A relay run is a staple of the vast majority of sporting events - from the school sports days to the incredible standard of the Olympic Games.
Relay races are held in a number of sports competitions including a relay run, swimming, and skiing, and always generate a high level of excitement and nervousness as they are a staple for both amateur and professional sports categories.
There is a range of distances that athletes compete at, including the 4x 100 meter race and the 4x 400 meter race, although distances do vary depending on the event. These relay games take place in various locations all over the world in a range of professional levels. This blog will focus on relay running races, the variety of races available, and how you can turn your attention to becoming a competitive athlete.
What is a relay race and relay running?
Simply put, a relay race or relay games features a set number of runners (normally four) who run a set distance (normally the 4x 100 meter race or the 4x 400 meter relay run) before passing the relay baton on to the next runner.
Relay games take place for both men and women and are a true highlight for most sporting events. A relay race can take place on both the track and field, depending on the competition and runners.
Distances include the 4x 100 meter race and 4x 400 meter race and each relay runner will usually run the same amount of distance. Even though the vast majority of runners who partake are competitive within their fields (they quite often partake in the 100 metre and 400 metre individual competitions), training must be taken seriously due to the technical aspects of the relay games.
The athletes chosen for the running race should have a knowledgeable team who can provide adequate training and advice, with diet information as well as relevant drills and practice courses.
The starting point
Arguably the most important part of any relay running is the starting point. This is true for both the 4x 100 meter race and the 4x 400 meter relay run. The first runner should be the best starter and with the technical know-how to use the blocks well. The first runners will all start in their individual lanes and should not veer into the lanes next to them at any point.
The first runner will run the distance required, baton in hand, before the second runner starts to pull off at a jog before receiving the baton safely and cleanly within the designated distance. This area is usually marked as a box and if the baton is dropped or received out of this box, the relay team is disqualified from the race. This is why it's imperative that the sprint team is experienced at running relays and have practiced extensive baton handling.
The relay baton should be held at the bottom to ensure the cleanest transition to the next runner. It should be passed up into the hand of the teammate, with the top of the relay baton hitting the hand first. During the second lap, runners may race in the first lane to ensure the least running distance to compete against the other competitors.
The final runner should be the quickest of the team - if there is any ground or positions to make up, the fastest runner should be able to do this. The final runner should finish strongly and eagerly across the line with the relay baton firmly in-hand. Ar the end of the relay race, the baton should be handed to the running race officials. The relay team should have a great relationship and trust where the end goal is to win the relay race.
How to be a competitive relay racer and relay running experience
Becoming a competitive relay racer takes practice and dedication - relay running requires professionals to run multiple times a day to ensure maximum speed and technical ability. Relay running requires that runners' diets may be considered and it is likely that athletes will be experts in their dedicated running distance competitions before competing in the team relay race.
Competitors should also consider the terrain of the race such as whether it'll be a clay track or a grassy path and practice accordingly. To become a true competitive team, runners are advised to take part in a range of competitions to increase fitness levels and to manage technical aspects of the race. An ideal body type for athletes when relay running should be fit, lean, and muscular somatotypes who have the stamina and speed to complete the distance required strongly.
Teams are also encouraged to fully research a location before committing to a competition to ensure the best possible team is chosen to compete in a relay run. Traveling to any location can be exhausting, especially when combined with hard training so relay running should be taken seriously and shown the respect the sport deserves.
Conclusion of a relay race
Running a relay race competitively to a high technical standard takes a great deal of time and practice, regardless of whether athletes are running 4x 100 meter or 4x 400 meter races.
When considering the prospect of competing professionally, you should ensure that you're running with other fast runners who have vast relay running competition experience, relay baton handling experience and good team spirit. You should also ensure that you have a knowledgeable team around you for guidance and advice and practice as much as you possibly can.
There are numerous types of running races and relay games for amateurs but arguably, none offer the same level of excitement and competitive spirit as a relay race for athletes. It is however important to remember that relay running should offer plenty of fun for men, women, and children who are keen to partake in a great sport.