The New and Cool Ragnar Relay New England Brings the Ragnar Experience to Connecticut and Massachusetts
This year the Ragnar Relay brings its extraordinary format and buzz to Boston with a new 200-mile social party of running. There is still time to put a team together and join the adventure on September 11.
Posted Monday, 3 August, 2009
A Ragnar relay is a unique and powerful event. Teams of people are drawn together to experience the thrill, competition and camaraderie of an overnight relay. This is a challenging event, but structured so that anyone with the desire to participate can compete. Novice runners as well as hardcore athletes —and everyone in between--will enjoy the camaraderie inherent in the relay, running overnight with 36 legs. This year’s race from New Haven, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts will be no different.
“Loved the event! … It was amazing to me the life lessons learned while running. The things I learned about myself, about not giving up, about pushing a little harder, about calling on a Divine Strength when I've done all I can do. The race itself is something you can't really explain to anyone. You just don't get it until you've done it. The love and the forever bond you have with your teammates. It's just awesome. I look forward to next year. Thanks for the experience!!!” - Penny VanAusdal Wilson
Running with a team is a compellingly unique experience. The atmosphere of a Ragnar Relay is different than other endurance events. Runners develop a common purpose with team building and a great celebration as they cheer each other on and support the unique logistics of the overnight relay.
The Ragnar Relay has grown from a single very successful event in 2002 to a 12-race national series that attracts thousands of participants all over the USA. Each year new events have been added. This year the Ragnar Relay New England premiers. This growth is fueled by the terrific experiences provided. Runners enjoy a unique course, develop life-long bonds, and take in that magical mixture of athletic challenge and rolling party at these awesome events.
There is still time. Do something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Declare yourself a Captain. Gather a team of coworkers, friends or even strangers and join me for the Ragnar Relay New England experience.
New Haven to Boston--Ragnar Relay New England
“It was an amazing AMAZING experience- I’ll definitely be back next year!! Thank you for the encouragement, the hyper and cheerful volunteers, and overall such a positive and wonderful opportunity!” - Marne' Carbajal Merkurieff
The Ragnar Relay New England relay is new, bringing the Ragnar brand and concept to New England for the first time. The popular and successful Ragnar series continues to expand. This event and the first year Las Vegas event will add to the 10 other events already established in other regions of the country.
The Ragnar Relay race series has seen continued growth since it was founded at the Wasatch Back in 2002 by Tanner Bell and Dan Hill. They believed that there was an untapped opportunity for a professional series of overnight team relays. They followed their passion and have been growing ever since, adding events in all regions of the country.
Ragnar has momentum. Word of the positive experience is spreading quickly and even the new events are attracting crowds eager to find out what the buzz is all about. Last year the highly successful series added Washington, D.C. that attracted 112 teams in its first year. Florida was equally successful, as were southern California and New York earlier this year. Now the organization brings the Ragnar Relay to New England on September 11th with a 36-leg 200-mile party. Runners will see southern New England as never before.
Treat Yourself to an Overnight Relay – Anyone Can Do It!
“I had a blast at my first Ragnar. Not only those who work so hard to make it happen, but the other teams were what made it such a great experience. I can't wait to do it again next year, or maybe the LA or Vegas one. Thanks to all the teams that were so supportive of the other teams.” - Michael Taylor
Many of you may think, “I’m just a recreational runner, I could never do and overnight relay.” You would be mistaken. The Ragnar Relay is designed to be inclusive. Novices to ultra-runners, weekend warriors to competitors, fun seekers to serious athletes – the Ragnar Relay is an event for all abilities; and an experience that you will not soon forget.
The Ragnar Relay New England run much of the way on back roads from Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven, Connecticut to the Boat House on the Charles River, the finish line in Boston. The legs are designed to have varying lengths and levels of difficulty. This allows team members to apportion the running load appropriately to support teams of mixed abilities. For most runners the challenge of running 3 legs over 24 hours is well within their comfort zone.
Don’t be afraid to participate – join a team. There is room for many ability levels. Team pace varies from 11 minutes per mile to 6 minutes per mile. Staggered starts allow slower teams to run ahead and cover a lot of ground before the fast ones take off.
The team sizes are flexible, but the standard format calls for 12 members per team, each running three times. On the other side of the spectrum are the ultra-teams that compete with 6 team members, (like the team yours truly will be on at Ragnar New England this year).
What’s Different About an Overnight Relay and Why Is It So Cool?
“I think we’re extremely passionate about the experience, about the type of experience this provides, We believe it’s so much more than a run, it’s truly an experience. And there’s a run that comes with it, but the experience is why people participate.” -Tanner Bell, Ragnar Founder
Without exception runners who participate in the Ragnar Really will tell you they have a blast. Ask anyone who has run one and they will happily relate to you how much fun they had. There is something unique, something special, about the Ragnar events that people love.
One of the main differences in running a relay versus an individual event, like the marathon, is that the relay changes running from an individual sport to a team sport. There is much more interaction. When you run a marathon or any other event as an individual you are essentially alone. You may see your supporters once or twice on the course or you may be able to run with a friend, but for the most part you are alone.
