How to Play: Relay Races

• Age seven and up
• Six or more players needed
• Materials needed: Some props for some races
• Outdoor activity
• Competitive

How to Play

• Divide the kids into teams by numbering off. (With two teams, count off by twos; with three teams, count off by threes, and so on. If a team is short a player, have one of the players (maybe the birthday child) run twice.)
• Establish exact start and finish lines and have the teams line up behind the start lines.
• Say, "Ready, Set, Go!" The first member of each team runs from start line to finish line and back, doing whatever is required. He or she taps the next player, who then does the same thing. The first team to have all its players back wins.

Note: Relay races work best when everyone clearly follows the rules:

• Only one team may win, and they should win fairly.
• No pushing ahead of the start line, no skipping requirements.
• The adult in charge should try to make sure that the teams are fairly divided to create an even race.
• Perhaps instead of racing only once, whichever team wins two out of three races or three out of five races is the winner.
Give winning team members, prizes of some sort (mini trophies, blue ribbons, medallion stickers, etc.).

Sound like fun? Try these 10 variations!


  1. Bell Race: Use a cowbell or any other noisemaker for each team, placed on the finish line. Run to the finish line, ring the bell, put it down, and run back.
  2. Crawling Race: (no props needed) Crawl on all fours to the finish line and back (reduce the distance if this is hard on the knees!)
  3. Draw a Face Race: Put a crayon and a pad of paper on the finish line for each team. Each child runs to the finish line, draws his or her face on the pad, signs his or her name, turns the page, puts the pad and crayon back down on the finish line, runs back. The final results could be a great memento for the birthday child … be sure to put the date on the pad. You could also give each child his or her picture!
  4. Running Backwards Race: Run backwards to the finish line and back. No cheating!
  5. Somersault Race: Somersault in as straight a line as possible to the finish line and run back (you may want to place down gym mats or towels for this one).
  6. Suitcase Race: Fill a suitcase or shopping bag with funny clothes for each team. Run with the suitcase to the finish line, open it, put on the clothes, bow (teammates must bow back), take off the clothes, put them back, close the suitcase, and run back with it.
  7. Three-Legged Race: Each member of the team finds a partner. Tie the inside legs of each pair with heavy string or cloth ties. Each three-legged pair runs, walks or hobbles to the finish line and back. If you fall, get up and keep going. Work together!
  8. Wheelbarrow Race: One child holds the feet of another, who walks on his or her hands to the finish line and back. Option: reverse positions on the return trip.
  9. Egg on a Spoon Race: Place an egg on a spoon (you may want to hard boil them, especially for the little kids). Walk with the egg on the spoon to the finish line and back. If the egg falls off you can either return to the beginning and try again or just pick up the egg and continue (decide this rule before beginning).
  10. Potato Sack Race: The first person begins in the potato sack and jumps to the finish line and back. Then he or she takes off the sack and hands it to the next person in line.
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