If your idea of a great time with friends is spending 24+ hours in a van, not showering, not sleeping, running up steep hills at 6000+ feet and eating bagels for every meal then the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey is for you. This popular relay style running race starts from Reno and covers 178 miles including sections along Lake Tahoe and beautiful back roads through the Sierras. Spoiler alert: there are also some less majestic sections that have you running next to highways and Walmarts. But if you want to spend some serious quality time with friends, nothing like being sweaty and stinky in a van to bring you closer, and have a serious running goal, then you’ll love the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. Or you will mostly love it.


How it works:

  • If you’re doing the race with a standard twelve person team which is what most teams do, each runner will run three legs ranging in distance from 3-8 miles.
  • Your team will be divided into two vans. One van will be tackling the course, one runner at a time, and the other van will be resting or getting into whatever shenanigans they come across. After every runner from the active van has run then it is the other vans turn to run.

    Reno-Tahoe Odyssey
    Find your own little spot along the Truckee River for a mid-race cool off
  • While a person from your van is running the team offers support by giving them water, encouragement and checking in on them whenever possible. There are sections of the course that don’t permit the van to accompany their runner.
  • Your team will be assigned a start time. Since these vary it’s hard to say when or where you will be doing your night running, i.e. don’t plan on taking a selfie of yourself running next to the lake because it might be after dark by the time your team reaches the lake..

    Reno Tahoe Odyssey
    The race starts at a park along the Truckee River in Reno

Why it’s “fun”:

So far this probably just sounds like a lot of running and driving and you’re wondering why anyone would do this. Here are some of the things that make it enjoyable.

  • Team spirit. The organizers of the race strongly encourage teams to dress up and get goofy. There is an award for “most spirited”. Get funky matching shirts, water squirters, decorate your van, make a play list, whatever it takes to get pumped up.

    Reno-Tahoe Odyssey
    Don’t forget to make time pre-race to decorate your vans
  • Connecting with other teams. You’ll have lots of opportunities at the different exchange points along the way to give high fives to other teams and feel the warm fuzzy vibes of being amongst kindred, crazy, sweaty, souls.

    Reno-Tahoe Odyssey
    Making friends and taking ridiculous pictures with other teams
  • Seeing the Lake Tahoe region in a whole new way. I’ve been to Tahoe countless times but doing the Reno Tahoe Odyssey takes you through the nooks and crannies that you miss when you’re traveling by car.IMG_2153IMG_2165IMG_2145
  • Going a little nutty. There will be a point along the way when the fatigue catches up with you and everything becomes funny and ridiculous. Embrace those moments of insanity with your van mates.
reno tahoe odyssey
Run hard, play hard


  • Pack wisely. The vans fill up quick so make sure you’re savvy with the packing. Everyone doesn’t need to bring their own peanut butter but you do want to make sure everyone has plenty of warm clothes for the chilly nights.
  • Read the Reno- Tahoe Odyssey Runner’s Handbook. The race will email participants a handbook. It’s long but full of valuable info about the course and training tips.
  • Hats, sunscreen, running sunglasses, thirst quenching drinks, water squirters will be your besties throughout the race.
  • Take naps whenever possible. Or if the timing works out crash in a motel in South Lake Tahoe for a few hours and split the cost among teammates.
  • Show your body some love post-race. A massage, a lounge day on the lake, all you can eat tacos, whatever it takes to recover!IMG_2257


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