In a relay you are part of a team. You are never alone. Your team is always with you, cheering you on when you need it. You start as a team and you finish as a team. You spend your time in the vans and transition zones with your teammates and the experience revolves around being a member of a tribe. The real thrill of a relay is that you are with fellow runners on a quest for adventure; the emotional dynamics of a small group struggling towards a common goal.
“The actual running is about the fifth thing I think of when considering what's cool about the Ragnar. First things are the adventure, camaraderie with teammates and other competitors, and lack of sleep!” -Tom Kilzer
The unique mechanics of an overnight relay are part of what defines the experience. The race runs through the night and takes approximately 24 hours to complete. Part of the challenge is in the logistics of running continuously at all hours of the day and night and coordinating enough sleep breaks to keep everyone ambulatory. The race motto says, “Run, drive, sleep, repeat!”
Typically teams will have two support or chase vehicles, usually vans because these have enough space to stretch out and potentially catch a nap in between legs. The teams must coordinate who is in which van, who is running, who is driving and who is sleeping so that everyone has a chance to get some rest and get ready and no one misses a leg when it’s their turn.
Everyone ends up running at least one leg during the night or early morning hours. For many participants this is one of the few times they have run, if ever, in the odd wee hours. To keep the runners safe they wear reflective vests and head lamps. Such is the stuff of epiphanies; to be exhausted and sleep deprived watching the sun come up while you are running with a van full of crazies cheering you on.
“There’s something so unique and wild and crazy about being in a van with five other stinky runners, staying up all night, running your middle leg under the stars.” -Tanner Bell, Ragnar Founder
These are the things that make the overnight relay unique and memorable, to teach us something about ourselves. The Ragnar Relay is a unique event that is tremendously valued regardless of their finish time or place.
“Rockin good time! Already planning for next year!” - Brook Clayton
With teams of likeminded participants it is expected that a party will break out somewhere along the way. Ragnar events encourage a wild and rollicking experience. Teams are encouraged to have whacky and offbeat team names. Many teams run in costume and decoration of support vans is also encouraged. There are various prizes awarded for ‘team spirit’ to fuel team creativity. If you’re going to spend the weekend in a van with crazy, sweaty friends you might as well have as much fun as possible!
In this atmosphere each exchange zone becomes a big party. Organizers even provide entertainment to fuel the festivities. At the end of the race you may be exhausted, but you will have a big grin on your face!
The Captain and the Team
“Had a blast! I enjoyed running and seeing the creativity of each van and the team names. Good race and good memories.” - Chad Hilton[/b]
The most important member of the team is the captain. The captain signs the team up and manages most of the logistics. This may seem like a daunting task, but really it isn’t too bad. Captains get the advantage of leveraging the experience of those who have gone before them at Ragnar.
Each event has been prepared and pre-planned for the captains and teams. There is a detailed “race bible” that contains turn-by-turn-maps of each leg, instructions and logistics. Spreadsheets are available for all team sizes to lay out the rotations of who runs, who drives and who sleeps when.
You may have a running club or a group of running friends to help build a team. Some of the more competitive teams are drawn from college sports teams or alumni. Some companies will use the Ragnar Relay as a powerful team building opportunity. Charities are a great fit too with teams of activists with a common purpose coming together to compete.
“The fat ankle was worth it...in those 18.1 miles I saw that I have more guts than I thought. Thanks for putting on a great race.” - Jenna Deelstra
How do you find those teammates to run with you? As it turns out there are teams looking for teammates and teammates looking for teams. The new world of social media means that they are able to find each other. It’s as easy as posting to the social networking sites Twitter or Facebook now to find a team or find that extra member to fill your team up.
The interesting thing about our team this year is that we are “virtual friends”. We all met via Twitter and some of us will meet for the first time at the event. Many teams, including ours, will be sending virtual updates out throughout the race.
The Ragnar Organization Keeps You Safe on the Road
It’s not all fun and games for the organizers and volunteers. The race organization works hard to keep you safe and make the race enjoyable. Careful planning goes into routing and transition to make sure the roads are as safe as possible.
Teams have staggered starting times based on predicted pace. This allows the scheduling of transition zones so there will be no bottlenecks or crowding. This insures that you will have plenty of company on the course. Evenly matched teams will trade places throughout the race for a nice sense of competition.
Dan Hill and Tanner Bell (the founders) laid out the New England course a few years ago making sure to choose back roads with wide shoulders.
Channel your Mythic Norse Adventurous Spirit at Ragnar Relay New England!
[i]“Ragnar was a 9th century Norse King. He was a pirate, a raider, a conqueror and an explorer. The tough, fearless, rugged attributes of this Norse King are shared by all who participate in a Ragnar Relay. In the end the spirit of Ragnar is difficult to describe to those who have not experienced it. Only when you cross the finish line of a Ragnar Relay, sleep-deprived, emotional, and glad to be finished, can you understand the spirit of Ragnar. Why? Because it is in that very instant that you realize your wild side wants to continue... continue running, exploring, and conquering.” – The Ragnar Relay
Why should you join us for the Ragnar Relay New England this year on September 11? Run for fun, run to compete, run to raise money for a cause or run for team building. Whatever your reasons, don’t miss out on this wonderful adventure!