Smoky Mountain Relay Rules and Safety

General Rules

  • No vehicles over 20 feet in length. We have some VERY small windy roads and anything bigger than the typical 15 person transport van can’t manage.
  • NO DOGS ALLOWED. Due to biting and other incidence no dogs are allowed at the Exchanges or on the Course at any time. A report of running with or dogs hanging out at the Exchanges is a DQ for the team.
  • To compete for the top awards, your team must complete all 36 legs in standard procedure. (Teams that have their Van #2  leave Exchange #30 prior to the arrival of Van #1, “Leap Frogging”, will receive an official time, but they will not be eligible for time awards.) If Van #1 has not arrived at Exchange #30 by 11:45am, Van #2 MUST LEAVE and Leap Frog.
  • Participants must be at least 15 years of age. We request that any child under the age of 18 have a parent in the van with them.
  • In the case of an injury, a team competing for a top award must continue the rotation of runners as planned. You may not swap a runner from one van to the other. Bottom line: you don’t get to put your ringer in to run all of the remaining legs. For those teams who are just looking to conquer this challenge and have a good time, you can be a little more liberal in how you divvy up the remaining legs, but please do not swap runners from one van to another.
  • Show up at packet pick up or the start with all safety equipment: reflective vests (2), flasher for front and back (2), headlamp (2).
  • Nighttime Safety equipment is to be worn between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am. Teams starting before 7 am should wear safety gear. As well as starting at Exchange #12.
  • The runners must wear a bib while running.
  • No sleeping on the side of the road; we would prefer runners sleeping in a designated sleep area. Information about sleeping areas will be posted online and printed in the runner’s guides.  Van #2 we ask that you not sleep immediately at exchange 24.  If you can stay alert  on the road, go to either Cowee School or Tellico Christian camp to sleep.
  • Runners must run facing traffic or as otherwise posted in the runner’s guide.
  • Do your best to give us an accurate average pace for your team. We set volunteer shifts based on the predicted paces we are given, and if your prediction is accurate, there will be volunteers at the exchanges. We do recognize, though, that last minute speedy additions to your team can result in teams running much faster than predicted. We do not hold teams who are running ahead of the volunteers; however, if you are not comfortable with running through exchanges that are not yet open, we ask that you hold yourselves until the exchange will open. These opening times will be listed in your race bible.
  • We do allow teams to leapfrog if they are running more slowly than expected. The official leapfrog procedure will be listed in the race bible. The basic way it works is that Van #2 will leave XC #30 before Van #1 arrives. By recording the departure time for Van #2 and the eventual arrival time for Van #1 at XC #30, we will be able to make adjustments to the total running time in order to have accurate finish results. Because we do make these final adjustments to results, our results are not typically final until Sunday afternoon following the race. In 2016, we had approximately 20 teams who chose to leapfrog, so we do feel this is an important step in being able to truly recognize how teams finished.
  • Fill in the timing sheets after each runner completes their leg.
  • We encourage runners to support all runners on the course, provide encouragement, ring a cowbell, tell them they look strong. However, when you park to support your runner, you must have all four wheels outside of the white line. Be sure that you are pulling off in a safe and visible spot, and turn your flashers on.
  • It is mandatory that you support your own runners with food/water and encouragement (lie if you have to but make them feel better about their effort). You are the first line of defense for your runner if he or she has any problems out on the course.
  • We ask that you cooperate with and show appreciation to all volunteers on the course. These folks make a huge contribution, and your support and appreciation goes a long way in helping them have a positive experience.

Safety Rules


  • Your safety is of utmost concern to us. We ask that you follow all of our race rules as they have been put in place to help keep you as safe on the road as possible. Please note that the Smoky Mountain Relay is an open course, which means you will encounter traffic. While it is easy to get caught up in the spirit of the relay, never forget that you are on open roads. 
  • In case of emergency, find cell service and call 911, and inform a member of the race staff as soon as possible. We have noted cell service on individual leg maps as accurately as possible. We do have medical staff assisting runners on the course. These EMTs are limited in the level of care that they can provide. If someone is facing a life threatening situation, please call 911. Helicopters are available in the area; if it is necessary to seek that type of transport, have members of your team find an appropriate landing zone. We are planning on having EMT trained staff at the following Exchanges 3, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21,22, 23,25, 27, 28, 30, 32,33,34 and support at the finish line. 
  • Giving aid along the course. Do not cross a busy street or intersection to assist a runner with water. Vans should pull completely off the road in a safe area to provide support; do not obstruct traffic . Most of this course is on quiet country roads, but we do have a couple of spots that require extreme caution. Please note: Hwy 107 in Cullowhee is a dangerous road with a very narrow shoulder for ¼ of a mile. Use extreme caution when on this busy highway.
  • Running at night. You may maintain visual contact with your van within reason along the course. When your van is shadowing a runner, emergency flashers should be on. You may also pace your runner on bike or foot if your runner is uncomfortable running alone, but all pacers (on bike or foot) should be wearing a safety vest, red blinking lights and reflectors.
  • Shadowing by the van is allowed during dark hours except for Wayah Rd. 
  • Wear your bib number on your front when you are the active runner. Bib numbers are used to call out incoming runners at exchanges, and they identify participants as being a part of the race. It is important that you wear your number while out on the course. If you want to run shirtless, you can attach your bib number to your shorts. 
  • Reflective gear. All runners should wear reflective gear between 7 pm and 7 am. Reflective gear includes a reflective vest, a red blinking light on your backside, and some sort of illumination for your route – a headlamp, waist lamp or flashlight. If visibility is low because of fog or other conditions, please continue to wear reflective gear until visibility improves. We also request that teammates getting out of the van after dark have some kind of reflective gear on so that other vans and traffic can see them.
  • Use of headphones. We allow participants to listen to iPods and other music devices. However, we ask that you keep the volume down and one out so that you may hear volunteer instructions. When running on busy roads, we ask that you are able to hear cars coming up on you. One ear out!
  • Take care of yourself.  This is a self supported event. Please make sure that you are staying hydrated during the race. The most common problem runners have experienced during this event has been dehydration. This means not only drinking while you are running but also taking care that you are eating and drinking throughout the day and night. Support your runners multiple times throughout their leg if the course allows, and if you see a runner from another team having any issues, please offer your help. We are all on this adventure together. 
  • In case of lightning, get your runner off the road and into the support vehicle. Stay in the vehicle for thirty minutes past the lightning strike. Note the pause in your running on your official time sheet.
  • Run against traffic and on sidewalks or trails when available. Runners are to run on the left shoulder of all roads (against traffic), using sidewalks or trails when available, unless signs or maps direct otherwise.  Runners are to understand that they do not have exclusive use of the roadway and are required to obey all traffic laws. This includes stopping at traffic lights.
  • The course will be marked with bright pink utility flags, and yellow signs. Do not follow any other course markings.  Carry your cell phone if you are able to on those legs that suggest it. If you get lost during your leg, don’t panic. Stop and retrace your steps to the last point you know you were on course. It is better to do this than to keep moving forward and ending up being hopelessly lost. We have marked the course with flags and signs at critical turns; go back and look for them carefully and you should be able to get back on course.
  • Allergies. If you are allergic to bees, we ask that you carry your epi-pen with you.
Minivan with runners at Smoky Mountain Relay