- Good for mixed-ability groups
- Great for speed and a bit of competition
- Ideal for groups of 3-12 runners
- Works well in parks and on the running track
A continuous relay is one in which each participant runs several times. They're good fun to take part in and very inclusive.
A set of flexi-cones to mark out changeover points. You'll need one fewer than the number of runners. Naturally-occuring markers such as trees, or positions on a track, can be used instead.
Assign each runner in the group a consecutive number and tell them to remember it.
Identify a loop around the park/track to use for the relay and set up changeover points at suitable places. The number of changeover points should be one less than the number of runners taking part and they should be numbered consecutively. Place a flexi-cone at each changeover point. Alternatively, identify natural markers which can serve as changeover points.
Each runner stands at the changeover point matching their number except for the runner with the highest number, who joins the first runner at the first changeover point.
The first runner begins by running to the second runner at their changeover point. The first runner hands over and then waits at this point while the second runner runs to the next changeover point.
Each runner waits until the runner from the previous changeover point reaches them, and they then run to the next changeover point and wait there.
Play can continue indefinitely, but waiting until the final runner has returned to the start point means that everybody gets to run between each relay leg and is a good point at which to have a recovery.
In the case of the continuous relay race variation, a changeover protocol must be agreed. A high five usually works best.
A minimum of three runners (i.e. two changeover points) is required. For the special case of a two-person relay see our paarlauf session, and for the special case of three athletes see our three-person continuous relay session.
Beyond six runners (i.e. five changeover points) runners can end up spending a little too long waiting/recovering between their relay legs. A way of accommodating more than six runners is by having a continuous relay race.
In this variation each changeover point is associated with an exercise. Upon arrival at a changeover point runners perform the exercise until they are relieved by another runner. They then run to the next changeover point and relieve the runner waiting there.
Especially when there are several runners, and wait time between runs can be long, some exercises can become quite demanding, so choose with care.
Continuous Relay Race
Runners are organised into two teams so that there are two or more runners at each changeover point. The first team home wins.
Be sure that each runner is clear on who exactly their teammates are (especially the runners they are handing over to/from) or confusion will ensue!
In the case an odd number of odd runners, an extra changeover point can be included for one of the teams.
Real World Example
There is a group of nine athletes and the session is taking place in a park with a gravel path of about 500 meters around the perimeter.
The athletes are split into two teams: one with four members and the other with five members. Each team member is given a number between one and five. Athletes are told to remember both their number and their teammates.
Three red flexi-cones are placed at roughly regular intervals on the path enclosing the park. A separate four blue flexi-cones are also placed at roughly regular intervals. The first cones are placed at the same point. This is changeover point one and also the start point.
The changeover points marked by the red cones are assigned numbers from one to three and the changeover points marked by the blue cones are assigned numbers from one to four.
Athletes one and four from team one are positioned at changeover point one. Athletes one and five from team two are also positioned at this changeover point.
The remaining two athletes from team one are each assigned to the changeover point marked by a red cone that matches their number.
The remaining three athletes from team two are each assigned to the changeover point marked by a blue cone that matches their number.
The relay begins and the first athletes begin running. The athlete from team one runs to their team mate at red changeover point two and the athlete from team two runs to their teammate at blue changeover point two.
These athletes now wait at their changeover point while the athletes previously waiting run to the next one.
Athletes continue running until they arrive back at the changeover point at which they started.
Since there are three relay legs delimited by red cones, each athlete from team one will run three times. There are four relay legs delimited by blue cones so each athlete from team two will run four times, but they will be running less distance per leg than athletes from team one.
Vary the relay leg lengths by setting up changeover points at different distances. Since each runner will be running each leg everybody will end up running the same distance overall.
Ensure good traction on wet or slippy days. Parks especially often have tight bends which can be dangerous when running at speed.
Make sure that there is room for athletes to decelerate after handing over. E.g. don't position changeover points next to a fence.
Since the no rest variation may involve a range of different exercises it's important to make sure that everybody is comfortable doing each one. Take injuries and niggles into consideration.
Remember to warm up before your session and cool down afterwards. Runners often get competitive in relay situations so a thorough warm up is vital.