Disclaimer: I received entry into 6 stages of the United Relay – blue route, to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
The United Relay (www.unitedrelay.org) is a 3 course relay from the west coast (Seattle, San Francisco, LA) to NYC, sponsored by AfterShokz, in partnership with over a dozen charity organizations. Joining a stage cost $50, and a group stage cost $25, plus you could set additional fundraising goals. I had the opportunity to run the relay with BibRave. I allocated my registration fee to The Trevor Project and opted not to fundraise because I’m already part of 2 other fundraisers this year. They offered a free, with $5 shipping, cotton t-shirt. I opted out since I have enough t-shirts. You can also order tech shirts (which I also do not need). You can read my BibRave review here.
I’m not gonna lie, heading into this relay I wish I hadn’t signed up. The logistics were complicated and it came only days after completing a half Ironman; I was tired! There wasn’t a lot of communication from the organizers until a couple weeks before my leg, where they asked if I could do more legs! Sigh. At first my response was a plain ‘no.’ The additional legs would require more time off work, which I didn’t have, and help from crew, which I also didn’t have. The United Relay eventually allowed people to bike legs of the event. At that point I was able to commit to additional legs because I felt it was safe/quicker to bike.
I opted to ride an additional 5 legs (51 miles) on the Silver Comet trail (a rail trail) from Cedartown (almost Alabama) to mile 0 of the trail in Smyrna (almost Atlanta). On my bike I knew I could start later in the afternoon and make it in time for the next leg, allowing me to get a whole day of work finished. The only complication at this point was finding a ride to the start. I wanted to leave my car at the finish of my legs and get a shuttle with my bike to the start in Cedartown. United Relay staff highly encouraged us to find our own crew for this. However, finding willing crew to drive me over 50 miles on a Thursday afternoon during rush hour in Atlanta was a difficult task. Luckily I secured 1 intrepid friend to do me a solid and take the adventure. In my opinion, since the Relay didn’t provide a lot of logistics and was asking us to complete additional legs, they should have offered any support possible, rather than have us relay on our own crew (which was hard to find).
I met Joel and Sarah, the Blue route support crew, at Cedartown. They had basically completed most of the relay themselves since there was very little participation on blue route. I’m so impressed with what they’ve been able to accomplish and understand why United Relay couldn’t guarantee crew support if they were the only 2 crew members for this route. I think if 1) United Relay planned these routes more in advance and 2)didn’t have overnight legs through major cities like Atlanta, Sarah and Joel would have had a lot more help along the way. Running the relay through Atlanta in the middle of the night was a major lost opportunity. The Atlanta running community is huge but most people are not willing to run by themselves in the middle of the night. If they had planned a Piedmont park route sometime after work we could have had a great group stage running through there I think. I’m hoping these are issues that are updated if they decide to do this Relay next year.
After my Silver Comet legs, I transferred my car to Kensington Station, the end of my night time route, and took the train to midtown to meet BibRave Pro Samantha for her route around Piedmont Park. The park is actually closed at night so we ran/biked on the roads around the park instead (again, missed opportunity United Relay!) and then I rode back to Kensington to complete my 9 mile leg #252. I made it home by 1am and somehow managed to not be a zombie at work on Friday. The holiday weekend definitely helped!
I’d love to see this Relay succeed better next year and hope the experience of the BibRave Pros along the route can be utilized to improve the event for next year. Despite some complications, I had a great time, it was a great workout, and I’ll plan to take part next year in some capacity.
Check out what other BibRave Pros say about the United Relay!