A band of 12 townspeople, 11 of them members of the Expedition Church, are determined to enjoy a weekend of fun while challenging themselves in a spirit of small-town camaraderie.
The spirited group has the opportunity to attain their goals today, Feb. 25, and tomorrow during the Ragnar Relay jaunt from Wickenburg to Tempe.
It’s not the first time an Expedition team has competed — last year a team was entered but with some different members than the 2011 team.
The event is a 197-mile running relay that takes the members, day and night, through the beautiful Arizona desert. Members must run around the clock making their way south from Wickenburg to Tempe.
For the event, only one team member will run at a time and members who are not running will be shuttled back and forth in two vans. Ragnar officials anticipate the average pace should be about 11-minute miles because most teams include elite runners as well as novices.
Here’s how the relay works as explained by some who competed last year.
“Teammates who are not running are on support duty in one of the two race vehicles.
“Runners 1 through 6 should be in van one and 7 through 12 in van two.
“Van one’s runners cover the first six legs.
“It’s a relay, so as the each runner begins, the crew in the van can drive ahead, cheer their runner on, and meet them at the exchange point to pick them up and drop off the next runner.
“After the first six legs, van two picks up the slack and starts putting in the miles. A day, night and day later, runners have made it all the way from start to finish.”
Some of last year’s Expedition team members point to sleep deprivation being as big a challenge as running.
The 12 runners must finish three legs each of varying distances from 3.5 to 9.2 miles. The pace recommended by Ragnar officials include easy, moderate and hard depending on the length of the leg. The runner assigned leg three must complete the longest distance — 21 miles.
The leg eight runner has only to complete 11.6 miles.
Although the Payson team hasn’t assigned running legs as of yet, the logical choice for leg three might by Carolyn Fruth, a veteran runner who has competed in the famous Boston Marathon and an Ironman Triathlon.
Other team members include Tim Fruth, who friends say should be a candidate for the shortest leg, Kenny Boyes, Cindy Boyes, Jake Sopeland, Casey Barnett, Mary Rose, Donovan Christian, Shelly Christian, Ashli Brownlee, Mike Stoll and Jimmy Oestmann.