Where in the World is Ragnar?

Where in the World is Ragnar?
By Robin Arzón

Robin Ragnar BLN 3

Most travelers who are also runners know that lacing up is the best way to absorb a new  place.  There is something about exploring a city on foot that allows you to revel in it.  You might notice a facade, a
painting, a quaint shop, an alley, or a stoop that you would otherwise whiz by in a car or on a bike.  In the countryside, on trails, your feet unearth the scents of fresh air, foliage, flowers, and greenery. Your quads power up hills and over tree trunks.  Running gives us a pause button to take visual snapshots of the journey.

As I run my way through Europe in the coming weeks, this is the type of exploration that is driving me.  I write from Berlin, Germany, where I came with the NYC Bridge Runners to run the Berlin Half Marathon. Running Berlin was much more than 13.1 miles.  We traveled to meet our brother and sister crews from other countries – London’s Run Dem Crew, Berlin’s Graviteam, Paris Run Club, Copenhagen’s NBRO,
Zurich’s RC8K, Hong Kong Harbor Runners – who also converged on Berlin for the race.

Witnessing the expansiveness of running tribes on an international scale was just as exciting as observing hundreds of Ragnar teams during my first relay.  Much like the Ragnar camaraderie, each group had it’s own style and flavor.  It was inspiring to re-confirm that running bonds those from even the most distinct backgrounds.  At the end of the day, it’s about committing to cross the finish line with
the collective energy of a team supporting you.

Exploring Berlin with my new international running family made me even more excited to run Cape Cod in May.  The anticipation of the raw excitement and creativity that is unique to Ragnar is building.  Now
imagine doing this with 11 teammates as part of an International Ragnar Relay?  If our teams can traverse Southern California and the Florida Keys, we can race from Berlin to Prague, or Madrid to Valencia. An international Ragnar Race would give U.S. Ragnar teams a chance to explore on foot while simultaneously encouraging international running crews to find their Ragnar.

The drumbeat of a 24-hour running party in Cape Cod on May 11 will bring me home to the United States. Will I see you there?

Robin Arzón is a fitness writer living in New York City.  She is the
voice behind SHUTUPANDRUN, a site for people who sweat with swagger.
Robin is training for Ragnar Cape Cod and a 50-mile ultra marathon.
Her motto is “Run Hard.  Play Harder.”  Follow Robin’s travels through
Europe at shutupandrun.tumblr.com and on Twitter @RobinNYC.

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Captain’s Corner: Team Biofuel

We’ve asked a few of our captains to share their advice on recruiting, creating, organizing and leading a Ragnar Relay team. This week, Bob Hofeldt, founder of Team Biofuel, talks about why he became a captain and how he recruited friends. 

Why did I become a captain? I became a captain out of necessity. I didn’t know anyone that participated in overnight races, relays, adventure races, etc. and I wasn’t invited to be on a team.  So, I started my own team and invited people I knew.  And it failed.  I thought that more people would jump at the chance to run an overnight relay.  I attempted a SECOND time with another overnight relay; I didn’t reserve the vans in a timely manner, and when none were available, it failed again.  The following year, I decided that the only way it would succeed is if I MAKE IT SUCCEED.  I have learned that teams don’t ‘come together’ organically – they are forced together.  The vans, start line hotels, finish line hotels, expenses, teammates and general responsibility all need to be monitored to INSURE they are copacetic. This is not my personality, AT ALL.  This is project management, and this was the most difficult thing for me.

How did I find team members?  This may be the most important part (of my story) for many people to read.  Again, I failed more often than I succeeded.  The THIRD attempt consisted of myself, my awesome wife, a close friend that loves adventure and a bunch of “strangers I met on the Internet”.  If you find that you are the person at parties who tells the exciting stories, you probably will need to look beyond your group of friends to find Ragnar-type people to fill your team.  My teams are always full of people who need to be picked up at the airport before races; I call them “The 1%”.  These are the people that reach past their zone of comfort to the outer limits of conceivable for an experience that everyone wants to hear, but few believe they have it in them.  

Was the first team successful? The first team was successful because we made it to the finish as a team, but out of the 70 new friends I made on Facebook while recruiting to fill my spots, I managed to find just seven ‘strangers’ that believed in me and our team had only 10 runners of the 12 running slots I was trying to fill.  But, they were a great group, and ALL of them have run Ragnar Relays with Team BoiFuel again and again, ever since.

Stay tuned for more advice and stories from Bob and other captains. 

TheBob Hofeldt (A.K.A. Stew Pedascho) is the founder of Team BioFuel, an incredible group of athletes that have come together to compete with the philosophy that “You don’t need to have a fast time, you just need to have a good time.” Team BioFuel has grown to over 100 members and has participated in dozens of races as a team since Stew captained it’s first Ragnar Relay in 2010, the New England Ragnar Relay.   



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