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The Course

Relay Iowa is a relay run all the way across the state of Iowa.   The actual route may vary slightly each year due to detours, construction, etc. Final details of the course and exact directional instructions will be released just prior to the event in the updated Team Survival Guide. We also place signs all the way across the state to help you find your way. Due to potential vandalism, do not rely solely on signs to make decisions. Consult the Survival Guide maps when in doubt. Click here to view the map online. You can zoom in on each to find additional route details. Have fun planning your journey!

The Official 2024 Relay Iowa Course


Check-in starts at our Thursday night social at Buffalo Alice in Sioux City the night before the relay.  Here you can not only check-in and pick up your team bag, but you can meet all the other teams crazy enough to tackle the world's longest relay.


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. If your team isn't able to make it to Buffalo Alice on Thursday, you will be able to check-in and receive your team bag at the start line on Friday.


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.


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, Pit Stops, and Attractions

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 at a specific time, 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.

You will also find various attractions along the route, such as a local creamery in Hudson, and the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville. These are not checkpoints or pit stops but they are certainly worth a visit. 

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, beverages 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 the Team Survival Guide.

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.

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. It will be passed from runner to runner like a “baton.” The runner currently on the course should always wear the GPS. Friends and family can track your progress by viewing your GPS location here.

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 western 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!

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