Lesson 1: The Setup

A three-legged race is one that requires teams of two. You and your partner stand next to each other, and your inside legs are tied together. This creates the effect of turning your two separate legs into one.

Once everyone is tied up, all the competing partners line up together at the starting line.

Lesson 2: The Race

At some signal, all teams begin moving from the starting line to the finish line. Most tactics are allowable, but intentional interference with other teams is generally against the rules.

The first team to cross the finish line wins the race.

Lesson 3: Techniques for Winning

There are two most commonly used techniques. The "just try not to trip" technique, which involves just trying to move as fast as you can, and pulling your partner along. The other is the "inside outside" technique, which has both partners chanting "Inside. Outside. Inside. Outside..." which is supposed to correspond to which leg should be moved. Teams usually will start of slow, and build pace until they trip, at which point the cycle will be restarted.

Most people will spend at least a couple minutes practicing and developing their own techniques before the race, although this is not necessary.

Lesson 4: Where to Find the Races

Three-legged races seem to crop up in two main places:

  • Events for children: Children usually love the races, and will be quite giddy before, during, and after the race. Depending on the event, a parent (or other legal guardian) may be the partner of his/her child.
  • Company picnics: At company picnics, most participants do not actually wish to participate, but want to look like a team player. It is an especially bad idea to turn down an offer of partnership from the boss.

If you're really itching to join a race, but haven't been explicity invited, don't fret. Everyone is implicitly invited to every three-legged race. Nobody has ever been turned away once showing up at a race.

Lesson 5: Getting your Prize

If any prize is given out at three-legged races, it is usually an environment in which every participant "wins." The prizes are most often tacky and useless. Your best bet, for the sake of others, is to just smile and thank the gift giver.

Compare with sack race.

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