Ragnar Relay Series Hits The Trails In California

Organizers are expecting around 250-400 teams for each race.

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Organizers are expecting around 250-400 teams for each race.

Ragnar Events, the company that puts on the biggest overnight road relay series in the U.S., announced in February that it would be venturing into rockier territory — trails — and that California would host two of its 2013 venues.

The trail series, which has announced six 120-mile overnight relay events in 2013, including one in Lake Tahoe in July and one in Temecula in November, has been a long time coming, as it’s something that Ragnar cofounder Tanner Bell has been mulling over for some time.

“The idea has been around for a couple of years,” Bell says. “We started working on it a little over a year ago and it just came together.”

When the series was first announced, California was the only state to see two locations, and part of the reason for this is the state’s large endurance communities.

“The endurance markets in northern and southern California are incredible,” Bell said.

But California also has beautiful trails, and Bell maintains that when the Utah-based Ragnar corporate team first began the process of searching for venues, they wanted to find the most scenic locations possible that also allowed for challenging courses.

“We have handpicked these courses based on the types of runs we prefer: runs that are challenging, exciting and scenic for people,” Bell says.

While the runs are challenging, runners of pretty much any skill level should be able to complete them, as long as they train for the distance.

“We wanted to find locations that are challenging yet accessible for all skill levels,” Bell adds.

For those unfamiliar with Ragnar, the overnight road relays are point-to-point races where teams of 12 or six complete a 200-mile course thanks to the logistical help of two vans. These relays have grown in popularity because they provide team members with a unique bonding experience — and it gives them an excuse to let loose, party, wear costumes and partake in inside jokes.

The Ragnar trail series is similar, but instead of running point to point, teams of eight or four run 120 miles via a series of three loops that all begin at the Ragnar Village, which offers runners music, food, bonfires or other heating sources, and the opportunity to bond with teams other than their own.

“If I were to give you a tagline, the Ragnar road relay races are akin to a road trip with a running race involved, and the Ragnar trail relay races will be like a camping trip with trail running involved,” says Steven Aderholt, Ragnar’s director of trails.

Each trail series event, which costs an average of $1,040 per eight-person team to enter, is also smaller than a road event, with Bell estimating that each trail event will average anywhere from 250 to 400 teams as opposed to 500 or 1,000 teams.

Based on early interest, Bell believes that most of the Ragnar trail series events will sell out, so if you’re thinking about joining in, think quickly.

If you’re confused about how to prepare for such a relay, Ragnar’s trail website,, offers advice on logistics and training, and if you can’t make the California venues, the Ragnar Trail Series also kicks off in Utah, West Virginia and Arizona this year.