frostbite marathon relay team

Frostbite Marathon Relay: The Fight Club of Running

The Frostbite Marathon Relay is one of those rare, magical unicorns of running. It’s fun, unique, and weirdly underground. I almost wish it were more secretive, like a running fight club. The first rule of the Frostbite Marathon Relay is that we don’t talk about running the Frostbite Marathon Relay.

the frostbite marathon relayBut honestly, this was the second year I’ve run this race and I loved every minute of it. There are lots of reasons why FMR is awesome, and why I’ll definitely keep doing the race as long as my team lets me!

The best things about the Frostbite Marathon Relay are what it doesn’t have:

A Typical location

frostbite marathon relay teamHolland? What’s in Holland other than more Dutch people than the Netherlands? Lots of stuff! But I never go there because it’s Holland. I forget there are things there. The fact that this race is run from a pub I’ve otherwise never been to and along streets I’ve otherwise never traveled is a huge bonus. Who is tired or running the same routes around downtown Grand Rapids? Raise your hands. Yeah, that’s what I thought.


I didn’t get a single email about the Frostbite Marathon Relay. I didn’t get any Facebook page notifications. At some point, a veteran of the race added me to a Facebook group where we could ask questions, but that’s about it. As a marketing strategist, I find this completely insane. As a runner, I love it! Honestly, it makes me pay closer attention and keep track of information myself. It’s not like River Bank where I know I’ll get about 300 emails between now and May, so I can ignore virtually all of them until the very last minute. With FMR, you can’t wait until Saturday night and then look up on their website when the race starts and what the route is. As far as I know, this magical unicorn doesn’t have a website. Woo!

A million people

frostbite marathon relay handoffOkay, so I’ve never actually done a race with one million people, but there’s a time and a place for gigantic races—the end of January in Holland isn’t one of them. I think the event is capped at like 450 people (unicorns don’t divulge their secrets), which is still a lot of people, but it feels like an intimate race. If you’re in other running groups and see people post pictures of the race (because you know there’s no photographer and no Facebook page sharing general race photos), you’ll recognize the people. Especially if the run in gorilla costumes or dressed as a sperm and an egg. Yeah.


There’s no bag full of flyers or race expo or turdy cotton t-shirt or pee-flavored Gatorade. Frostbite Marathon Relay is just a bunch of people, having fun, dressing up and rooting for each other as we all complete the ridiculous feat of running 4–6 miles (or more, like the pajama ladies who ran the whole thing) from downtown Holland to through the wilderness and back in sun or rain or snow squalls. Or all three.


There’s a shortage of chairs. The Curragh is basically the Studio 54 of running.

frostbite marathon relay costumeThe coolest things about the Frostbite Marathon Relay, other than the camaraderie and silliness of it all, are the badass thermal pullovers participants get, the chili and beer afterward, the course, the price ($50/person is better than a lot of lame races I’ve done), and the date. It’s the end of January and you’re literally not doing anything else, so why not find one of the magical unicorns who knows about the race and knows how to register (I still don’t know how Carilyn got us registered. I bet she knows the secret password and handshake.), find four to seven friends, and sign your butts up? Or better yet, don’t. Like I said, there’s already a shortage of chairs.