Step-by-step: distanced relay
How one school overcame social distancing rules to raise
over £5,000 with a relay event.
'After the first few weeks of lockdown, when PTA fundraising
took a backseat, we started thinking about ways to engage the
school community and, if possible, raise some money as well. We
found the idea for a socially distanced relay on a Facebook group,
and decided to give it a go, setting the date for 31 May - just two
weeks away - as we were keen to do something positive as soon as
possible. For the relay to be safe and manageable, we decided we
should limit the running area to the catchment area nearest the
school, and the number of legs to 50. We also decided it would be a
nice touch to end the relay at the school gates. There would be no
batons being passed - the next child would simply start running
when the previous runner was within two to three metres of
I created a Google Form for parents to register their children,
which also allowed us to collect contact information, addresses and
permission for videos and photos. We also asked parents to consent
to being included in a WhatsApp group for the event. To simplify
matters for parents with more than one child taking part, we
decided siblings should run together. We made it clear that every
child participating would need to be accompanied or supervised by a
It only took two days for us to enlist enough children for our
relay! I printed out a large-scale map of the area we planned to
cover from Google Maps, and marked all the children's addresses on
it. We had 33 relay legs that would be starting outside
participants' homes, so we had 17 additional relay legs to fit in,
to link the fixed addresses together. Much planning and re-planning
later, I had a provisional route. I then plotted it on Map My Run
(mapmyrun.com) to see how long the route was in
total. Rather satisfyingly, it was exactly 10km!
We kept parents updated on progress and encouraged them to
collect sponsorship for the event. We use Virgin Money Giving for
donations and sponsorship, so each family was able to set up a
fundraising page for their child, and promote it to family and
friends. We also received £100 from a parent on behalf of his
The next job was to walk the route to see if it worked. Happy
that it checked out, we shared the map with those taking part,
along with a spreadsheet with each numbered leg described. We also
shared the route map on our PTA's Facebook group and a couple of
local community Facebook pages, so people in the neighbourhood
would know what was going on and hopefully come out and support the
Each relay leg was numbered consecutively, from one to 50, and
to help us keep track of progress on the day, we numbered the
children too. I designed a runner number, and emailed one out to
each participant, to be printed out and pinned onto their T-shirt
on the day.
We were blessed with beautiful weather on the morning of the
relay. Our PTA Chair and I met runner number one at the start,
ready for the relay to begin at 10am. I broadcast the start of the
relay on our PTA Facebook group using Facebook Live, then followed
the progress of the children on WhatsApp and in person, where
I could, making sure I was at the school gates for the finish.
We had all year groups represented, from Early Years to Year 6.
Some of the children sprinted their leg, while others took a more
measured approach. Between them, they ran the 10km route in 48
The relay was a resounding success, and we received so many
positive comments from parents and supporters afterwards. In
particular, the Year 6 children and their parents were really
thankful that they had the chance to take part in one last primary
school event - something they'd thought could never happen.
I collected photos and video clips of all the children who
participated, and edited together a video of the event. This was
uploaded onto our Facebook group, and was also really well
received, as it gave people a sense of how the whole relay fitted
together and highlighted what an amazing coordinated achievement
the event had been. The fundraising total was certainly something
to be proud of as well, as we made an incredible £5,265.73!'
Sarah Everson, secretary, Friends of Halsford Park
School, East Grinstead, West Sussex (420 pupils)
- Decide the area within which you are going to stage your event,
and where you want the finish point to be. Set yourself a target
number of relay legs you want to fill, and put out a message to
parents to gauge interest. Agree a date, ideally on a day when
people are likely to be free from other commitments and when
traffic shouldn't be too busy (a Sunday morning works well).
- Set up a means for parents to register their children for the
relay, making sure you collect contact details and consent for
videos and photos to be taken of all participants, specifying where
these images might be used. Keep taking registrations until you
have enough runners to fill the number of relay legs available. If
possible, have a few 'reserve' runners as well, in case
participants drop out.
- Start mapping out your route, working it around participants'
home addresses where possible. Plot these on your map and work out
how best to link them together so each child has a reasonable
distance to run. Publicise your event and start collecting
- Check your route works in real life before sharing it with
participants and the wider community.
- Make sure every family knows which part of the route their
child is running, and where they need to start and finish. If
possible, have a WhatsApp group, or some other means of immediate
communication, set up for use during the race. Numbering the legs
of the relay and the runners really helps. Ask parents to take
photos and videos of their children.
- On the day of the event, make sure the first runner sets off on
time, and take a video. Monitor progress so that any problems, such
as missing runners, can be dealt with quickly. Make sure the
runners of the final leg are met at the finish.
- Collect together photos and video clips and make a film of the
event. Each participant and supporter will have only seen a small
part of the relay, so it's a great way of celebrating the event as
a whole. Thank everyone for participating and supporting, share the
video and the sponsorship total!
Share this page