Why do we run Ragnar Relays to benefit charity? The answer is because you can’t do epic alone. It wasn’t always that way though. In the very beginning, the hope was to prove we could physically pull it off.
To the uninitiated, a Ragnar Relay is a 12 person, approximately 200-ish mile relay style race. We have run two different courses, their Chicago course. It ran from Madison, WI over to the Milwaukee area and then south into Chicago to Montrose Beach. We ran that three times. This year, we’ll be running Ragnar Michigan for the second time and it goes from Muskegon, which is on the west side of the mitten, say middle knuckle of your pinkie, and finishes in Traverse City, MI which is about your top knuckle of your ring finger. All distances and Michigander hand navigation are approximations. 🙂
I think anyone who’s never done one really approaches that first time pretty cautiously. You just don’t know how it’s going to go. If you train well enough, then the running should be fine but how do you account for enough sleep, when to eat properly, etc.? It’s a ton of fun but nerve wracking to say the least. This fall, at Ragnar Michigan, will be my 5th Ragnar that I’ve run and it both elicits excitement and nerves and at some point in the race, I’ll ponder my sanity and whether it’s worth doing. I say that because I’ve had those feelings 4 times now. I’ve also had the feeling that there were sections of the race that I owed something to as they may have caught me off-guard. I’m thinking about that night run last year where my hip hurt and I wanted to quit as one so there’s a possibility that I try to exact some revenge on that leg assignment again.
But again, it all comes back to this: you can’t do epic alone! We have had, in 4 years, approximately 30 different runners who have laced up their running shoes for Runnin’ Not Walken and it’s the comradery of the team that is another factor in this. Running is largely a solo sport but running a Ragnar is the farthest thing from it. You CANNOT do this alone. If someone gets sick, can’t go at the last second, gets injured, or drops, like we have had happen before and during the race, it affects everyone in some capacity.
Our second year, we had a runner get sick from the heat and unable to finish the race after his first run. This caused two different runners to pick up his distance. This past year, we had a runner have a family emergency 48 hours from when we were going to leave, and had to drop so we ran with 11. The trickle down was that 4 different runners covered his mileage. When you’re sleep deprived, etc., adding extra mileage makes a difference.
That’s not to say that any of this is easy. You’re stuck in a van for largely 30 hours and that’s not counting the ride to the race and you’re pretty much with the same group. You might have ridden to the race with different people but when Van 1 leads off the race, that group is together for the long haul and may only see the runners in Van 2 for maybe an hour the whole race. It’s imperative to have great “teams” within the team. The mix of runners and personalities is important and I think Runnin’ Not Walken has been blessed with not just good runners but great people and that leads us to why we do all of this craziness and why it works.
First off, you have to have a charity you believe in. That we have had in spades. We ran to benefit Kate’s Kart, Inc. here in Fort Wayne for 3 years. They’re an incredible group and if you’ve got a soft spot for kids, look them up at www.kateskart.org .
This year, we’re running to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne for the first time and they’re amazing too. They bring people with needs, largely related to issues with their home, in touch with neighbors looking to offer a helping hand. Projects they’ve helped on have included everything from as simple as snow blowing a driveway for the elderly during a particularly cold winter spell to something as costly and complex as attempting to repair or replace a furnace for a family who may not have the funds to tackle such a large and expensive job. The organization and its volunteers truly operate with a servant’s heart and there’s not a thing they do that you wouldn’t love. Check out their website and specifically, our fundraising page at: https://www.nlfw.org/project/15772
Secondly, when you take on an event of that magnitude, it’s something you can use to bring attention to your team and consequently, your cause of choice. A lot of people look at you funny when you say that you’re a part of a team that’s collectively running 200 miles. It’s an incredibly fun event for the runners but for those learning about it, they don’t forget what you’re doing. It’s an incredibly powerful vehicle for doing some good. It is epic and people can get behind epic.
So when you combine a group that’s pulling together for a great cause that tugs at the heartstrings with an event that most people consider absurd because of its degree of difficulty, what do you get? You get the ability not just participate in something physically epic but epically impactful considering the size of your group.
There are only 12 runners and a couple drivers, at most, that participate every year and a lot of those parts change from year to year. When you take that into account, it’s pretty amazing that in 4 years of doing this, we’ve now raised more than $18,000 for Fort Wayne area charities.
So why do we Ragnar for charity? It’s because it has been proven that the results will be as epic as the adventure of the race itself. If you have any questions about Ragnar, you can always visit www.runragnar.com OR reach out! I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Happy Friday everyone!