Nearly 3,000 runners are expected to participate in the Ragnar Relay Adirondacks race that starts in Saratoga Spa State Park on Friday and ends near Lake Placid on Saturday.
Competitors, grouped in teams of 12 people who run various legs of the race, will run around Saratoga Lake, through parts of Malta and Ballston Spa, then through Saratoga Springs and up through the North County to Lake Placid.
The participants, more than half of them women, come from 37 states and four provinces in Canada, according to race officials. In the past this relay race had been staged in the Hudson River Valley region, ending in Dobbs Ferry.
“We changed it this year,” said Courtney Mitchell, race director for the Adirondack relay.
“We evaluate the races every year and found we were missing an opportunity to route a race in a beautiful course in the Adirondacks,” Mitchell said.
The runners will cover just over 192 miles in the two days. Each participant will run a leg, rest in a team van, and then run another leg.
“It’s two days without a shower sleeping in a van,” said Matt Braun, a spokesman for Ragnar. The 12-member teams, which each have two vans, become close during the competition and often cross the finish line together, ready to celebrate their efforts.
Ragnar Events LLC is a for-profit corporation based in Utah that conducts the largest, overnight running relay series in the United States. This year, 15 of the Ragnar Relay Series races, which are presented by Nordic Track, will be conducted in various parts of the country.
The nonprofit organization selected to help stage the relay race and benefit from its proceeds is the Adirondack Mountain Club, which is providing volunteers, said race director Mitchell.
A total of 254 teams, mostly of 12 people each but some with six, have registered. The registration fee is $1,200 for each team, which ended on Aug. 15.
One team member starts the race with designated exchange points along the way. One team member hands the other team member a snap-on bracelet as they run various legs. The runners cover, on average, between three and eight miles on the individual legs. Each of the team members runs three times. A team always has a runner on the road, right through the night.
The Ragnar race coordinators provide sleeping and resting areas at major hand-off points. These rest areas include two schools, one park, one beach and one fairground.
Mitchell said Ragnar was a Norse king who was an adventurer. She said those participating in the race need to be an “adventurous person.”
“They connect in memorable relationships, conquer a challenge that could not be done alone, and celebrate with medals and finish line festivities,” says a Ragnar statement.
“Often called a slumber party without sleep, pillows or deodorant, this unique relay turns out crazy costumes, inside jokes, close quarters and unforgettable stories,” the statement says. The series began as a single race from Logan to Park City, Utah, in 2004 planned by college roommates, Dan Hill and Tanner Bell. The series has grown with more than 160,000 people having run in the Ragnar Relay Series.
For more information and the Adirondack Relay route, see: www.ragnarrelay.com.