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Running through the mountains

By Fritz Mayer
February 17, 2011

Does running 200 miles over the course of a couple of days sound like fun? What if you do it with 11 friends? For those who love to run, team relay running is an activity that has apparently been growing rapidly over the past six years.

A company called Ragnar Relay Series organizes races throughout the United States that cover about 180 to 200 miles. The courses are run by relay teams of up to 12 runners who, when they aren’t running, ride the course in one of two vans, participating in the activity in various ways. The running duty is handed from one person to the next as in most relays.

Ragnar, which bills itself as “the nation’s top provider of overnight-relay races,” says there are large and growing numbers of runners who enjoy these overnight jaunts with likeminded running enthusiasts. According to the organization’s website, www.ragnarrelay.com, since the founding of the company in 2004, “Ragnar races have grown from 200 participants to more than 40,000 in 2010, with nearly 70,000 projected for 2011.”

And some of those participants will be pounding the pavement on the highways and byways of Sullivan County.

At a Bethel town meeting on February 10, supervisor Dan Sturm read a letter from Ragnar announcing that there will be a 200-mile run in New York this year beginning at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. The runners will head through Orange County, cross the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, and head south to Dobbs Ferry where the journey will end. The run is scheduled for May 13 and 14.

The course, which is mapped out on the company’s website, is broken up into legs of varying length and difficulty to allow for the participation of runners at all levels of skill and training. The cost to register a team runs from $1,040 to $1,440, depending on how early a registration is submitted.
Glen Goldstein, a resident of Narrowsburg, was in the audience and said he works with Ragnar and offered to help with any questions that the town board might have.

Kim Klemen, president of the Sullivan Striders Walking and Running Club, said she was familiar with the run and endorsed it, saying the relay could bring 5,000 people into the area.
Tracy Chirico, the manager of Bethel Motor Speedway, said the speedway had offered to be used as the first exchange spot for the runners.

Alan Scott, CEO of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, requested that the town board pass a resolution in support of the event, and the board did so unanimously.