Once again, Newtown runners joined with others from neighboring towns to run the 200 mile Ragnar Relay Race. Leaving almost 100 children at home, the men and women headed for Cape Cod where they faced unusual challenges such as running on boardwalks, in the sand along the water, and on narrow trails. In four teams of 12, with 38 of them from Newtown, the runners raised $20,000 for the March of Dimes.
Scott Karnas, 38, talked about the things he loves most about this race. “I always find it amazing. We had 48 runners, all with different careers and backgrounds, and we all rally around to raise money for a common goal.”
Karnas has run other Ragnar Races, all of which are organized locally by Dana Roth, Newtown resident. This Ragnar Race attracted more than 360 teams from across the country.
“Each of the races have a different feel to it,” Karnas said. “In terms of physical endurance, it isn’t so much the running, it’s getting to your next runner on time for the relay. It’s the lack of sleep trying to coordinate your next exchange point that can be particularly challenging.”
Despite the challenges, Karnas said it is all worth it. “When you are out there, going through longer lags in middle of night, You see other people out there running and you just feel so alive.”
According to runner and writer Jennifer Labriola, the four teams featured local runners from ages 28 to 52. One of the teams, the Hard KORBELls, was the first female team to cross the finish line. The team was sponsored by Korbel Champagne. Other sponsored teams included the Merrell-icious, the RocketballZ and the Pirate Booty.
Labriola wrote, “To place first overall among all female teams is a huge accomplishment, as is surviving in a pair of vans for 24-hours,” Hard KORBELles team captain Diane Frazzetta said. “But the friendships that are formed and cemented through an event like the Ragnar Relay are the real prize. We had an absolute blast and can’t wait to bring the team back together for another one!”
The hilly route started in Plymouth, Ma, and ended in Provincetown, Cape Cod and took almost 24 hours to complete. As a relay race, some teams ran while others rested, or even slept. Because of the varying laps, runners of different abilities were able to participate.
“It was great as usual,” Chi Ryder, Newton, said. Ryder ran 22 miles in this race, and has run the four races over the last two years. “It was challenging, but we had great weather. It was definitely different than previous, flatter, runs. Each one offers its own adventure.”
Mandi Poseno, 41, said, “This was my favorite of the three (she has run). Cape Cod was a gorgeous course.”
Poseno said, “This takes an individual sport and turns it into a team sport. It is a unique experience to race overnight with a group of people. All the teams really support each other and it’s great to support the cause.”
The cause was the March of Dimes, chosen for it’s efforts to support underweight and pre-mature babies. Roth, organizer of the local teams, selected the March of Dimes because the organization has directly benefitted her own family.
“My daughter was born two and a half months early. She was only two and half pounds when she was born, and only weighed four pounds when she came home. She is now a healthy third grader at Head of Meadow, and to date there is no indication she was premature,” Roth said, adding that her son also needed care when he was born. “His lungs weren’t fully functioning and he was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Both of my children received medication that allowed their lungs to develop. My children are healthy today because of the research conducted by the March of Dimes.”
“It is always a nice thing to raise money for charity, especially one that effects the children's lives,” Ryder said. “But the camaraderie, being with other people who have a passion for running, time spent in an intimate way, you know, bonding with a lot of women in a van, it was a great experience.”