Rope Runners roll best when started very gently! They should be held by the axle, as shown, then gently released. 


Clip clothes-pins along the ropes for holding the Rope Runners until it’s time to race. Number the clothes-pins to identify winners if you do a “Creativity” judging.

Experiencing Technical Difficulties?

If Your Rope Runner Won’t Balance or Won’t Run – Not to Worry! The Runner has probably become unbalanced due to an abundance of decoration. A clothes pin may be clipped at different heights along the dowels until the Rope Runner balances again. (Problem Solving!) 

One Rope * Stop-Watch Race

Easy to set up & quick to run * Everyone races only once * Time is measured on a stop watch * Fastest time wins * Good for very large groups * 

Two Rope ** Free For All

This is is our favorite, it’s a bit chaotic, but a lot of fun!  Easy to set up ** Quick to run  ** Everyone races only once ** Time is measured on a stop watch ** Fastest time wins. 

Pairs race against each other in successive eliminations, until there is a fastest race for each age level. (let the girls know in advance the rules for “missed-starts” or racers that fall)

Just let the racers line up in two lines as they wish, and race with whomever they want. Adults may think this lacks the structure of a real competition, but girls, especially the younger ones, are very happy to “do it their way” No prizes are given, just recognition or a patch for everyone who participates.

If you still want prizes and a winner, that’s easy to do, just give each participant the same number of “race tokens”. They may then race that many times, with whomever they wish, handing in a token for each race. Time all races with a stopwatch, and the fastest time wins,


Have the participants line up in pairs, which race against each other. The slower racer goes to the side to sit and watch, The faster goes back to the end of the line of pairs, making a new line. Keep going until one racer is left. To keep it fun for those sitting down, have them offer encouragement and do cheers for the remaining racers.

If time is short, you can give second and third place to those who stayed in until second and third from the end. Or, if more accuracy is desired, repeat the entire process, minus the first place winner, to determine second place. Do it all again, minus first and second placers, to determine third place.

By definition, the function of a Derby or race is to determine which Rope Runner is fastest. That admitted, it is our opinion at Rope Runner, that a very exciting and enjoyable event may be held without obsessing too much on the details of the race itself.

Rope Runners are all so different and creative, and they are so entertaining simply in their appearance and the wacky way they roll down the rope, we think the girls are satisfied with the simplest of racing formats, without a lot of emphasis on the competitive aspect. We prefer to place the emphasis on the joy of participating in a group activity and modeling how to have fun even if you dont win.

Let the size of your group and the time you have at your disposal determine how complicated to make your race. Some of our favorite race formats are described below. For a detailed explanation of various, more complex elimination methods, such as Round Robins, visit one of the Pinewood Derbysites. This one is very good:

We recommend keeping the races moving along quickly, so that those who have been eliminated do not become bored. Consider dividing a large group into smaller groups whose fastest racers can then compete in a grand finale, if desired. Other activities can be offered to those not racing at any given time. It is important to be very clear about the rules before you begin, and make sure everyone understands them.

Depending on the number of participants, and the time you have, decide in advance what to do with false starts and how to handle derailings and falls, emergency repairs, etc. Be sure that the ropes are equally fast by testing them in advance. Try to make their angle of descent and tautness exactly the same, then do some test runs. Also, tell the racers not to bounce the rope or give their Rope Runner a push to start, which also will bounce the rope. That only slows down the Rope Runner, and may even cause it to fall off the rope.