four are mute.
5. Create a packing list the week-of. This will help you visualize what is left. You clearly don’t need to buy a box of trash bags. Likely, everyone has a trash can at home, and have a few bags lying around. If everyone brings two bags, you should be covered. As captain, you get veto power as the van begins to fill up.
6. You will need access to a printer. Handbook, course map, race worksheet, etc. Although you could lug around a lap top; it’s much easier to just print it all off.
7. There will likely be the following types of people-
The vet. He has done 5 relays, but refuses to say much when you ask him for a breakdown of what to expect in front of the group. He will likely be one of the “non-responders” to emails. The good thing is you can give him whatever leg, and he will run it 🙂
The newbie. This person may be new to running, in general. This person is most likely to get injured while training, so it’s best to calm their nerves. They are anxious to be a part of the team, so they will tell you their injury is nothing; until after their first leg, then struggle through the second leg; and finally someone will have to pick up their final leg. (You always hope to be wrong thinking you will have to pick up their leg, but you may).
The disappearing act. This person is the last person to pay for everything (even though he may have been the first person signed up), he will not respond to emails, texts, or facebook notifications. You will wonder if he is still planning on showing up when you told him to. But, he will likely show up, and kick butt on some of the longer/harder legs. And he is usually someone you want on your team again.
The pack-rat. This person plans everything. They are one of the first people to sign up, and ask you thousands of questions about when/where/etc. They will likely bring enough food to feed an army, and enough toilet paper and wet wipes for an oversized newborn. You will likely have to reign this person in some with their packing strategy. If someone mentions a bringing a tent, hammock, or yoga mat, this is your pack-rat. You will tell them you are all bringing X, Y, and Z; but they will bring their own box of food, two rolls of toilet paper, a large duffle bag, enough wet wipes for the octo-mom, several foam rollers/ massage sticks, an extra first aid kit, an extra relay handbook, several car chargers, and possibly their best friend. Basically, bear with this person- they are just excited to relay. And you can usually talk them out of bringing one of these options, but likely not all, without major drama.
All of these people are essential to a relay team. You will need the vet to pick up an extra leg when the n00b develops a stress fracture. The disappearing act will generally be doing something for the van, or just occupying less space in the vehicle. Likely, the pack rat will pack something that you need- like a 12-pack of beer in her third pair of shoes.

But, most importantly, remember to enjoy the race; even though you are captaining the vessel. Also, people should get the free drinks for the captain at the end- they deserve it. And hey, they’re free! 🙂

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