The Zilker Relays is a tradition for the Austin running community and is always held every year on the first Friday after Labor Day. The event is a 4-person, 10 mile relay held at Zilker Park. The event was started 20 years ago by my new friend, Paul Perrone.
Last year the Circle C Run Club had four teams participate in the Zilker Relays. This year we had eight teams participate. And we showed up in style. We had fully stocked tents and the teams had a blast hanging out with and competing against each other.
I had to work all day at the Zilker Relays since the event is now owned and operated by Austin Runners Club. I was able to peel away for enough time to race with my own team (we took second in Masters). That was an 18 hour day for yours truly and, unfortunately, I didn’t get to do much hanging out with my own run club.
It wasn’t until two days later that I was finally able to sit down and look at the results from the Circle C Run Club teams.
Two of our teams had a friendly rivalry and I was really curious about one of the team’s namesake. I came to find out that team “Beat Scott” did, in fact, beat Scott’s team “Deflated Lungs.”
Two days after the Zilker Relays and with the intent to stir the pot a little, I posted the rival teams’ results in our run club’s Facebook group. I went on writing without doing much thinking and wrote, “I sense and propose a rematch. A rivalry. A new tradition that spans the contempt among just two teams. We should hold the Circle C Relays. But it’ll be bigger. And badder. And probably have a better name.”
I went on to jokingly propose that our relays be 20 miles in distance (twice the distance of the Zilker Relays) and, instead of a baton, the teams would pass a rubber rattlesnake. Our neighborhood has a lot of rattlesnakes, hence that brilliant idea.
That Facebook post garnered a lot more excitement than I’d intended. So I thought about it for a hot minute, and two days later I created the Rattlesnake Relays.
It took three weeks to create a multi-team event from absolutely nothing. We made a few adjustments from my original idea. We decided to make the relay a 12 mile course instead of 20. Our run club is very inviting and inclusive, so we didn’t want this to be a traditional race based on fastest times. We decided that the winning team would be determined by how close they came to their predicted finish time. We implemented a staggered start so all of the teams would finish at approximately the same time. And to thwart any sandbagging, cheating, and/or strategies, I reserved the right to implement an over/under. I would add or subtract somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes to each teams estimated finish time.
Captains had to register their teams. Each runner paid $10 to participate in the relays. I bought a bunch of rubber rattlesnakes and we provided coffee, donuts, muffins, sandwiches, water, Gatorade, bananas, mandarin oranges, bars, and beer for everyone. I bought $25 Fleet Feet gift cards, Balega running socks, and Goodr sunglasses for each member of the winning team. We had tents, tables, a complex scoring and timing system, a team of volunteers to help make the relays happen, and a bunch of people that came out to our neighborhood community center on a Saturday morning and had a great time with their friends.
We had 14 teams register, 50 runners, a bunch of spectators, and the local physical therapy clinic came out and had a vendor booth for our runners.
The Rattlesnake Relays started out as a joke, and turned into an awesome event that only took three weeks to throw together. A huge thanks go to Elise and our friends Frank, Jen, and Lindsey for stepping up and helping to make this thing happen.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t stressful as all get-out, and I told everyone that I wasn’t going to do this again. But I know we will. The smiles on people’s faces makes it all worth it.
Some great photos are below. All of the photos can be see here.