Putting its longevity in runners’ terms, the year-old River City Relay is a sprint. But local experts say in terms of its efficiency, it seems more like a marathon.
“For the first year, they did a great job,” said Stacey McConnell, a certified physical therapist for St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
The second River Cities Relay will take place at 6 p.m. on Aug. 26. St. Elizabeth Healthcare is the presenting sponsor.
But don’t think McConnell uses his running shoes just to toe the company line; an experienced marathoner, he knows when races are well-run.
“In the first year of an event there are usually bugs everywhere, whether it’s not enough water, or runners not knowing where they’re going,” he explained. “But they really nailed it. This is going to be one the highlights of the running calendar in Northern Kentucky.”
As the name implies, the event is a true relay; runners must participate in teams of two to four people, tackling legs of varying difficulty and distances between three and five miles:
Leg 1: Beginning under the Purple People Bridge in Newport and continuing along Fairfield Avenue in Bellevue, Manhattan Harbor in Dayton and Bellevue Beach Park = 3.5 miles.
Leg 2: Returning to Newport past Newport on the Levee, across the Licking River into Covington and over the Roebling Suspension Bridge into Ohio before returning to Covington Landing. 4 miles.
Leg 3: Through Covington and up the hill into Devou Park, past the Behringer Crawford Museum and Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky = 3.2 miles.
Leg 4: Downhill back out of Devou Park, back to Newport and General James Taylor Park, where relay teams will reunite = 4.2 miles.
Relay teams will cover the last half-mile together to the finish line at Newport’s Festival Park, where there will be food, beverages and live music.
Each team will use its own vehicle to transport runners to the next relay point before all take part in the final half-mile stretch.
There can be some strategy involved in determining which runner takes on which leg, McConnell said. The third leg, for example, involves a steady increase in elevation of about 300 feet.
“It all depends what your goals are, whether you’re just looking to have fun or if you’re trying to kill it,” McConnell said. “For the climb into Devou Park, you want a physically strong runner. Coming back down, a runner with good quads, someone who likes to go downhill. The first two legs are about the same. You can find a place for everybody.”
At the end of the day, this is a race not only for the legs, but for the eyes.
“The scenery is just spectacular,” McConnell said.
The River City Relay benefits charities including Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky; Redwood; and Parish Kitchen, a ministry of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Covington.
Registration fees through Aug. 18 are $170 for a four-person team and $110 for two-person; $185 and $125 thereafter through race day. To register, visit rivercitiesrelay.com.