10 Reasons Why Running a Relay Race is Like Running a Startup 

This weekend was Ragnar Northwest Passage, a 196-mile relay race here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. It’s painful, it’s exhausting, and it’s great fun. Kind of like founding a startup. Here are 10 similarities:

1. You don’t get much sleep

sleeping under the steps

Team member Todd catches an hour of quality shut-eye in the dirt with the rats after running the second of three legs.


2. It’s a small team. Each person is critical. And they smell bad.

honey buckets in a row

It ain’t all honey


3. You push hard to reach the goal, and then someone faster overtakes you

Runner getting passed.

Getting passed in the last hundred yards sucks. Unless you catch them back. He did.


4. You meet a lot of great people along the way

The CRAWLERS at the finish line

Team CRAWLERS. Our finish time was 29:16:55.


5. Vanity Metrics

Road kill tally chalked on van window.

Our BI system for tracking how many runners we passed.


6. It’s not a straight route to the end of the race

indirect route on a map

At least with a relay race, you have a map.


7. You’re a volunteer

Mike wearing a volunteer shirt

Unpaid labor. The backbone of startups and relay races.


8. Print marketing is hard.

Car door: "We Suck"

There’s a reason PR and marketing firms charge big bucks.


9. You can’t do it without an understanding spouse at home

Mom getting tackled by 3 year old

She has a harder job than I do, whether I’m building patient engagement software, or running grueling races.


10. You take a beating, and keep coming back for more

Ragnar finishing medals

Perseverance produces results. In this case, bottle opener medals.

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Leave a Comment (2) ↓


  1. Todd July 21, 2014

    Nice work. And I agree, fully.

  2. Liz Johnston July 29, 2014


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