Relay FAQ

Relay FAQ

General Information

If you're not quite ready for the marathon or half-marathon, then join your coworkers, friends or family and participate in Mercedes Marathon 5 Person Relay! The race will start at the same time as the Mercedes Marathon & Half-Marathon. Each relay team will consist of 5 people, all being at least 12 years of age on race day. All relay team members will receive a race weekend, short sleeved technical running shirt, a finish line amenity TBD and smaller version of the Mercedes Marathon finisher's medal. Team members must submit all five entries together and must designate one team captain. You must have four members to call it a team and participate, but only teams with 5 members are eligible for awards. You will need to send only one team member to the Expo to pick up race packets. They will be given out as a team, not as individual participants.

Click on a question to view the answer

1. What do I get for our entry fee?

2. Are there participant limits?

3. How do I register for the races?

4. How much does the race cost?

5. What are the different categories for the relay?

6. How many members are on the marathon relay team and what are the distances?

7. How do I know for sure if our team registered?

8. Will I receive a confirmation email?

9. How close are the Sheraton Birmingham and the Westin Birmingham (host hotels) to the race activities?

10. How far are the host hotels from the Birmingham International Airport?

11. What is the Expo?

12. Where is the Expo and what are the hours?

13. Do you take credit cards for registration at the Expo?

14. How do I get my team's race packet?

15. Can I pick my team's race packet up on race morning, Sunday the 11th?

16. Can someone else besides our team captain pick up our team packet for us?

17. What is in my team race packet?

18. What happens if we lose our timing device during the race?

19. Where can we park for the races?

20. Where does the race start and finish?

21. Can I register on race day?

22. Can I switch from the Marathon Relay to the Marathon or Half Marathon?

23. Can a team member also be an official Half or Full Marathon participant?

24. What time does the marathon relay start?

25. Do the races have corrals?

26. Where are the Relay Exchange Areas and how does it work?

27. How do all the team members get their finisher's medal and cap?

28. What sports drinks and gels will be available on the course?

29. Is there a Pasta Dinner?

30. What is NOT allowed on the course?

31. Is there a "Bag Check" available?

32. What if I lose something at the race?

33. Why haven't I received a confirmation email?

34. What does my registration fee go to?

35. What will the weather be like on race day? What if it is raining or snowing?

36. Is there a time limit? Why?

37. What is "The Split" and what is it all about?

38. How do our team members get to their relay leg start and then back to the Post Race Party?

39. Where will the water stations, medical aid stations and portalets be located on the course?

40. Is chip time or gun time used to determine awards?

41. Will there be an awards ceremony?

42. What are the best places to watch the race?

43. How do we get a refund if we cannot attend?



1. What do we get for our entry fee?
First of all, you get to come to Birmingham, Alabama!!!! Each team will receive one "team bag" that will have all the race weekend swag for each team member. There is one bag per team so only one team member will pick up the race packet. That person will then distribute the bibs, timing device and weekend race shirts to each team member. The race weekend shirts are a short sleeved dry fit men's sized shirt. There will also be other goodies in the bag! When you finish the race, the last finisher (the one who runs the last leg of the relay and actually crosses the finish line) will pick up the team's finisher bag at the finish line tent marked "Relay Teams". In the finisher bag will be a finisher's amenity TBD and medal for each team member. Only the last finisher will pick up this bag. We will have fruit and water and PowerAde waiting for you at the finish line. Just a few short steps away from the finish line is our Post Race Party with all the Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q and beer you desire. We may even have some post race massages going on!
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2. Are there participant limits?
Yes! We will close the relay at 250 teams so make sure you register your team EARLY. We have sold out in the past.
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3. How do I register for the races?
Go to www.mercedesmarathon.com and click on the Runsignup.com link or the "Registration" link. Only one person (the team captain) will register and pay for your team on Runsignup.com. Online registration will close February 5, 2018 unless we sell out of the relay early. After that, we will offer registration at the Expo on Friday and Saturday. THERE IS NO RACE DAY REGISTRATION!!!! When registering online at Runsignup.com it is not important to list the runners in correct relay leg order. For timing purposes we do not capture each team member's name or place on the team. You do not need to notify our office of any changes to your team unless it involves the team captain contact information, change in team category, or change in team member shirt size.
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4. How much does the race cost?
Adult relay entry fee through December 31, 2017 - $240

January 1- February 5,  2018 - $265

High School and Middle School Team entry fee through December 31, 2016 - $190

January 1–February 5, 2018 - $215


If you register at the Race Weekend Expo, all relay team registration fees are $265
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5. What are the different categories for the relay?

  • Men's Team
  • Women's Team
  • Middle School/High School Team (must include at least 2 females)*
  • Mixed Open (must include at least 2 females)
  • Masters (must include at least 2 females)

*There will be one award given in this category.  We do not distinguish between middle school and high school.

