Today I did the Detroit Free Press Marathon Relay. This is my 4th year running a Detroit Free Press Race and my 2nd year doing the Relay. Overall it was a great run and a record year of 27,000 runners!
Our relay team had 5 legs. I ran the 1st leg, which was 6.2 miles. It started downtown Detroit on Fort Street, over the Ambassador Bridge and handed off to the 2nd relay leg in Windsor, Canada. Even though the bridge is a killer hill it is my favorite part of the race. The sun is rising while you run over the bridge and by the time you make it over you have already ran 4 miles!
After handing off in Canada I befriended a 1st leg relay member from another team, we walked it off for a half mile and then ran back through the tunnel (underwater mile) and dropped out at the 8 mile mark to head over to the relay exchange for the 2nd to 3rd legs.
Unfortunately we did not get an official time for our relay team. I’m not sure why that is, maybe someone didn’t have their “D” tag on right? I timed myself at about 48 minutes for the 6.2 . I’m pretty happy with that time. I focused on good form and keeping the effort the same going up the bridge.
I would recommend the Detroit races to anyone! I love the atmosphere and the course is fun and challenging. It’s international too, so overall a unique experience.
Here are some things I would recommend to other runners running the Detroit Free Press Marathon Relay:
1. Get down town early for your bus. There are busses that take legs 2, 4, and 5 to the relay exchange area and if you miss it you’re out of luck. Last year we got there later and it was a bit stressful. This year we got downtown and hour before the bus left and everything worked out well.
2. Bring warm clothes to wear. If you are legs 2-5 you will be waiting hours before you start. If you don’t want to mess with gear check you can always buy something from Goodwill/Salvation Army and leave it there.
3. If possible run back instead of taking the bus back to the relay reunion. If you have the energy I would not mess with the busses going back. I had a bad experience last year getting back from Canada and this year the other relay legs had trouble getting back due to traffic. This year I ran back from Canada and made it to the next relay exchange in about 30 minutes. It was fun to be able to cheer the 2nd runner coming in.
4. Plan a meeting point after. The relay reunion area is really nice but it gets congested fast!
5. It is pretty hard to find people at the relay exchange areas. There are 500 teams running so plan a head to device a system if you aren’t able to find the next relay runner. Pay attention to them yelling the numbers of the runners coming in.
There is a lot of waiting; waiting for your leg to start, waiting for busses, and waiting for your runners to finish. The relay is fun because it’s more camaraderie and you have enough energy to cheer on other runners. I’m going to do the Detroit Free Press next year. I’m not sure if it will be the international half or the relay but I will be there!