With our Ragnar Napa Valley race quickly approaching, our team thought The Rock The Creek Relay would be a fun practice race. While there were many aspects to this relay that were fabulous, there were a few things I thought could use some improvement.
Rock The Creek Relay
Most of the Rock The Creek Relay takes place in the beautiful Rock Creek Park right outside of Washington, DC. Teams of either 6 or 3 (Ultra team) take on ~27 miles of running. There are 6 running legs split into 4-5 mile segments. We chose to do 3 teams of 3 runners each so that we would all get a sense of what it felt like to run multiple run legs.
If you have ever done a relay race where you had to run more than once, you are most likely aware that’s it a lot tougher than running the same amount of miles straight through. Well, that’s my opinion anyway!
The Pros and Cons of the Rock the Creek Relay:
Parking and registration was a breeze. 57 teams total were registered some with 3 runners, some with 6. With staggered start times, there were only 6 people total at our start. Our wave went off with little fanfare and our 3 teams stuck together through the first leg.
The course was almost entirely within the beautiful Rock Creek Park near Rockville, Maryland. On a cool, fall like day it was the perfect venue. Easy to follow driving directions were given to the team so they could meet up at the transition with their runner and set the next runner off. The route was out and back so not too much driving was needed.
Handing off at the exchange points was a breeze and we all cheered on the other runners coming through. There were no aid stations or trash cans at any of the exchanges which would have been nice. All the exchanges did have porta potties for use.
Running a team relay has a totally different vibe than a solo race. Having the opportunity to cheer your friends on in between runs is a unique team building experience.
My first leg of about 4.4 miles went pretty well and I continued using the run/walk intervals I have been practicing. Because this is a relatively short race mileage wise, there is not much time in between runs to recover or eat etc. I munched on an apple and some nuts in between. We brought along a foam roller and tried to keep loose between legs.
Not going to lie, by the time my second run was up I was not feeling it. Legs were heavy and stiff and I was wondering why this was feeling so hard. Side note, while doing longer relay races like Ragnar, runners have up to 10 hours between runs so much more recovery time.
By the time we got to the last 2 transitions of the Rock The Creek relay, the volunteers were already packing up and had started taking down directional signs. Have to admit, this was kind of demoralizing as we were still “in the race”. Having the last leg of relay, when I got near the finish there were very few volunteers to direct me through the park towards the finish. Many of the signs were already gone and the volunteers were nowhere to be seen.
While there was plenty of food and drinks at the finish, there was no “fanfare” or medals or anything. You sort of just finished.
A fun morning and great team building and practice for our Ragnar race. Fun to once with my crew but not sure I would do it again.
Relay races-love them or hate them? Think it is harder to run twice or do the distance all at once?