On June 27th, The Somerville Road Runners hosted the Club Challenge Cup Marathon Relay at the Tufts University Track. Also known as the 26×1 Relay, this race is unlike any other in the area. Not only is it a marathon on a track (fast & flat, guaranteed), but it is a distance relay with no 12 passenger van rentals required.
it does, however, require a captain to find 25 other teammates (with at least 10 women) to commit to running a 1600m leg - which is a much shorter distance than many club runners typically race. Since 1600m is just short of a standard mile (having a constantly shifting hand off zone would be a logistical nightmare), and we needed to make the race distance a full marathon, the race starts with a 600m “speed leg,” which combines the extra two tenths of a mile and the 9+ meters for each leg*. (Also, the fast start makes for great photos, as Tom Cole has shown.)
A logistical nightmare? At times! But it makes for a great morning for team spirit. This year, 23 relay teams lined up, which was the biggest field in the 11 year history of this race, dating back to the start down in Marshfield as hosted by the Marshfield Road Runners (previous largest was just last year with 17 relays).
Runners ranged in age from 7 (Maggie Dalton from Wicked Running Club ran 8:24 and Callan Grant from Informal Racing ran 8:38) to 76 (Jon MacKenzie from Greater Lowell edged John Parker from Tri-Valley by a second - 8:41 to 8:42).
The Cambridge Running Club was leading for most of the race with a balanced attack of men & women, but November Project’s last 3 runners slowly narrowed the gap. The final handoffs for both teams from leg 25 to 26 were separated by just 2 seconds. Andrew Rotz from November Project dropped the hammer and passed with 500m to go, closing with a sub-65 400 meter. Andrew broke the tape in 2:19:44, splitting a tactical 4:31. Andrew had set the men’s 1600m split record last year running a 4:26 - which three runners tied this year: Christopher Antunes (SRR), Michael Carlone (GBTC), and Adam Pacheck (GBTC).
Taking third as a team was defending champions and host club the Somerville Road Runners, who still hold the relay record time of 2:16:04 set in 2014.
The race is also a fundraiser for WalkBoston and Back on My Feet; Back on My Feet promotes the self-sufficiency of homeless populations by using running to build confidence, strength and self-esteem. (SRR donated a team to BoMF again this year). WalkBoston makes walking/running safer and easier in Massachusetts to encourage better health, a cleaner environment and vibrant communities, and has worked in over 103 communities across MA since 1990.
We’re already looking forward to another great relay next year!
1. 2:19:28 November Project(17)
2. 2:19:44 Cambridge Running Club - Mulder(3)
3. 2:23:59 Somerville Road Runners 1(19)
4. 2:28:59 HFC Striders (11)
5. 2:30:55 Greater Lowell Road Runners CrazyFastChickens(8)
6. 2:32:42 Tri-Valley Front Runners - Lightning(21)
7. 2:43:02 Somerville Road Runners 2(20)
8. 2:43:32 Community Running(5)
9. 2:44:03 Cambridge Running Club - Scully(4)
10. 2:50:06 Kier Byrnes Freedom Runners (13)
11. 2:51:08 Brighton Bangers(2)
12. 2:52:37 Informal Racing (12)
13. 2:53:27 Greater Lowell Road Runner - Green Machine(9)
14. 2:55:05 Parkway Running Club (18)
15. 2:57:35 Melrose Running Club (15)
16. 2:57:50 Greater Framingham Running Club (7)
17. 3:02:42 Mystic Runners (16)
18. 3:08:29 Wicked Running Club (23)
19. 3:10:26 Greater Lowell / Somerville Road Runners Scrambled Legs(10)
20. 3:14:55 Tri-Valley Front Runners - Thunder(22)
21. 3:20:44 Melrose Bootcamp (14)
22. 3:29:34 Back On My Feet(1)
DQ. 2:13:30 Greater Boston Track Club (6) - not enough women on squad
*Opening Leg Math:
0.2 miles = 321.8688 meters
26 runners each run 1600m
(1609.344 meters = 1 mile)
9.344 x 26 = 242.94400 meters
.2 miles = 321.8688 meters
321.8688 meters + 242.94400 meters = 564.8128 meters