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home > training > the new england relay, an adventure--running 220 miles, six states, overnight with 12 runners, 36 legs

The New England Relay, an Adventure--Running 220 Miles, Six States, Overnight with 12 Runners, 36 Legs
This will be the second running of the highly acclaimed New England Relay, June 22-23, 2013 from West Glocester in northwest Rhode Island to Kittery, Maine near the Portsmouth Harbor —your team, 12 runners, 220+ miles, dozens of towns, 36 legs, about 26 to 30 hours. It will be an adventure running in all six New England states second day of summer.

The New England Relay, an Adventure--Running 220 Miles, Six States, Overnight with 12 Runners, 36 Legs

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By Skip Cleaver
Posted Monday, 17 December, 2012

There are many wonderful sights and enticing points of interest along this scenic overnight trek across New England. It’s a 36-leg journey through dozens of towns, along captivating scenery, and quintessential New England forests, villages, farms and waterways. Runners will experience mountains, river valleys, (bridges—perhaps a covered bridge or two), a variety of towns and small cities, the seashore, sunset, sunrise and a wonderfully fulfilling sense of camaraderie and accomplishment. This is the longest overnight relay in the USA, and you and your team should not miss it.

This relay first ran in 2011 with great success, but was not able to run in 2012 because of construction and permitting issues. But they are back by popular demand and everything is in place for June, 2013.

The New England Relay is the first to include all six New England States (the first such relay to include so many states), starting in Rhode Island and touching Connecticut before heading northwest into Massachusetts and the Connecticut River Valley. The Connecticut is New England’s largest river and borders or flows through four states. The relay will cross Massachusetts south to north heading into Vermont in the Brattleboro area before turning east to cross the width of New Hampshire heading to the sea. Upon reaching the Atlantic beaches the course heads northeast along the coast into Portsmouth and across the Piscataqua River into Kittery, Maine for the finish and the end-of-event celebration. Yes, there will be quite a party because this, my friends, is very different and truly a unique running adventure.

No other current overnight relay hits so many states and crosses such a varied landscape and route. Relays touching even two states are rare, let alone six. Along the way, this event showcases all that is good about New England—which is especially beautiful in early summer (summer begins the day before the relay). It is the summer solstice, so days are near their longest and this time it coincides with the full moon (June 23).

There are such varied views and landscapes from idyllic rural fields and pastures to long stretches of beautiful forest. There are small villages and college towns, interesting cities and beautiful parks. There are mountain vistas, working farms, ponds, lakes and busy harbors. It crosses three major New England Rivers—the Connecticut, the Merrimack, and the Piscataqua. Participants will want to bring a camera and smart phone to capture the essence of New England.

There are excellent instructions on the Website as to how to get to the start and information on where to stay, where to rent vans, etc. so we won’t revisit that here. Let’s just say the start is 45 minutes from Providence, an hour from Boston and 1.5 hours from both Manchester, NH and Hartford, CT. Manchester is probably the best bet for round trip air since it is 1.5 from the start and one hour from the finish. Boston Logan International would be a good alternative.

Both the start and finish are reasonably close to Interstate 95.

Logistics Can be Fun too
Your course will be quintessential New England. The race handbook has terrific descriptions of each leg, with length of each, cumulative distance, turns, handoffs, elevation profile, and maps— very impressive and easy to follow.

There are several transition areas that will accommodate tents and sleeping bags, although some may wish to sleep in the vans. Overnight accommodations, if desired, are available at Brattleboro, VT and Keene, NH (both near half way), or there are many options near Manchester, an hour west of the finish by auto, though most would reach this point (3/4 through) in the very early morning hours—however, if you plan well you could drive ahead and sleep there and wait for your team to come through the area.

That is part of the fun in such an endeavor—planning logistics, transfers and handoffs, which is itself part of the competition.

Teams will likely enjoy very comfortable running weather, a spectacular sunset, and phenomenal sunrise. Somehow out on the road these experiences are enhanced by the effort and by the camaraderie. The average high temperature along the course is 78 on June 22, with an average low of 57, and a mean of 67. The sun will set at 8:27 p.m. and rise at 5:08 a.m.

Who Will Run, and How?
The 220-mile New England Relay is modeled after other overnight long distance relays, except it is longer than all others. The course is divided into 36 legs with designated exchange zones at the end of each leg. There are two main categories for teams to choose from: regular 12-person teams (7 to 12 persons) or ultra teams consisting of 6-runners who run either a 6x1 or 6x6 configuration. Most teams will be simply running friends looking for a different and exciting adventure. Corporate and Club teams are also encouraged to participate.

Planning and organizing for a 12-person team to run about 220 miles at the best possible pace is a great company team builder. Meeting this challenge is about as much fun as you can have in team running. Running clubs and companies can compete with others, or contest for their own internal bragging rights. Many companies pay tens of thousands of dollars for such team building—and other methods are likely much less effective.

This relay is designed for runners of all abilities. Whether you are an ultra-marathoner or a beginner, there is a spot for you in the New England Relay. There are six classifications, including women’s, men’s and mixed regular teams, and women’s, men’s, and mixed ultra teams. And there are divisions within those classifications: Open, Masters (40 and over), Senior Masters (50 and over). Anyone can participate.

Distance and Difficulty
The 36 legs in the New England Relay average 6.2 miles. The shortest is 3.0 (two of those), and the longest is 11. The minimum total distance for three legs is 14.3 miles. The maximum total is 26.2 for one runner (the “Marathon Competition”). All others will be in between, depending on selection. Some legs are classified as easy, based on distance and elevation change; most are rated moderate; and a few are classified as hard.

Two team support vans—six runners each--will carry runners from exchange to exchange and will trade off every six legs at the van transfer areas.

Headlamps or flashlights and reflective vests will be worn during darkness, and runners may have “pacers” run with them during the nighttime legs. Vans will be able to “shadow” runners and keep them in sight for safety and directions.

There will be music and party atmosphere at several of the van exchanges (some will not sleep at all), and the 220-mile party will be in full swing throughout as runners speed on through the day and night, logging the tough legs and the easy ones too.

It sounds intimidating, but taking on one leg at a time is doable, and you can enjoy supporting your teammates while you get geared up for your legs—only three runs and an average of 18.5 miles for each person. NO problem!

The more competitive types may want to take the “Marathon” positions. That is, there are two positions that run a total of 26.2 miles in three legs. There will be prizes for the fastest cumulative time for all three, the “Marathon” total of 26.2.

Proceeds from the New England Relay will benefit the American Liver Foundation and support their vital work. Visit for information.
This Relay is different! It is well organized and well planned. The inaugural run went like clockwork, and race management has really thought about every detail to make teams and individual runners safe and happy. Join this running party on June 22 and 23 and enjoy a unique experience with 11 close friends and teammates—such camaraderie and enjoyment is totally different from other running events. Then you can tell all other friends and family and impress them with what you and your team accomplished. Get YOUR team together and plan to be a part of the unique New England Relay!



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