Why Long Distance Relay Races (LDR’s) are so Popular

Running With the Pack:

Why Long Distance Relay Races (LDR’s) are so Popular

By, Tim Skjellerup on October 21, 2015


One of the fastest growing and most popular style of running road races is the long distance, van-supported relay race (or LDR). These races vary in distance and location but there are some commonalities that you see across all the races.

Click here to find out more about how LDRs work:  P2B Race Overview

The most distinguishing factor of the LDR is the unique comradery created when you put 1 or 2 van-loads of teammates together for 36 hours to accomplish a common goal of completing a long distance race. LDR’s have been often described as a favorite among participants competing in all different distances and types of events..and based on my experience I would agree!

These races have numerous repeat runners, often with entire teams completing multiple races together in any give year. That speaks for itself! What is it about the LDR that people find so appealing? What is it that keeps entire teams coming back year after year to multiple races? Yes, a safe, well-organized race on an amazing course can certainly help. However, this is not the main driving factor for the explosive growth in the LDR arena. When I asked some people that have done multiple races what keeps them coming back they all replied with very similar answers:

“It’s the experience of accomplishing something great with friends. Friends that I had and new friends that I have never met before. That is the beautiful part of a race like this.”

“You’re all sore, your all sleep deprived, but you’re doing it together. There’s something about pulling an all-night run with a group of people that helps you build a bond that’s hard to find anywhere else.”

“I love knowing that my team is there for me. I never realized that running could be such an amazing team experience.”

“I realize that it’s like the relationships you form in boot camp, its nothing that you can explain to people. It just has to be experienced.”

These are just some of the responses that I received when I asked what it is about LDR’s that makes people keep coming back.  It’s that simple. It’s the people, it’s the relationships, it’s the bond that can only be formed from accomplishing a challenge as a team.

In fact, science has discovered that one of the factors that can affect our longevity the most is the community that we are regularly a part of. Simply stated: When we come together with people that we like, and have fun together on a regular basis, our brains are flooded with feel good chemicals. These chemicals  relieve stress, boost our immune system, decrease inflammation, and create a sense of overall wellness. When you combine that with the endorphins that get released from running (a.k.a the runner’s-high) not once, but multiple times over the course of 24-36 hours in a LDR, you have an awesome combination that can literally change your brain chemistry in a positive way.

In a society where people are over-stressed, under-exercised, and isolated in office cubicles or their vehicles on a long commute to work- it’s no wonder people keep coming back to an event that makes them feel alive! Today people are starving for real emotional connections with friends and ADVENTURE. We are designed to be pack hunters. We are designed to be running the country side in the elements realizing what it is that makes us alive. If you have never had the experience of being part of a relay team I strongly encourage you to find a team to join or put a team together yourself. If the thought of a full 200+ relay seems daunting, here are two things to keep in mind.

  1. You’re not in this alone. The entire race distance is split up among your other teammates.
  2. There are other options. The Peak to Brew Relay held in northern and central New York has a full 230+ mile relay option and it also has a half relay option where all 12 runners split up the second half of the full relay course (110+ miles). The half relay is an excellent way for teams of new runners to enjoy the benefits of the LDR experience without feeling like you have bitten off more than you can chew.

Weather you’re a competitive runner looking for the next big challenge, or a weekend warrior looking for a good time with your friends, the LDR is an amazing experience that will give you the opportunity to challenge yourself and build some long lasting relationships along the way.

Sign up for the Peak to Brew Relay and have the ultimate relay experience!


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