Will the fourth RVA Relays be the best one yet? Our bet is that it will be! It will feature the largest group of teams we've yet to have and many more star athletes running some fast splits.
Before we preview this year's race though, here is some background info.
For those unfamiliar with the format, the RVA Relays are relay races run under the lights at Pole Green Park. There are five runners on each team and 2500m per leg. Our fastest splits are 7:00 for Brent Bailey on the guys' side and 7:47 for Rachel McArthur on the girls'.
The past champions are (in order) Midlothian, Deep Run, Deep Run for the guys and Maggie Walker, Patriot, Maggie Walker for the girls. The guys have averaged a 17.33 second margin between first and second while the girls have averaged 15.66.
To put that in simpler terms, that average is like having a 5K race decided by under seven seconds on average. What all of this means is that even though these races are very long, they are more exciting than basically any other 5K of the season.
This year looks to continue the trend with both the boys and girls side having close races and fast splits.
The first race under the lights will be the Boys "A" race which will be run roughly 30 minutes after the sun sets. In this race we will get to see 40 teams take to the course in an attempt to break the 37:08 course record.
Our pre-race favorites are Ocean Lakes who return three of their five from last year. They are led by Tyler Lipps who went 7:30 last year and helped his team finish a close second. This will be their first major meet of the year so expect fresh legs and a lot of speed from these Dolphins.
Our best bet is that by the fourth/fifth leg it will be a three way race between Branch, Deep Run, and Ocean Lakes. The answer for who will win though will come down to race strategy and relay order. It is not easy being chased so don't be surprised if there is a come from behind win this weekend.
MileStat's Pre-Race Top 5
- Ocean Lakes
- Western Branch
- Deep Run
- James River
To close out the evening in style we will then have the girls "A" race. This race features the return of defending champions, Maggie Walker and Mary Caroline Heinen who had the second fastest split ever last year as a sophomore.
This year she is back, faster than ever, but with only one other athlete from the 2017 squad. That means her and Mary Kemp have their work cutout for them if they want to repeat. They cannot be counted out though as they have finished in the top two every year.
Our pre-race favorites though are Western Albemarle, Deep Run, and Atlee in basically a dead-heat tie for first. These teams return four, four, and five from their teams' last year. This race will be the one to watch. Somehow, it could even be better than last year's race which came down to the final 10 feet!
Just like in the guys' race, this one will definitely come down to the order in which star runners run. This race will be close and that means you 100% want your ace on anchor. This isn't like a 4x2, positioning doesn't matter when it comes to this close of a race. You'd much rather get the baton down 15 seconds with your best runner up next than leading by 15 without your stud left.
Out of those three teams it is probably Deep Run leading the way with anchor strength. That of course is thanks to Lily Snow but she will not be able to make up much more than 20 seconds so this race will only partially be decided by the anchor runners.
Here is our predicted order of finish, not knowing the relay orders for these teams.
MileStat's Pre-Race Top 5
- Deep Run
- Western Albemarle