Articles Comments

Facebook Link Twitter Link
Pace Calculator

Digital Running Club » Articles » The Importance of Road Kill

The Importance of Road Kill

Photo courtesy of the Running Laminator

If you’ve ever run – or even witnessed – an overnight cross country running relay (such as a Ragnar Relay), you’re probably familiar with the concept of the “road kill”. A road kill, used in the context of such a relay, refers to the passing of another team’s runner by the runner currently on the course. Many teams fastidiously record their road kills with stick figures, check marks, or magnets on the sides of their van.

Although there are various ways of counting road kills, there really aren’t any awards for having the most road kills in a relay. It’s all about pride, baby! Generally, it works on an honor system where the runners on the course simply keep track of the number of runners they pass during their legs of the relay. In most cases, it’s that simple. A fairer form of counting is for the runners to subtract from the total when they get passed by another runner. That way, the team should have an accurate count of just how many teams they have passed along the route. Of course, teams typically start in different waves with the slowest teams starting earliest, so the count is fairly meaningless in terms of the actual race anyway. It’s just fun!

Perhaps the real importance in counting road kills lies in the intrateam rivalries. If team members of van #1 chalk up 17 road kills in their first set of legs, they’ve set the bar for van #2! If van #2 can’t clear that total, then much smack-talk will ensue at the next major exchange point. Van #2 might even have to make up the difference in beers purchased for members of van #1 at the post race party.

There are those who think that road kills are unsportsmanlike, but those people are probably taking the relay a little too seriously. Many runners will chalk up their road kills with much ceremony back at the van, but more often than not, they also offer kind words of encouragement to those they pass on the course. Road kills are really just a party game in the moving celebration that is an overnight cross country running relay!

Team "Lips, Hips & Asphalt"

Seen at the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay 2010

Written by

Brian Darrow is a running coach in St. Petersburg, FL who specializes in online coaching for beginners. Follow him at

Filed under: Articles · Tags:

2 Responses to "The Importance of Road Kill"

  1. Matt says:

    Cool, never heard the term used this way–I’m just use to “road kill” meaning stinky piles of animal flesh that you try not to step on or look at. In X-Country, though, we use to get “skulls” for passing other runners.

  2. pillk says:

    I personally find the term unsportsmanlike. Your “roadkill” is another runner with a story. Maybe they have battled a disease, maybe they fought obesity, maybe they are nursing an injury, maybe they are going through a divorce or recently lost a loved one, etc. I may be over analyzing it, but every time I see a team counting road kills, I think it is very tacky, especially considering most relays are staggered starts based on a teams predicted pace. I would rather see my runners supporting the team and others by celebrating accomplishments along the way; if they ran faster then they normally do, felt strong on the hills, etc. Just my 2 cents :)

Leave a Reply


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>