Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members, employees and family members participated in the 2010 Ragnar Relay Del Sol February 26 and 27. The 200-mile race started in Prescott and ended at Tempe Marketplace.
A group of 12 friends from the Community formed a team called A Bad Case of the Runs with six men and six women (see sidebar). The team was responsible for providing two vehicles with six runners inside each. Here’s how it works: The first runner is dropped off at the starting line (or at the point along the course where that runner is to begin racing) and the team drives a few miles ahead to cheer the runner on and provide water, snacks and encouragement along the way. At the end of the leg, the vehicle drives to the exchange point to drop off the second runner and pick up the first. This pattern is repeated for six legs until the team’s first vehicle hands off to the second vehicle, and the other six runners run their legs. This leapfrogging pattern continues all day and all night, all the way to the finish line.
“The Ragnar experience was awesome,” said Beverly Kahe. “We had a great team; everyone was upbeat and excited about the relay. This kind of excitement is felt throughout the whole race—not just within our team, but from the hundreds of other teams there.”
Kahe said that the Relay Del Sol was the first Ragnar race for several people on the team, including her. Last year she was a spectator, and after watching the runners she knew she wanted to do it this year. Kahe acted as captain and Jason Seepie as co-captain. Together, they recruited 10 other runners, who weren’t difficult to find—everyone they talked to was interested in the relay.
“As a team, we organized group runs and kept in contact with one another,” said Kahe. “Everyone contributed to registration fees, food, gas, vehicles, equipment, getting volunteers and, most importantly, supporting one another.
“Although we didn’t get much sleep and had to run in the middle of the night, it was one of the greatest running experiences I’ve had,” Kahe continued. “It was so fun, and I think everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. I’m already looking forward to next year’s race and have some ideas to improve. I hope to recruit more runners and perhaps even get a second team together.”
With the exception of Community member Rachel Seepie and 17-year-old Michael Morgan, son of Community employee Mercedes Morgan, A Bad Case of the Runs consisted of employees from the Community’s administrative and education departments.
In the end, the women ran three legs of the race and the men ran two, due to an accident on State Route 74 near Lake Pleasant in which a spectator was hit by a vehicle. Several legs of the race were skipped as a result. “Because of the accident, the runners in the second van were only able to run two out of their three legs,” said Myk Redhouse. “I ran about 10.5 miles total; it was fun and always a blast. This was my second Ragnar. The first one I did started in Wickenburg and ended at Mesa Riverview.”
Many of the participants traveled from other states and as far away as Canada to participate.
“What I enjoyed about doing the Ragnar Relay was that it was wonderful time to spend with some old and new friends,” said Seepie, “and to see all teams who participated cheering each other on and having a great time.” Originally assigned to be a van driver, Seepie was recruited as a runner when another participant dropped out. This was her first Ragnar Relay race. She was runner No. 4 in the women’s group; her first leg was 5 miles, her second leg 4.7 miles and her third leg 3 miles.
“I found running my first leg outside of Prescott a challenge due to the altitude and hills,” Seepie said. “But it was a calming and beautiful route. My second leg was a night run, at around 1 a.m., into Wickenburg. That part was cold and I was a little scared, but I kept myself positive and listened to one of my favorite running songs (“Meet Me Halfway” by the Black Eyed Peas) over and over to get me to the exchange. My final leg started in Lehi on McDowell Road; by that time I was so happy that I was finally done with my part of the relay.”
“It was very fun,” said Amber Manuelito. “This was my second time participating in the Ragnar Relay Race. It was all exciting, except for the loss from the accident, which shortened the race. We all took precautions when we ran, but it was mostly safe during all our runs,” she said.
Manuelito ran at night, and she said the biggest challenge was keeping warm. She ran the first leg of the race, running 6 miles, which she really enjoyed. “I saw a part of the state I had never seen before,” she said.
Manuelito’s next leg was the following morning, and again it was cold. “That was a cold and hard 3 miles,” she said. “At one point we had to find a parking lot and crash there until our runner came in and it was one of our turns to run.”
It was a learning experience for Manuelito, both running and learning from her teammates who were all traveling together. For the last leg of the relay, she got to run to the finish line.
“At the end, the whole team met up at Tempe Marketplace to meet our teammate Amber and finish the race together as a team; that was such a wonderful, joyous feeling,” said Seepie.
About the Ragnar Relay
In the Ragnar Relay, teams of 12 run 24 hours a day, nonstop, through towns, mountains and hills. Team members can be elite runners or beginners. Each team member runs three legs of the relay, and each leg can be 3 to 8 miles long over different kinds of terrain.
The Ragnar Relay Race began as the dream of Steve Hill, who tossed around an idea in the 1980s to stage a grand relay race in Utah. It would not come to fruition until 2004, when the first 170-mile Ragnar Relay Race took place. Now, it is recognized as one of the largest relay races in the nation. The series includes the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back (Utah), Ragnar Relay Great River (Minnesota/Wisconsin), Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage (Washington State) and the Ragnar Relay Del Sol (Arizona).
Team Members: A Bad Case of the Runs