Awards will be given to the winning team in each category. Regarding the categories needing 2 females, if you have only one female your team will fall into the men's category.


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6. How many members are on the marathon relay team and what are the distances?
Each team will consist of five runners. The relay is held on the same course as the individual marathon and run at the same time. Each Relay team is assigned a single timing chip that is attached to a timing belt that will be passed from each runner. The belt must be passed off to the next runner of the relay after crossing over the timing pad at the relay exchange. The distances for each leg are approximately (1) 6.05 miles, (2) 2.95 miles, (3) 6.05 miles, (4) 3.05 miles, (5) 8.10 miles. Distances are subject to slight changes due to course limitations with our relay exchange sites.
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7. How do I know for sure if our team registered?
Go to our website at www.mercedesmarathon.com and click on Check Entry.
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8. Will I receive a confirmation email?
Yes. Our online registration host, runsignup.com, will email you a confirmation after you register. If you don't see it in your inbox, please check your spam or better yet add info@mercedesmarathon.com to your email address book before you register.
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9. How close are the Sheraton Birmingham and the Westin Birmingham (host hotels) to the race activities?
They are located a block from the Expo, Start/Finish line and the Post Race Party. Click on our travel page for additional information.
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10. How far are the host hotels from the Birmingham International Airport?
It is less than 5 miles away – a short 10 minute or so drive.
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11. What is the Expo?
The St. Vincent's Health System Health and Fitness Expo and Packet Pickup is held on Friday and Saturday, February 9-10 in the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) East Ballroom. This is where you will come to pick up your team's race packet, peruse the vendors, enjoy a local craft beer in the Good People Brewing Company Beer Garden, purchase Mercedes Marathon merchandise and in general have a good time while hanging out with other runners. Bring your whole team and have fun! You must pick up your race packet at the Expo. Your race packet contains your team's race bibs and the team timing device which you must have to run!!
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12. Where is the Expo and what are the hours?
The Expo will be held in the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) East Ballroom. This is located on the street level next to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. The hours are Friday, February 9th from 12:00 Noon - 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, February 10th from 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
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13. Do you take credit cards for registration at the Expo?
Yes. We take Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. We will also accept checks and cash.
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14. How do I get my team's race packet?
Race packets will not be mailed. One team member must come to the Expo in order to get the team's race packet and you must bring your team's confirmation email. The race packet will have your team race numbers and timing device which you need on Sunday morning to be able to run.
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15. Can I pick my team's race packet up on race morning, Sunday the 11th?
NO!! THERE WILL BE NO RACE DAY PACKET PICK UP! Please make sure you pick up your team's packet at the Expo on Friday or Saturday. There is also NO RACE DAY REGISTRATION!
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16. Can someone else besides our team captain pick up our team packet for us?
Yes – we don't have a problem with that, but make sure all team members know who is picking it up so there's no confusion and they must bring your team's confirmation email. Occasionally, we will have a team member come to pick up their team packet and the volunteers can't find it. Then the volunteers think their packet didn't get put together and they assign them a new team number. In reality, another team member had already picked it up. So much confusion! Please know who is picking up your team packet.
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17. What is in my team race packet?
Your team members race bib, team timing device, and final instructions along with other goodies from vendors and businesses will be in your race bag. You MUST have your race bibs and timing device in order to run the race.
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18. What happens if we lose our timing device during the race?
All relay teams will be issued one timing device per team that will be distributed during packet pickup. Each team member will exchange the timing device at each relay stop. You will need to contact the timer and give them your approximate finishing time and they will be able to cross reference their manual timing.
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19. Where can we park for the races?
Try this website – www.bhamparking.com – for a map of all parking decks available in downtown Birmingham. There is some street parking around the facilities just make sure that you don't park on the course on Sunday.
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20. Where does the race start and finish?
The race starts and finishes right in front of Boutwell Auditorium located at 1930 Reverend Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd., Birmingham, AL 35203.
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21. Can I register on race day?
No! There is no race day registration!
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22. Can I switch from the Marathon Relay to the Marathon or Half Marathon?
An individual team member may drop off your team and switch, but they will need to pay the marathon or half marathon race registration fee. 
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23. Can a team member also be an official Half or Full Marathon participant?
Yes, but they have to be the FIRST LEG of the relay team in order to be a half or full marathon participant. That runner must complete, including payment, an individual entry form for the full or half marathon. This person will wear the relay team number and the relay team timing belt as well as their own individual number and chip. Your relay timing chip will be attached to the belt and your individual timing chip will be attached to your individual race bib.
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24. What time does the marathon relay start?
The marathon relay starts at 7:03 a.m. on Sunday, February 11th – the same time the marathon and half marathon starts.
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25. Do the races have corrals?
Corrals will be posted in the starting chute. We ask you to be considerate of others and line up according to your pace.
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26. Where are the Relay Exchange Areas and how does it work? (Subject to change in 2018 due to course modifications with the interstate construction. Stay tuned)
The Relay Exchange Areas are as follows:

