What’s not to love? ---- an opportunity to spend 30 or so quality hours with minimal (<4hrs) sleep in a van with 5 other sweaty, smelly friends (friends at least at the start …..) while intermittently running your ass off.
Friday, around 5am in the morning, you and your van mates show up at the top of Whiteface Mountain and one of you spends the next 8 miles trying not to fall on her/his face through a brutal downhill. It gets better from there (except for the 10-mile brutal uphill later).
The remaining 221 miles wind through some of the most scenic parts of the Adirondacks. There are 42 legs ranging from 2 miles to 12 miles and each runner covers 3 or 4 of them. The total mileage for each runner ranges from 14 to 24 over 30+ hours so there is really “something for everyone”. It all ends at the Saranac Brewery in Utica with FREE BEER
Roll your own. Each van is largely responsible for carrying everything you’ll need, including food. The relay does meander through some tourist spots where you’ll find markets and cafes/restaurants to have a real meal. There are a couple of exchanges with designated sleeping areas on the ground or in a high school gym where you can also catch a shower and a cheap meal.
There are plenty of volunteers on the course and there is good signage so you have to work really hard to get lost or off course. Most of these volunteers are local and the general vibe is that of a low-key party --- a few of the teams are competitive, the rest are just there for a nice stroll through the countryside and/or the FREE BEER.
12 person teams start registration in February and there is some unspecified cap, but in 2019 the race had 75 teams at the start and it was not full. When all the costs are added up, figure around $400-500 per runner, same as a Ragnar relay.
Yawn, you get a tee shirt. You get a medal that doubles as a beer bottle opener. You get a second medal if you ran the “honey badger” leg (that 10 mile uphill mentioned earlier). It, too, doubles as a beer bottle opener. All of that is immaterial because you REALLY do it for the FREE BEER.
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"Marathoning is just another form of insanity." John J. Kelly, winner of the 1952 Boston Marathon