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Relay series eyes Aspen-to-Breck run

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
ragnarrelay.comRagnar Relay Colorado, a planned relay race, would take runners from Aspen to Breckenridge in July.
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ASPEN – A relay race series that holds events around the country has set its sights on Colorado this summer, with a 187.5-mile run from Aspen to Breckenridge in July. Organizers anticipate it will become an annual event.

The Ragnar Relay Series is seeking special event approvals in Aspen and Pitkin County for the start of the race and is working with other jurisdictions all along the race route. The 36-leg relay would begin in Aspen, with the first six legs taking place within Pitkin County. From the county line, participants would continue down the Roaring Fork Valley to Glenwood Springs and then head east on the Glenwood Canyon bike trail en route to Vail and Breckenridge.

Ragnar anticipates 250 to 300 teams of 12 runners each – some 3,000 people in all – taking part in Ragnar Relay Colorado on July 27 and 28.

The event is the first Ragnar race in Colorado, according to Ragnar Relay CEO Chris Infurchia, who doesn’t expect a shortage of willing participants.

“I think there will be plenty of people in Colorado who will be ready and willing to jump on this,” he said. In addition, the Colorado scenery and the challenge of the run up and over Vail Pass, where a bike path parallels Interstate 70 through the mountains, is likely to draw Ragnar fans from around the country, Infurchia said.

Event organizers met with representatives from various Aspen and Pitkin County agencies on Tuesday. Few concerns were raised as officials went over the detailed event application, according to City Clerk Kathryn Koch.

Runners in the first leg of the race would depart from the Aspen Recreation Center on July 27 for a 2.4-mile run to Rio Grande Park. Staggered starts mean 250 to 300 runners won’t all leave the rec center at once. Rather, participants would leave the rec center over a nine-hour period, so the group of 250 to 300 runners is spread out over 30 to 40 miles during the course of the day, according to the event application.

The bike/pedestrian trail along Maroon Creek Road, the Hopkins Avenue bike/pedestrian path and Mill Street would take runners to the park for the first exchange, when the next runner takes over. A metal “slap bracelet” rather than a baton changes hands with each exchange.

Leg 2 would take runners down the Rio Grande Trail to Wilton Jaffee Park near Woody Creek and onto the Aspen Mass Trail for the second exchange point, at the Brush Creek intercept lot. Leg 3 takes participants back down the Aspen Mass Trail to the Rio Grande, and the route continues down the valley, leaving Pitkin County after the sixth exchange point at Basalt High School, according to the plan.

“They’ll basically be in and out by Friday night,” said John Armstrong, open space and trails ranger for Pitkin County.

During the race, each team member runs three legs. Each leg typically ranges between three and eight miles and varies in difficulty, according to Ragnar. Each team is responsible for providing two support vehicles, with six runners per vehicle. Runners finishing each leg are picked up by a vehicle, and the next runner is dropped off. The leapfrogging continues all the way to the finish.

“What’s really neat about it is a novice runner can run with an elite runner,” Infurchia said. A team can include inexperienced members who take on the easier legs, while advanced runners tackle the challenging segments – Vail Pass, for example.

The relay continues through the night. Runners starting legs after 7 p.m. and before 6 a.m. must wear reflective vests and rear-mounted lights and hold flashlights or wear headlamps, according to Ragnar.

The registration fee is $1,200 per team, the event application indicates.

Ragnar Events LLC presented its first event, the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back, in Utah in 2004. That route, from Logan to Park City, is the organization’s biggest event and takes place annually, as do most of the relays Ragnar establishes.

“Once we put a race on the map, we tend to keep it,” Infurchia said.

Ragnar has presented 21 events in 10 states, its application states. This year’s events will attract some 75,000 participants, according to Infurchia.

Ragnar’s website lists a number of planned events this year. Next up is the Relay Del Sol from Wickenburg, Ariz., to Tempe, Ariz., on Feb. 24 and 25.

More information is available at http://www.ragnarrelay.com.

janet@aspentimes.com


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