The Ragnar Relay Series returns to Florida this November for the second running of the 36-leg overnight relay from Clearwater on the Gulf of Mexico to Daytona Beach on the Atlantic. Teams of enthusiasts will run through the day and night in shifts. Some will wear crazy costumes, some will run for charity, some will run for bragging rights, but all will have a blast.
This race is designed to be inclusive, as are all 12 of the Ragnar Relays. The overnight relay format is an adventure that promotes team building and camaraderie, the “experience”, as few adventures can. Florida is one of 12 Ragnar Relays in every section of the USA, expanding the availability of the overnight relay race as it becomes more and more popular with runners around the country.
You have never seen Florida in this way, an experience like nothing else. Get your officemates together, grab your running buddies, or form a team online, but get to Florida on the weekend of Nov 21st for a rollicking good time at the 24-hour relay race running across the Florida peninsula. You will see farms, lakes, rivers and wildlife habitat on this well chosen trek.
What is an Overnight Relay?
The Ragnar Relay runs overnight, approximately 24 hours, and covers 191 miles in 36 legs. There are two main types of teams; a 12 person team and a 6 person ‘ultra’ team. There is historically some flexibility from the organizers to allow for extra team members or fewer. An example of this would be a recent 15 member team for a cancer charity. Another interesting example is the team of 1 person who ran the whole race.
A regular team of 12 requires each team member to run 3 legs between 3 and 8 miles with each runner completing 12 to 20 miles over the course. The ultra teams will either run 6 legs each or run 3 longer legs over the same course.
It usually takes a team between 18 and 35 hours to complete the Relay. Teams are started at staggered times based on projected pace. The staggered start allows the organizers to manage traffic along the route and avoid congestion in the transitions (hand off points). More importantly staggering the start allows teams to compete with like teams on the course with all teams finishing close to the same time.
One of the most challenging (and fun) aspects of running for 24 hours is that everyone gets to run in the dark! This is something that many of us would normally never get to experience—certainly not in the wee hours. All teams experience the sunset and sunrise, moon and starts as they rush along rural roads. In the Ragnar Relay Florida you will speed along on deserted back roads with your teammates cheering you on. You could be the one to run into the breaking dawn as the sun rises over the Atlantic on the horizon.
To make all this work smoothly the Ragnar Relay organization will organize 12 similar events around the country, and they do it like clockwork every time, although each region has its unique challenges and rewards. There is also the organization of the team itself. The logistics of the relay require each team to have two support vehicles that leapfrog the legs, dropping and picking up as the team progresses across the state. This is part of the fun, and part of the camaraderie as you carry out your plan. The organization and logistics are as much a part of the competition as the actual running.
Each team has a captain to organize the details and each captain has the safety net of the ‘race bible’ that spells out all the details to make for a safe, challenging and wonderful experience.
Why You Should Run the Ragnar Relay Florida
First, the overnight relay format is accessible to any skill level. If you can run a 5 mile road race or a 10K, you can handle the relay. It sounds daunting to run across the entire state of Florida. And although it is a challenge it is one that you can master. When your friends ask you what you’re doing this weekend, how would you like to say, “I’m running across the state in 24 hours!”
The events have very fast teams who race to win outright or win a division. As with any race, these teams will complete the course with a 6 minute-per-mile pace or better. The structure of the Ragnar Relay allows all abilities from the hard core to the weekend warrior to get out there, do something cool and have a blast with friends.
From the elite runner down to the novice jogger, it’s the perfect relay adventure for everyone. You also don’t have to stress about finding a team or filling in members for your team. The Ragnar Relays are established events with a large following. You can post on Facebook or Twitter and quickly find a team or runner to fill out the roster.
Second, it’s not just about the running, it’s about the party! Talk to participants who have run a Ragnar Relay and they will tell you how the vans are a rolling party—an all night, all day party. The emotional swings of running through the night create a euphoria and devil-may-care environment that brings out the best celebrations in people. As the race progresses the teams let their hair down and the party rolls forward with cheering and antics--niter team fun and competition, as well as intra team enjoyment.
Ragnar Relays provide live bands, vendor booths, runner support, and food and drink at each transition point and along the course to keep teams moving and motivated. Many of the participants go all out. They decorate their vans; wear face paint, wigs, Viking helmets, or other costumes. There are awards for ‘team spirit’. The revelry is contagious and very much encouraged.
Come to run, but also come to have fun!
Third, the bond that you form with your team is unforgettable. There is something special about 12 people hanging out with each other through the overnight relay that encourages tremendous camaraderie. If you weren’t friends before, you will be after hanging out in two sweaty vans for 24+ hours.
The event is perfect for organizations and team building. Families, corporations, old-friends, school teams, and running clubs are all represented. No matter why you run, or who you run with, spending this time on the course together will create a team bond that will endure far beyond the finish line.
A typical road race is about the individual, but the relay race is about the team. In a marathon or other individual event you are essentially alone against the course, and might see your support crew (if you have one) once or twice. In a Ragnar Relay that support crew is constantly with you, cheering you, smiling, pushing you up the hills, and cajoling you through the inevitable low points. You are never alone.
You will not find a better crucible to forge a team—and a bond--than the Ragnar Relay Florida. Get your team together and get ready for the experience of a lifetime. This is something you’ll be telling the Grand-kids about.
Are You Ready for the Ragnar Relay Florida?
There is a great and growing buzz in the running community around Ragnar generally and their 12 relays in particular. Ask anyone who has participated. Listen to the incredible feedback they will give you. Thousands of runners can’t be wrong. The Ragnar Relay Florida will continue to pull the running community together this year on the weekend of Nov 21st. You should be there.
Join the party. You can do it. Many people run Ragnar Relays, not just because they are runners, but because they don’t want to miss the party! And it is a unique traveling party.
Do something memorable, get your team together, make your plans and be there for the fun!