Ragnar Relay Del Sol Endurance Race Draws Rim Runners

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What do “Full Frontal Nerdity,” “Let’s Get Physical,” “Doin’ It All Night Long,” “RU Nuts” and “Wanna Be Slapped” have in common?

All were among the 306 teams that participated in the Ragnar Relay del Sol cross-country race contested Feb. 25 and Feb. 26.

The 200-mile endurance race began in Wickenburg and passed through Superior, Fountain Hills and Scottsdale before wrapping up in Tempe.

Each team in the race was composed of 12 runners who ran around the clock in legs varying from 3.5 to 9.2 miles.

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Photo courtesy of Donovan Christian

Former Payson High School assistant principal Tim Fruth — now assistant principal at Alchesay High School in Whiteriver — decided to try his skill at running, by taking part in the 2011 Ragnar Relay del Sol, a 200-mile endurance race from Wickenburg to Tempe. Fruth competed with Payson’s Expedition Church team, which has taken part in the race in both 2009 and 2010. There were a total of 306 teams in the race, each with 12 runners.

Ragnar officials asked runners to average at least 11-minute miles.

Payson entered two teams in the relay — Mile High Running Club and Expedition Church.

Mile High covered the distance 28:57.44 and finished 87th overall and 30th in the “Open Mixed Regular” division.

Expedition was clocked in 30:02.46 and was 133rd overall and 56th in the same division.

For some runners, including former town councilor Tim Fruth, the relay was a first attempt at the Ragnar.

After completing the grueling event, Fruth believes he now knows what it takes to successfully finish. “Keys to success are coffee, water and years of experience in staying out all night.”

However, at the halfway point in the race, Fruth — who was the oldest runner on the Expedition team — was obviously suffering from system overload. “We were wired with caffeine, little sleep and the fumes from our unclean bodies had affected our minds.”

Also on the long journey, there was a bizarre occurrence that had Discovery teammates questioning Fruth’s mental competency

It unfolded late at night, just as Casey Barnett was about to complete a relay exchange with Ashli Brownlee.

“I believe I saw some strange character chasing after him in a European-style swimming suit,” Fruth said. “I couldn’t have imagined that, but being sleep deprived, anything was possible.”

While the event was a test of guts and glory, a redeeming factor was that Fruth found a sidekick along the way.

“I really didn’t know (teammate) Mike Stoll, but I have made a friend for life,” Fruth said. “I wouldn’t trade those 30-plus hours (of the race) for anything.”

What is Ragnar?

Ragnar events, which have a reputation as being the nation’s premier overnight running relay races, are held around the country. Last year, 12 events were held.

The races are growing in leaps and bounds, especially the Arizona event that jumped almost 100 percent in growth from 2009 to 2011.

Founded in 2004, the original race drew 100 runners. In 2010, more than 40,000 participated.

What is unique about Ragnar, runners say, is that each leg varies in difficulty and distance, enabling elite and novice runners to run together in teams.

Ragnar takes its named from a Norse King who marauded the countryside in the 9th century exploring and conquering new lands.

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