Aspiring Navy SEAL Dominic Grossman craves challenge. He wants to run a 188-mile relay race, alone, to test himself, “push past mental barriers,” and to honor his father, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
“Though some people think I must be trying to kill myself, I believe the opposite: I'm trying to live life to its fullest.”
Grossman is just one of 1,260 people on 105 teams – of up to 12 people – running in the 188-mile Los Angeles stop in the Ragnar Relay race series. Participants start in Santa Barbara’s American Riviera on April 24 and race all day and night, arriving at Dana Point 20 to 30 hours later.
With over 1,000 participants and 315 volunteers, the L.A. race is slated to be 2nd largest inaugural relay in history behind the inaugural Ragnar Relay Washington D.C. Between April 2009 and February 2010, the company expects a total of 30,000 to participate in the series that includes races in L.A., New York, Las Vegas and Washington D.C.
While Dominic Grossman toils alone along the Pacific coast on his solo venture, other teams will have members running their first ever races, five miles at a time, while feeling Malibu’s ocean spray on their faces and listening to the sounds of Huntington Beach’s swells.
he thousands of beginners and veterans, running solo or in teams, will race through the night, with support vans close by, raising money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Greater Los Angeles Area and testing their limits of personal challenge and fun.
“Anyone can do these races,” says Tanner Bell, Ragnar Events LLC, founder and senior VP of sales and marketing. “In fact, why shouldn’t everyone? I see the change and the impact we make in people’s lives. For many, Ragnar is their first running experience. And, for many, Ragnar serves as a bridge into a healthy active lifestyle.”
Bell encourages newcomers to sign up for the Ragnar Relay training program, which has runners starting with just 15 minutes a day three days a week. During the race, each participant averages about three legs of five miles each, with six to eight hours of rest in between, completing at least one leg at night with a flashlight, headlamp, and reflective vest. It’s a unique run, Bell says, often surreal.
“Sure the run is important,” Bell adds. “But only 10 percent of the people are out to place first, second or third. The other 90 percent are out there to party with friends, meet new people, and accomplish something together that they never could have done on their own. … We basically are putting on 200-mile parties.”
New this year, the L.A. relay joins a roster of the nation’s largest – and fastest growing – series of relay races. The 30,000 expected participants this season will race hundreds of miles in Utah, Arizona, Minnesota, Washington State, Washington D.C., Florida, Los Angeles, New York, Connecticut, Boston and Las Vegas.
Bell wouldn’t be surprised if the L.A. event featured teams in disco costumes, serious running gear and funny hats. He says it’s a time to “let loose, push yourself and show yourself what you can do.”
Women from Moms in Motion, a national group, look forward to strutting their stuff.
“We have a team of 12 super, wonderful, courageous women/mothers seeking the adventure of a life-time,” says mom Holly Russ of San Fernando Valley. “We come in all shapes and sizes: petite, tall, blond, brunette, single, married, fast, steady, vegetarian, carnivorous, loud, serene, you name it.”