For the second year in a row, I ran as a team in the Manchester City Marathon Relay this past weekend. Our team name is Runaway Moms. The relay consisted of 4 legs for a total mileage of 26.2 miles. The first leg, which I ran, was 4.6 miles, leg 2 – 8.5 miles, leg 3 – 5.7 miles, and leg 4 – 7.4 miles.
I will start with bib pick-up at the expo. The running expo was located on the grounds of SNHU. It was very easy and convenient to pick up your bib. There was plenty of parking. They had Apple Therapy there offering free Rock Taping. I had my knees taped. I always have a better run with a better recovery when I have my knees taped for long runs. They had merchandise available for purchase as well as clearance items which included Brooks running shoes. I ended up buying body glide, a sun visor, running fuel, and calf compression sleeves. Bib pick and up swag pick up was very easy. For swag, I received a long sleeve tech shirt. It is nice, but in my opinion fits snug.
Race day parking is easy. There is plenty of free parking around the City of Manchester on a Sunday morning. There are plenty of porta potties and bathrooms at a local hotel. We stayed warm and waited in the hotel until closer to the start time.
The governor, Chris Sununu, was at the race. It was being aired on WMUR. There were 6 countries represented and I believe they said 25 states. This race is a BQ (Boston Qualifier) so there are some elite athletes that run this marathon.
I was running the first leg of the race, so I lined up at the start line according to my race pace. The race started on time after the National Anthem. I didn’t feel like it was an overly crowded race by any means. The start felt crowded until runners started to scatter and separate from each other. The first leg was not particularly difficult. There was some elevation gain, and a steep downhill. There were water/Gatorade stops at about every 2 miles. The relay exchange area was clearly marked with a timer, kick plate, and inflatable entry. Runners waited for their exchange according to their bib number. I finished my leg in an 8:47 pace, which I very proud of. Last year, for the same leg, I ran it in a 9:13 pace.
Now, I can speak about leg 2 and leg 3. I am training for the Disney Marathon and I moved some training weeks around and kept on running for a total of 20 miles. Leg 2 is a beast! Hills, hills, and more hills. I would not recommend this as a first time marathon to anyone. I honestly felt like leg 2 was harder than the NH 10 miler which is known for its hills.
Leg 3 was flatter in comparison to leg 2. About two miles or so of this leg were on the Hookset Rail Trail. The trail was a bit of a mess because we have had a lot of rain. There were large puddles to have to navigate around. I saw one runner take pretty bad fall. Similar to leg 1, legs 2 and 3 had aid stations around every 2 miles. Around mile 8, they were passing out gels and bananas. I grabbed myself a gel. They were offering Cliff Gels. There were porta potties along the way as well, but I can’t recall how often they were available.
Now, onto the bummer part of the race for our team. The address that Millennium Running had for exchange 3 was not accurate. Either that or the GPS kept leading my team in the wrong direction. Our leg 3 runner was waiting for 14 minutes before my team finally arrived. That added 14 minutes onto our final time. Our team would have placed 5th overall out of 44 teams. #Goals for next year! To Millennium’s defense, they do have a shuttle to shuttle runners to leg 3, but we chose to drive it. We drove it no problem last year. Hey, at least we would not have actually placed 3rd or better. That would have really bummed me out. We all ran our hearts out too.
There was some crowd support along the way, but not what you would expect in a bigger city Marathon like Chicago or Boston. Having crowd support is always motivating and encouraging. I got encouragement from a supporter to start running. I was on the walking portion of my interval when I was going past him. There was also a band playing along the way. At the leg 3 exchange, there was a DJ. Of course, at the finish was another DJ.
There were plenty of volunteers along the way, so you never had to worry about getting lost along the route.
At the finish, there was pizza, soup, yogurt, bananas, and protein bars available to runners. Every runner received a large finisher’s medal. Runners were also wrapped in thermal blankets at the finish line. There was the usual water and Gatorade at the end. There were 4 massage tables set up with free massages available to runners. I was going to get a massage, but wanted to meet up with my friends for a beer and more food. Runners were given a beer ticket to use at several of the bars. We went to the Thirsty Moose for our beers and food after. As always, Millennium will be emailing me my race day photos and finisher video.
I have a few relay tips to offer:
- Have a teammate remove the ankle timer from your leg and put it onto the next runner’s leg. When you get done running, it is a struggle to quickly make the exchange yourself.
- Download the Road ID app so that you can track how far your runner has gone and if it nearing the time you need to meet up at the relay exchange.
- Have fun!
Overall, this is a great race, and I plan to run with my relay team again. I won’t be running 20 of the course again, and I don’t plan to run it is a full marathon. Running it as a relay is a lot of fun. It really puts pressure on you to run as hard as you can because your teammates are counting on you.