Ragnar was a Norse Viking in the 9th century. He was an adventure seeking, conquering, tough guy. Which is why The Ragnar Relay was named after him. After running the race myself this last weekend I feel like I know Ragnar.
What is the Ragnar Relay?
The Ragnar Relay is a group of your friends or family, riding in 2 vans, running a relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport. Over 2 days and 1 night, teams run across 200 miles of the country’s most scenic terrain.
The adventure includes gradual grades, steep hills, heat, cold, wind, and sometimes even rain.
A team is made up of 6-12 individuals, each individual runs 3 legs. The legs of the race vary in difficulty and distance, from 3-8 miles. Pair that with crazy costumes, decorated vans, inside jokes, no sleep, and commitment to finish and you have the Ragnar Relay.
The original race, the Wasatch Back of Utah, was started by Dan Hill and Tanner Bell in 2004. There are now 14 additional Ragnar Relays across the United States. Utah’s Wasatch Back is still the largest and toughest of the relays.
- With over 1,100 teams and 12 members on each team, that’s over 14,000 runners!
- Each team has 2 vans = 2200 vans traversing from Logan to Park City while supporting their runners.
- In addition, each team provides 3 volunteers – an additional 3,519 people.
- Can you imagine the number of Honey Buckets that would require?
So…Why The Ragnar?
What makes people get together and push themselves to extreme limits?
#1 – To connect
Participation in a team sport gives you a sense of belonging and a chance to connect with others. When I was asked to be on the team for Ragnar, I thought, ”Are you kidding? I’m not a runner!” which was followed with, ”Wow! They want me on their team!” Once I cleared my schedule I immediately felt a bond. I was part of the team.
I wanted to succeed.
I wanted the team to succeed.
This deep connection was evident in every team that we came across during the race. They had a unified purpose. Some team names include:
- Don’t Hassle The Hoff – an all men’s team
- Fleet Feet
- Men in Tights
- Project RunAway
- Run Like a Mother
- Wasatch My Back
- Sole Sisters
The vans were decorated, giving more meaning to the race. For instance, one van had a big blue blowup donkey as their mascot which they carried to the finish line. Their team name was Hugh Jasses.
We laughed at each other, laughed at other teams, gave high fives and smiles to funny costumes. The connection was evident.
#2 – To Conquer
On my last run in Heber, I was running a gradual uphill for 5.5 miles on one of the most scenic mountain roads I’ve ever traveled. But with just a third of the way left to go, I was feeling intense pain in my legs. My calves started to cramp, my hips were sore and my feet were dragging. The heat was getting to me. The uphill climb seemed like forever.
As I lifted my head, in the distance I could see angels. Angels in funny 80’s spandex outfits, waving their arms like crazy!
It was my teammates, the Running Dancer Legs. As I came closer they cheered me on, sprayed me with a peppermint water mist, quenched my parched lips with electrolyte water and sent me on. I was close to the exchange – my quest to conquer was near! For me, finishing this leg of the race meant the completion of my 16 miles. I fixed my eyes on a runner ahead of me taking one step after another… keep going… keep moving… stay in the game… to the finish. And as I crossed the exchange point and handed the slap bracelet to my fellow teammate I felt relief, accomplishment, euphoria, connection – I had conquered the impossible.
#3 – To Celebrate
The celebration came at the end when our last runner came through the Park City mountains and onto the finishing field. We all ran in together with celebration leaps and fist pumping in the air! It was time to celebrate! And celebrate we did!
What’s Your Ragnar?
Adventures are like giving birth – you wouldn’t consider doing it again tomorrow, but you just might forget the pain and remember the rewards enough to do it again in the future.
Inside all of us there is a Ragnar. What’s your Ragnar?