Check In, Run, Finish

You’ve prepared and planned, and now the adventure is here! Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with what to expect from check-in in Sioux City to the finish line in Dubuque and everything in between.


Start times will be staggered on Friday. A week or two before the run begins, captains will be informed of start times based on the pace each team member submitted at registration.DSC_0207

TIP: To get the most accurate start time, be sure all runners submit a realistic pace at registration. It should not be a personal best, but instead a comfortable per-mile pace over a long distance in challenging conditions.

Teams must arrive at the starting area at least 30 minutes before the scheduled start time. Captains will be required to verify all team members have signed the waiver agreement and that the team is in possession of two reflective vests, two headlights, and two LED taillights. All team members must be present at check in.

A GPS will be issued to every team. It will be passed from runner to runner like a “baton.” The runner currently on the course should always wear the GPS. There is more detail about the GPS below.

At check-in you will get additional instructions from relay officials and then your first runner takes off.

Relay Iowa encourages silliness. Wear a costume. Sport a cape. Have everyone on the team dress alike. Write on your vehicles. Have a fantastic time and make people wonder who you are and what you are up to!

Checkpoints and Pit Stops

Relay Iowa uses a system of Checkpoints and Pit Stops to ensure the safety of participants and verify the progress of each team. The following towns will have either a Checkpoint or a Pit Stop: Sioux City, Anthon, Ida Grove, Lake City, Dayton, Jewell, Eldora, Hudson, Independence, Manchester, Epworth, and Dubuque.

As your current runner reaches a Checkpoint, located directly on the course, they should quickly check in with a volunteer before proceeding. While it is not required to arrive at a Checkpoint within a specified time frame, you should use arrival times to evaluate if your team is on pace.

Relay Iowa has also implemented Pit Stops. Each Pit Stop has a generous window of time for arrival that will be clearly defined in the Team Survival Guide. A runner from each team must arrive at some point during each Pit Stop window. If your runner will not arrive by the end time for a Pit Stop, you must drive ahead to reach it before closing. If your runner arrives prior to the opening of a Pit Stop, your team must stop and wait for it to open before proceeding. Pit Stops prevent teams from getting ahead of or behind race officials on the route.

We have determined this to the best way to provide services and support and ensure the safety of all of our runners. Much consideration has been taken to make sure these guidelines are fair and allow teams the greatest flexibility possible. The Race Director and other Relay Iowa officials will monitor your progress and contact you if any adjustments are needed.

Food/Sleep/Other Necessities

Due to the extended time and distance of this relay, each team will be responsible for providing most of its own food, IMG_0246beverages and “sleeping accommodations.” We have made arrangements with a few high schools in various towns to allow runners to sleep and shower in their gyms. If you need more comfort than that, you are free to arrange it. There is a list of hotels along the way in our FAQ section.

Teams will find restaurants and hotels along the way, but we encourage making this a true adventure by camping, grilling and “roughing it” as much as possible!

Three meals will be provided as part of runner registration. A spaghetti dinner will be served in Ida Grove on Friday evening. In Jewell, there will be pancakes for breakfast on Saturday morning. BBQ will be provided in Dubuque at the finish line on Sunday. After running and riding for hours, these meals will be the best food you have ever eaten!

Non-runners can typically enjoy the spaghetti dinner, pancake breakfast and BBQ at the finish line. However, because they are not registered participants, they will likely need to pay a fee to do so. Stay tuned for more details or contact us.

Look through the most recent Team Survival Guide for an idea of the information provided each year. Details will change year to year. However, you will see that we provide guidance on where to find food, bathrooms, showers, and places to get some rest. The Survival Guide for each year’s relay is finalized and released a week or two before the start of the event.

GPS/Cell Coverage

Each team will receive a GPS tracker before leaving Sioux City on Friday. It will be given to you fully charged, and the charge should last the entire run. It will come with written instructions to get it started and with a clip and/or belt.

Your fans will be able to track your team’s progress by following the GPS. Additional instructions will be provided in the Team Survival Guide. If you are running where there is poor or no cell coverage, the live tracking will directly reflect that poor cell coverage. Relay Iowa participants have experienced spotty cell phone coverage at times, especially on the far Relay Iowa 240western side of the state, so this may be an issue for GPS and team communication.

The Finish Line

Whew! You made it all the way from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River. We never doubted you for a minute! Most teams like to gather all of their runners just before the finish line and come in together. After all, it took all of you working together to make it this far!

When you arrive you will need to turn in your GPS equipment and we will give you some final instructions and snap a photo or two of the whole team. Then you are free to eat, drink and celebrate a huge accomplishment!