I love puzzles, so it's been fun trying to piece together Blue Line Beginner relay teams to fit a number of requests and varied paces. And by golly, we're almost there!

Because the five relay legs make up a full marathon - and the marathon course is open for six hours - the primary goal was to try to put together five people who could finish the course in 360 minutes. I've got a draft of six teams ready to show Akron Marathon staff when I meet with them Wednesday for a final review.

But in the process of doing this exercise, I had all kinds of questions pop into my head, so I contacted my nephew Dan Freeman, who is organizing the Mile 12 relay zone. Here are a few things I learned:

* Many Team Relay members won't need to show up at the race till later in the morning. Because our teams will be taking the full six hours to cross the finish line, there's no reason to show up for the 7 a.m. start if nobody is going to reach your relay zone till, say, 11 a.m. We will give you some guidance as to when you need to be at your relay station after we make team assignments.

* Likewise, if you run the first leg of the relay and you don't or can't wait till your team is finished, you can enjoy as much of the Finisher Festival as you like and then leave. We'll need to make arrangements to get you your medal, however, as the medals of all team members are collected (and distributed) by the person who crosses the finish line. Expect our teams to be finishing around 1 p.m.

* The relay zones are super exciting and high energy areas! There will be more than 1,000 runners in each of them, all waiting for their teammate to cross the timing mat so they can get started on their segment. To help facilitate that, there are up to 40 volunteers in each relay zone whose sole purpose is to spot approaching runners and walkers and call out bib numbers so the folks lounging in the corrals can get into position. It sounds like some crazy chaos, but the Akron Marathon has 14 years of experience doing this.

* When you cross the timing mat to complete your relay segment, don't come to a stop. There are 1,000 or more runners in corrals marked by ranges of bib numbers and it's quite possible you'll still need to go up to two-tenths of a mile just to reach the box where your teammate is waiting.

* Our Half Marathon runners/walkers who are also doing the first leg of one of our BLB relay teams will reach their No. 2 teammate at Mile 5.8. Typically half marathon participants run on the opposite side of the street from the relay zone, but in this case, the half marathoners will run into the relay zone to reach their teammate, then run back out to continue along the half marathon course. They can expect to lose a little time in navigating the crowd. In cases where the half marathon runner is trying hard to maintain a pace, there is a technique where you can remain outside the relay zone and make the exchange from there, but your teammate will need to understand this and be hyper vigilant to get into position quickly.

* If your relay zone is downtown, you will need to park in a designated area and walk to it. If your relay zone is in a neighborhood, there will be other designated parking places with shuttle buses available all morning. Likewise, if you complete your leg downtown, you'll need to walk to the stadium for the Finisher Festival. If you're in a neighborhood, there will be shuttles to ferry you to Canal Park to await the big finish.

Anyway, those were just some of the questions that came to mind yesterday, but you may have more. In a couple of weeks, I'm going to do five days of blogs, each one focused on a different relay segment with as much detail as I can squeeze in! So if you have any questions you want me to answer, email me at akronrun@thebeaconjournal.com and I'll make sure to get them answered.

Oh, and yes, every relay zone has portable toilets!

-- Paula