  • Relay Exchange # 1 - Backside of Glen Iris Elementary School - 14th Avenue S. and 11th Place South - from the start to Relay Exchange #1 is a 6.05 miles - from Relay Exchange #1 to Relay Exchange #2 is a 2.95 miles.
  • Relay Exchange # 2 - Highland Ave by golf course just before Clairmont Avenue- from Relay Exchange #2 to Relay Exchange #3 is 6.05 miles.
  • Relay Exchange #3 - Kelly Ingram Park across from the Civil Rights Institute - 4th Avenue North and 16th Street N- from Relay Exchange #3 to Relay Exchange #4 is a 3.05 miles.
  • Relay Exchange # 4 - Epic School parking lot - 1000 10th Ave S - from Relay Exchange #4 to the Finish Line is 8.1 miles.

Each marathon relay team will be given one timing belt which will have the "team" timing chip attached. This belt is to be worn by the next runner once the runner has crossed over the timing pad at each relay exchange. The last runner will take off the timing belt at the finish line and leave it with finish line officials.

Relay runners will need to be alert for their upcoming exchange zone. This area will be designated by signs and will be to the side of the marathon course after crossing over the timing mat allowing for room to pass off the belt. Please be considerate of other runners during the transition.


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27. How do all the team members get their finisher's medal and finish line amenity?
When you finish race, the last finisher (the one who runs the last leg of the relay and actually crosses the finish line) will pick up the team's finisher bag at the finish line tent marked "Relay Teams". In the finisher bag will be a finish line amenity TBD and medal for each team member. Only the last finisher will pick up this bag then distribute to all the team members.
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28. What sports drinks and gels will be available on the course?
We will be serving lemon-lime PowerAde at every water stop on the course. GU will be the gel of choice and will be available at miles 4,8,11,17,21,24.
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29. Is there a Pasta Dinner?
No, we do not have an organized pasta dinner due to the low interest in past years. For dining options, please click here to visit the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau website.
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30. What is NOT allowed on the course?
Baby joggers, in-line skates, bicycles, unauthorized vehicles and unregistered runners are prohibited on the course. No pets or smoking on the course PLEASE! Any participant breaking one of these rules will be removed from the course, disqualified and will not receive finisher's amenities. These rules are due to our insurance policy and board of directors and are for your safety and the safety of the thousands of other runners on the course.
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31. Is there a "Bag Check" available?
We do not have bag checks at the relay exchange stations. The official event Bag Check is in the designated BAG CHECK area located on the side of Boutwell Auditorium between the Auditorium and Birmingham Museum of Art. You will see volunteers there ready to help you. A bag check claim tag is located on your race bib or tags will be available to attach to your bag at the bag check area. All items must be contained in a CLEAR PLASTIC BAG. We will provide those if you don't have one. Bag Check will close promptly at 2 p.m. All items not picked up will be left with Boutwell Auditorium's Lost and Found.

If you want to make something available for yourself to put on after your relay leg, then you will need to work that out with your team member running the leg after you. They will need to bring your items to the exchange. THERE ARE NO BAG CHECKS AT THE RELAY EXCHANGES. ONLY AT BOUTWELL AUDITORIUM! Back to top

 

32. What if I lose something at the race?
Lost and Found will be at the Boutwell Auditorium. You can check after the race or you can call Boutwell Auditorium at 205-254-2820. Items that are discarded along the race route will NOT be returned to the Lost and Found. They will be donated to local charities.
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33. Why haven't I received a confirmation email?
Probably your spam filter has blocked our emails. Please add info@mercedesmarathon.com to your email address book.
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34. What does my registration fee go to?
Registration fees help cover the cost of the event expenses. Race proceeds go to the Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs and other local children's charities.
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35. What will the weather be like on race day? What if it is raining or snowing?
Normal High: 58
Normal Low: 35
Normal Average: 47

