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Posted: November 13, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

(RWire) Athletics: Ragnar Relay Returns to Florida

"24-hour running party" for 201 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean

The Ragnar Relay Series presented by NordicTrack makes its grand return to Central Florida on November 20-21, 2009. After a wildly successful debut in Florida last year, Ragnar Relay is prepared to make this year's over 200-mile relay across the state bigger, bolder and better.

The Ragnar Relay Series has quite a reputation these days: In just five short years, the premiere long-distance relay series has grown to nearly twenty times its original size and continues grow and improve.

This year's Ragnar Relay Florida starts in Clearwater and leapfrogs down to Daytona Beach, where participants will cross the finish line 201 miles away from where they began.

It all started with an intense 175-mile relay race from Logan to Park City, Utah. The Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back began with only 22 teams and 260 participants in 2004. Last year, it drew 578 teams and this year on June 19 and 20, 733 teams competed. That's 8,796 runners - making it the second largest relay in the nation.

Why the impressive growth? "The word is out about the '24-hour running party,'" said race director Dan Hill. "Our participants are telling their friends about the vans they decorated and the costumes they wore and how they partied all night long. What that comes down to is teamwork, and for many, the very idea is irresistible."

Stretching the length of over seven marathons, the Ragnar Relay Florida traverses shoreline towns and horse country alike, taking participants from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Though the race is physically demanding, it allows for a wide range of participants, from serious athletes to casual recreational runners to walkers who enjoy the company of friends and the beauty of the outdoors.

Of course, it's a lot of ground to cover. Teams of 12 runners run each race day and night, competing for more than 24 straight hours. Each team member runs three legs that vary in length from three to eight miles per leg.

Former Novell software engineer Verdon Walker has run the race three times with the corporate team "2 Slow 2 Win 2 Dumb 2 Quit." Riding in vans with giant inflatable turtles on top, Walker and several other Novell teams are out to prove a point: "We've got runners from all ages and abilities, but this just brings everyone together," he said. "It doesn't matter what your abilities are. It's just a great team-building experience."

Of course, the race would not be nearly as successful without the efforts of the race's charity partner, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County, which is raising money through onsite and online donations for the charity. Hundreds of race volunteers also work day and night to make the race a raging success.

The starting gun will fire at Howard County Park in Clearwater, FL on Friday, November 20. For more information, go to: or the Ragnar Relay Series Facebook page.

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