It’s no secret that connecting with other teams is one of the quickest and easiest ways to create a memorable relay. We are social creatures, and making new running or walking friends can be as easy as saying hello when you’re waiting at an exchange. The best connections are built on shenanigans and laughter. But how do you get started?

One of the easiest ways to begin connecting with other teams on the course is through van tagging. Not unlike graffiti tags, van tagging involves letting know the other teams that you’ve been near. Going in to stealth mode to leave a tag is entertainment in itself. You don’t need a whole lot of gear to join in the tagging fun. Here’s our quick guide to creating your own tagging plan:

1. Consider your tagging options.
The easiest and least expensive tagging option is to use a window paint pen. Think of an easy to recreate symbol that represents your team – Kiss My Assphalt uses lips, Fear the Turtle a cute green turtle. Team initials can work too. If you want finer control of your image, look for the Sharpie water based paint pens (be sure you get the right ones!) with finer tips.

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See the green turtle on their window? Gettin’ Edge-y 2 was tagged by Fear the Turtle using a paint pen…

Another option for tagging is to make up inexpensive magnets.  You can purchase magnet material and handwrite a message (source here) or you can design and print your own magnets. Vistaprint often has sale prices for their business card sized magnets, keeping them a reasonably priced option.  You’ll want magnet material that is at least .30 thickness to make sure they don’t blow away.

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The magnet on the lower left was our tagging magnet for the 2013 Bourbon Chase.

If you are lucky enough to have a teammate with an artistic or crafty bent, you could cut a custom stencil to use with a window paint pen in the shape of a team mascot or logo.

We’ve also seen teams who forgo marking up vans and go straight to leaving “sympathy” cards – writing silly messages like “sorry you won’t beat us to the finish line” or “it was nice running with you”. You can find inexpensive cards here.

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The “Cereal Killers” take tagging a step further and leave tiny bags of cereal on the other vans with the message, “You Got Shreaded”…now that’s taking tagging to a whole new level.

2. Be funny, not crude.
Tagging can be a blast, but not everyone appreciates a picture of poop or genitals on their windows. Use good judgment when you are tagging, and keep it clean. The messages should be positive – this is about having fun and making friends, not making you public enemy #1!

3. Don’t use stickers, permanent pens or anything else that might mess up someone’s van.
We have had reports of stickers that can’t be removed being used for tagging. If someone shows up with stickers for tagging, hand them out or put the sticker with the backing still on it under a windshield wiper.  Doublecheck any paint pen you want to use on your own windows first.

4. Have fun with it.
The point of tagging is to start connecting with other teams. There is an art and a thrill to a good tag, and great tags will start conversations with other teams about your symbol or tagline. Be creative, brainstorm ideas with your team, and use the art of tagging to elevate your relay game.