Relay Races with a Difference

Relay races provide a good opportunity for teams to compete against each other. The races detailed here are some of the more unusual and fun varieties that we have come across. Some of these relays require more intimacy than some people are comfortable with, so use your judgement as to which races are suitable for the age and situation you want it for.

You may find it useful for yourself or a member of a team to give a demonstration of how things are done before actually running a race.


Equipment: One orange or similar sized fruit per team
Preparation: None

Teams stand in a line with the first member of the team holding the orange. The objective is to pass the orange down the line to the last team member without using their hands. As the name suggests this is done by gripping the orange under your chin (no hands remember!) then turning round to face the next person and for them to the orange under their chin. This process being repeated down the line to the last person. Either stop the relay at this point or have the last person run to the front and start again. The race stopping when the first person ends up at the front again.

Knees and balloon 

Equipment: Balloon for each team with spares for accidents
Preparation: None

Teams have to pass the balloon by gripping it between their knees. Last person to get it runs to the front of the line and starts the passing again. No hands allowed!!



Equipment: Balloon for each person with spares for accidents.
Preparation: None

Have a number of balloons enough for each team member. First person runs and pick up a balloon, holding it between their knees they have to get back to their team and using their knees only pass it onto the next member of the team who passes it to the next and so on. When the last player gets the balloon they pop it, run to the balloon and repeats the process. This continues until the first person who ran is back once again at the front. Have plenty of spare balloons to replace those that accidentally pop during the game.


Equipment: Bag of unshelled peanuts (enough for 10 per team), two chairs for each team.
Preparation: Chairs placed at either end of the team so that the seat of each faces the team. With 10 peanuts placed on a chair of each team.

Each team stands in line each holding the hands of the team members at either side of them. Teams have to transfer the peanuts one at a time to the other chair with hands remaining clasped.


Equipment: A ring and a long piece of string for each team.
Preparation: None

Each team, standing or sitting in a circle, has a long piece of cord which all players hold with both hands. Thread the string through the ring and then tie the ends of the string together. Teams have to pass the object/ring round the circle several times.

Eggs and Spoon

Marbles on teaspoons

Never done this?.... usually a race done at school fetes or sports days, at least in the UK. Each player has to run balancing an egg (raw or hard boiled) in the bowl of the spoon. Or in the case of the marbles, a marble balanced in the bowl of a teaspoon. If the object falls off players would have to stop, pick it up and replace it before running on again.

It used to be with players holding the spoon by its handle between their teeth, but there is a risk (and reported incident) where players have tripped and ended up with handle going into the back of their mouths. It is suggested that players just hold the spoon in their hands and keep the egg balanced.


Equipment: Ball of wound string for each team.
Preparation: None

Each team stands or sits in a circle, one member of the team holds the ball of string. He/she ties one end of the ball of string to one of his/her fingers and at a signal passes the ball to the next person, unwinding the necessary amount of string this continues around the circle for several laps. At completion of these laps the ball of string has to be returned to the original player by rewinding the ball of string, each player putting at least one turn of the string back onto the ball.

Spoon on a String game

Sent in by Claire Ferguson

Divide into teams of about 5 or 7 for each team. For each team have a spoon tied to the end of a long piece of string (long enough to link all team members together). Teams stand in line and have to pass the spoon from player to the next by passing it through their t-shirts / tops. First team that finishes wins.


A variation of this was played at St George's Medical School as one of the student induction team games... Men had to pass the string down their trouser legs while women had to pass the string through their tops. No prizes for guessing how teams cheated.


Sent in by Kelly Stringer, 1st Paulton Guides, Somerset, UK

2 teams, Gaffer tape (or other wide strong tape, eg parcel tape), 2 plates, 2 tins of sardines.

Team members are led to the floor arms by sides legs together and then gaffered up (bound around the waist with arms taped to sides, around ankles, calves and knees). 

The tin of sardines is opened and placed on the plate at the other end of the room. Team members must work together to clear the plate, but work in relay to reach the plate.... by humping across the floor like a seal to get to the plate and eat (or not eat (always have this option!)) what they can and return to their team at the other end to release another seal to eat (or not) some more sardines. Continue until every team member has been up at least once, and the plate of sardines is clear. 

If nobody likes sardines, substitute something else.... like baked beans.

N.B. This is one of those games which is not to every parents taste, so be warned. It may be better to explain the game first then ask for volunteers. Make sure all players are happy to play the game. Other caveats are possibly only playing this with older youth (who appreciate this type of game) and getting team members to tape themselves up (one member staying free).

"The only problem we found was 1 person on our team of 8 liked sardines, and had to eat them all, but we had to go up and back just because. We ended up changing it to a shallow bowl of water with some apples, or a plate of baby food, apple sauce, donuts well anything really, but i don't think you can get away with taping their legs and arms up anymore."

Hand Ball

Equipment: Ball or balloon for each team
Preparation: None

Teams form a line and try to get a ball from one end of the playing area to the other, but by passing the ball backwards over their heads with outstretched arms to the player behind. As soon as a player has passed the ball/balloon they run to the back of the line ready to receive the ball again when it reaches him/her. Game stops when team reaches the other end of the hall room.

`Wibbly Wobbly’ Race 


2 cricket stumps or small waist high stakes for each team

Adult version: 2 pints of lager/cider/beer (or 2 half pints) for each player!

Preparation: If playing the drinking version… play several pints later.

This is an adaptation of a more adult version that was popular at university. Although it is more fun with alcohol (if the age of the players allows it!!) it can be played with out.

