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How to Hold a Three-Legged Race

Players with similar heights may find a three-legged race easier.
ERproductions Ltd/Blend Images/Getty Images

A three-legged race is a fun outdoor party or carnival game. Like any race, competitors aim to win, but it's hard to take a three-legged race too seriously. Players work in pairs but are handicapped by having two of their legs tied together, making them race with three legs instead of four. To win, each pair must work out how to move effectively as a team.

Set Up the Race

Work out the length of your race course. Keep in mind that runners hobble rather than run, so it doesn't need to be too long. However, you should give them enough of a stretch to get into their stride and develop team tactics as they go. You need a scarf or piece of soft fabric for each pair of runners -- it's a good idea to have some spares for people who decide to take part at the last minute. Don't use rope or anything that might rub on players' legs; however, it is useful to have a couple of pieces of rope to mark the start and finish lines. You also need volunteers to tie legs together, start the race and stand at the end to note down the winners -- if you're going to take part yourself, give these roles to other adults or older kids.

Tie Legs Together

Split players into pairs or, if they prefer, let them choose their own partners. If you have both parents and kids racing, you can team them up in adult/child pairs or pit adults against kids. Get the players in a pair to stand next to each other and have them put their arms around each other's waists. Use the scarf or piece of fabric to tie their inside legs together at the ankle. Be careful not to tie the material too tightly or loosely. Players should have some movement in the tie but not enough to move their legs independently.

Run the Race

Let players practice walking in pairs to get used to moving with three legs. If you wish, give them tips on how to move. Pairs have the best chances of success if they move their tied legs at the same time. However, it may be more fun for runners -- and the people watching -- to just let them go for it. Tell teams that they must stop and retie their legs if the scarf falls off. Line them up on the starting line and say "go" when you're ready to start the race. The pair that reaches the finish line first wins.

Three-Legged Race Variations

If you have a lot of kids and are short on time, put pairs into teams and try a three-legged relay. If you don't have enough room for a longer course, have teams run back and forth along a shorter one. If you don't have batons, get pairs to tag or high-five team members. You can also make a regular three-legged race a little more challenging by incorporating an obstacle course or by having each runner carry an egg and spoon. If you want to mix things up for adults or older kids, have one member of the pair face forward and one face backward. This makes walking much harder for both players and really tests their teamwork skills.

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