The race will take place if it is raining. The race will only be cancelled/postponed if weather conditions pose imminent danger to our participants. In 16 years this has never happened! Check out www.myfoxal.com for race weekend weather info.
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36. Is there a time limit? Why?
The Marathon Relay is open to runners and walkers of all abilities. However, a six-hour time limit has been set. This means a participant or team must maintain consistent pace of at least 13:44 per mile. Relay teams need to keep this in mind and may need to alternate slower runners with faster runners to keep within the time limits. Relay Team Member #3 must stay in front the balloon lady when the course splits at 20th St., N. and 5th Ave., N. or he/she will be sent to the finish line and will be disqualified. Team members still at relay exchange zones 4 & 5 will not be able to run.
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37. What is "The Split" and what is it all about?
It is very important that your relay team member #3 understands how the course has a "split" so the full marathon and relay marathon participants can continue on the double loop course. The "split" is at the intersection of 20th St., N. and 5th Ave., N. It will be well marked with turn directions and the team member should already be in the right hand lane of the street to make this turn. Beginning at approximately mile 11 at 32nd St, S. and 2nd Ave., S. the street lanes will be coned off separating the half marathon runners from the full and relay marathon runners. Your relay member along with the full marathon runners should be in the right lane for approximately 2 more miles where they will turn at the "split" and begin to run down 5th Ave., N. This turn at 5th Ave., N. will begin your double loop of the course. Please learn and know the course by checking out our course map on the home page.
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38. How do our team members get to their relay leg start and then back to the Post Race Party?

  • The first runner will need to arrive at the start line in plenty of time to park the car, warm-up, check in gear, etc.
  • All other relay runners will need to be at their designated relay exchange areas in plenty of time. Although transportation is provided to each exchange point, it is the responsibility of each runner to be on time and ready to run the next leg of the relay.
  • While some runners will want to provide their own transportation to their exchange areas, many others will need transportation. For those relay runners, transportation will be provided to their respective relay exchange area via yellow school buses. The buses will be located on 19th Street N between park Place and 8th Ave N near City Hall and the Greyhound Bus Station. Each bus will be marked #1, #2, #3, #4 to designate which bus to ride on to get to your exchange area. Please remember that many roads along the course will be closed, so you are encouraged to use the transportation provided.
  • Runner #2 going to Relay Exchange #1 at Glen Iris Elementary- leaves at 6:15 a.m.
  • Runner #3 going to Relay Exchange #2 at Highland Golf Course - leaves at 6:20 a.m.
  • Runner #4 going to Relay Exchange #3 at Civil Rights Institute - leaves at 6:25 a.m. (but really, you can walk to this one after the race starts - it's 5-6 blocks away from the start)
  • Runner #5 going to Relay Exchange #4 at Epic School - leaves at 6:30 a.m.
  • If you are providing your own transportation to your relay exchange area, remember that the marathon course will be closed off to traffic starting at 7:00 a.m. You will not be able to drive on the actual course once runners start arriving in that area. Please use common sense and DO NOT PARK DIRECTLY ON THE COURSE! Please plan ahead.
  • When runners have completed their leg of the race, there will be transportation available back to the finish line area. Please be patient as you may have to wait a few minutes for the transportation. Look for the bus or signs directing you to your bus at the exchange area for your ride back. (Due to traffic issues, Runner #1 will need to walk a couple of blocks to the exchange area at Epic School to catch the bus back to the finish line).

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39. Where will the water stations, medical aid stations and portalets be located on the course?
Please check our website at www.mercedesmarathon.com. These will all be listed on the course map.
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40. Is chip time or gun time used to determine awards?
Gun time is used for the determination of relay awards. If your team is running to win, runner #1 should cross the start line as soon as possible. See question #18 for additional timing device information.
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41. Will there be an awards ceremony?
Yes. The awards ceremony for the full marathon and 5 person marathon relay will take place between 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. at the Post Race Party. You must pick up your award at the awards ceremony. We do not mail out awards after the race. Please make travel plans accordingly. Remember that a relay team can run with just 4 members but only those teams with 5 relay team members will be eligible for awards.
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42. What are the best places to watch the race?
The course is VERY spectator friendly as it is a double loop course for the full marathon. Some of the best places that we have found for watching are:

  • Civil Rights Institute: 520 16th Street North, 35203
  • McWane Center: 200 19th Street North, 35203
  • Regions Field: 1401 1st Ave., South 35233
  • Railroad Park: 1600 1st Ave., South 35233
  • University of Alabama, Birmingham, Bartow Arena: 617 13th Street South
  • Western Supermarket: 2230 Highland Avenue, 35205
  • South Highland Presbyterian Church, Highland Avenue
  • Caldwell Park: Highland Avenue and Niazuma
  • Rushton Park
  • Avondale Park
  • Marconi Park
  • 5 Points South district at Jim 'N Nick's BBQ restaurant
  • Final stretch on the sidewalks of 20th St., North


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43. How do we get a refund if we cannot attend?
Due to the upfront nature of event costs, we have a uniform policy of no refunds, transfers or deferrals to a future year. We know that plans change and unexpected things come up, but we feel it is most fair to apply a uniform policy to all, instead of an arbitrary line of who merits a refund and who doesn't. During your registration process, you must agree to this policy in order to participate in our event.  Thank you for understanding.
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