Two posts, no more than a metre in height (eg cricket stumps), are placed for each team a good 10 metres apart. Teams line up a distance behind one set of posts. Each team member then in turn has to run to the first post, put their forehead on the stump and holding their head there circle the post as fast as they can anywhere between 10 - 20 times (you choose). They then have to run to the next post and repeat it before running back to the team. Sounds simple? Just make sure there is a fair distance between teams to allow for those players who somehow loose a sense of direction!

The ‘adult’ version requires each participant to down 1 or ½ a pint at each end before running around the post. The results are funnier when several pints or more have already been drunk before the game!

Down and Back  

Equipment: Football or small ball for each team
Preparation: None

Each team needs a football or small ball. Each team member alternately runs with the ball to a predetermined line and leaves it there or runs and picks the ball up bringing it back for the next team member to take it back to the line.

Water Fill

Set out an obstacle course taking full advantage of what's available to you, eg going under tables, under and/or over netting, walking along planks or logs of wood, hurdles... with an empty bucket for eac h team at the end of the course.  Teams are given the task of filling a bucket with as much water as possible in the fastest time, but they can only do it by one member at a time running around the obstacle course with a plastic tumbler of water. If they spill any or all the water they still have to complete the course with the tumbler before returning directly and passing the beaker onto the next member of the team. Give each team member one or two goes. Points awarded for finishing first and points for most water (use a ruler to measure depth).

Time Ball  

Equipment: Ball for each team
Preparation: None
Teams lines up with about 2m between each player and with the first player a little distance back from the line, as shown in the diagram. Each team has a leader who stands on the line facing his/her team with the ball. The ball is thrown to the first member of the team who catches it, and then runs with it to around the rest of their team team back to their position. Once there they throw the ball back to the team leader and sit down. The ball is then thrown over the first player to the second team member who on catching it repeats the process, running around the back of their team but only runs back to their position. This continues with each player until the last member who simply throws the ball back and sits down finishing the game.

Grab Bag Scoff

Find this and other games at Jonathan's Resources.

Items needed: 2 bags, lots of different food items equally shared between the bags.

Can be played as a relay, but Jonathan prefers to play it as an up front game involving 6-8 people and regards it as a great game for a guys against gals night.

Obtain 2 bags of miscellaneous food items. They must have the same amount of items in each bag. E.g. package of unsweetened Kool Aid [or UK equivalent - perhaps cold black coffee?- ed], a candy bar, soda [fizzy drink or tonic water], a can of sardines, a dill pickle, an onion slice, a clove of garlic, etc. Each bag should have 12-15 items in it. The object of the game is that the first team to eat the entire contents of the bag wins! NB: Kids might need to vomit after a game like this so give them the bag or make sure the nearest exits to the bathrooms are not blocked! 

[Editors note - As with all games, if you choose to play this game no personal liability will be taken for consequences!! As it also depends on what you choose for the contents.]

Fanning the kipper 

Paper fish shapes are cut out and lined up on the floor. Each child (and adult) crouches behind one and on the word ‘Go’ fans it with a magazine towards a dish at the far end of the room. First one to fan a kipper onto the dish wins.


This is very easy game and a great one for adapting for different ideas like this one developed for games themed around Canada

Canadian Flag

Sent in by Pat Adams

This can be played in teams or by individuals. You need two red paper stripes/bars, a red paper maple leaf, a white sheet of paper and straws. The idea is from a set point to blow the bars and maple leaf onto the white background so that it looks like the Canadian Flag.

Pushing the Matchbox  

Get six empty matchboxes, and six blowers (some people call them "devil's tongues"), but you probably know what is meant! Those party blowers that make a high-pitched raspberry noise, with a paper tube that unrolls and waggles when you blow into it. Choose six guests, give each a blower, and on the word go, they have to blow the blowers at the matchboxes and push them towards the finishing line. The first one over this line is the winner. Do this in heats, and then have the champion's race.

Ping Pong Push  

Each competitor is required to push a ping pong ball over a short course with his nose. More amusement will be caused if the course is one that requires the player to push the ball back home as the player then has to turn his ball round the corner!


Give each team the pieces to a simple unassembled jigsaw (maximum of 50 pieces). One jigsaw for each team. Each team member then has to take a piece of the jigsaw to a table at the other end of a course (either through an obstacle course, slalom or straight sprint), put in down or place it in the the puzzle and return. Only one member can be at the table at any one time, but they can put other pieces in place. If there are no more pieces left to be taken to the table the team can nominate a team member to run the course and complete the jigsaw. First team to complete the jigsaw wins.  


Each team either nominates a team member or takes it in turns. Shallow tray filled with honey, treacle or some other sticky substance, players first have to fish out without using their hands a cork or coin from it. They then go to another tray/box filled with Rice Krispies (Crispy puffed rice cereal in the UK, or similar product) and again without using their hands find and fish out the object hidden it this... said "messy". Have soap and water on standby...  and a broom.


Another old favourite... Plenty of economy toilet rolls. One team member is nominated to stand perfectly still. Other team members then have to wrap them up so they look like an Egyptian mummy. Points awarded for first to finish and points to best dressed mummy.



Sent in by Maria Grainger

A great variation for playing in the Winter or at Christmas time! Play as Mummy described above, but add woolly hats and scarves, also pens and blank stickers so the kids can draw eyes and buttons for their snowmen. Carrots can also be used if you wish - the snowman will need to hold it in their mouth.

The Sponge

Credited to Elizabeth Oliveras

Some games are just too good not to share and this one from Jonathan's Resources is quick, very easy and lovely and messy in a wet sort of way!

Divide your group in teams and stand them in rows. In front of each row place a bucket with water and a sponge and at the back of each row place an empty bucket to collect water. When the time starts running, the person in the front dips the sponge and passes it to the back of the line where the last person squeezes the water into the bucket. The row that manages to collect the most water wins.  Be prepared for wet bodies and floors!