Basking in the moonlight |

Basking in the moonlight

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Contributed photoRunners compete at the July Ragnar Relay Series race in Washington state.

Liz Connolly enjoys the cool, nighttime air and running under the stars.

Those are just a couple of the countless reasons the newish Glenwood Springs resident is drawn to relay races. And she’ll log plenty of miles under moonlit skies at the Sept. 7-8 Ragnar Relay Series stop in Colorado.

Connolly is captain of the Glenwood Gremlins, a 12-runner squad that will team up to tackle some 188 miles of Rocky Mountain terrain.

Armed with two vans and their running shoes, the Gremlins – and more than 170 other teams – will tackle an elevation gain-packed course comprised primarily of trails between Breckenridge and Snowmass. Much of the route runs parallel to Interstate 70 and Highway 82, so expect to see runners gliding through Glenwood Springs.

Connolly, who grew up in Colorado Springs and recently moved to Glenwood Springs from Salt Lake City, is a Ragnar Relay veteran.

“Some of us had run the relays in other states, and I love Colorado,” she said. “I thought it’d be great being able to see the beauty here that you can only see while running the race.”

And so she and a group of friends cobbled together a team.

“We’re networked through friends,” Connolly said. “Most of us know each other through church, but there are a lot of people not at the church doing it.”

Ragnar’s Colorado stop is one of 15 series events nationwide. The series, which got its start almost a decade ago in Utah, added Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to its race offerings this year by pairing with the longstanding Colorado Relay.

“We’re always opening up new markets,” said Rachel Petersen, race director for Ragnar’s Colorado and Arizona relays. “Colorado was our new market for 2012, so when we came into Colorado, we met the owners of the Colorado Relay and ended up working out a partnership. We’re taking their knowledge and our knowledge to put into the race.”

Petersen, who works in Utah and grew up in the Denver area, said she spent three days driving through Colorado in search of an optimal route.

“Being in the mountains, looking around, we decided there’s nothing better than Breckenridge to Aspen,” she said. “It all happened to work out, combining what the Colorado Relay built and what we wanted to do.”

Teams can compete as either six- and 12-member squads. Exchange points, and virtually all other race details, are determined by Ragnar. It’s up to the individual teams to find two vans to use and slot their runners into the appropriate relay legs, which vary in distance from 2.1 to 9.1 miles.

Runners on 12-person teams handle three legs apiece, meaning ample time for bonding while not hoofing your way along the trail.

“It’s just fun,” Connolly said. “The scenery is beautiful and I love running. It’s fun as well because you spend about 24 hours with your friends in a car. It may not sound fun, but it is. You eat, run and sleep.”

And, for Connolly, nothing beats running at night.

“It’s quieter and usually the stars are out,” she said. “It’s cool, so I’ve always loved the night runs.”

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