Ragnar kicks off Snowmassive summer | AspenTimes.com

Ragnar kicks off Snowmassive summer

Jill Beathard | Snowmass Sun
Runners in the Ragnar trail relay cross the finish line last year at Town Park in Snowmass Village.
Fred Carson / Courtesy photo |

The Ragnar trail relay race returns this weekend, bringing with it the start of Snowmass Village’s summer events season.

A team event, Ragnar’s course has three different loops of varying difficulty — the Grouse Trail, Highline and Lowline trails, and 6.7 miles of the Rim Trail. Teams have eight or, for a greater challenge, four members, and each individual takes their turn doing a lap on each loop.

“It turns running into a team sport, which is really unique,” said Stephne Hanscom, Ragnar market development manager.

Ragnar events mean pulling all-nighters for racers, as the event starts during the day on June 5, and most runners finish the afternoon of June 6. Running on trails at night can be particularly challenging, Hanscom noted.

“It’s really a unique experience I think to be out on those trails in the middle of the night,” she added.

The trail-running event is a little different from another also hosted by the company, the Ragnar Relay Colorado, a point-to-point race that will end in Snowmass on a later weekend this summer. The circuit format of the trail event is part of what makes it unique, Hanscom said.

“Everyone camps, and we have bonfires and movies and music and all kinds of things going on in what we call Ragnar Village, where everyone is stationed,” she said. “It’s fun because you can bring your family and you can have people there that aren’t participating in the event be part of the atmosphere.”

Now in its second year, the Ragnar trail race is also the first event in what Snowmass Tourism is billing as the Snowmassive Summer. A continuation of a new approach to summer tourism that the department started last year, at least one event is planned for almost every weekend this season in Snowmass.

In the past, restaurants and shops have held off opening for the summer due to low numbers of guests early in the season. But events such as Ragnar bring in people, and this year 18 Snowmass Village restaurants will be open this weekend, a slight increase from last year.

“I think that last year, … restaurants and retail outlets saw there was a lot of business to be had,” said Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism.

Abello said she hopes businesses are rewarded for opening early, but she added that more venues open also improves guests’ overall experience. One of Snowmass Tourism’s goals with events is to make guests want to return for another trip.

The Snowmass Village Shuttle also ramps up its summer service this weekend. Route 8 starts back up with half-hour stops, and Route 3 runs later, until 9:50 p.m., said Travis Elliot, assistant to the town manager.

The Ragnar trail relay will be followed immediately by a conference of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, a worldwide organization of tour operators, tourism boards, specialty agents and accommodations, on June 7 and 8. Snowmass Mammoth Fest, a three-day festival of chili, brews and music, is the following weekend.