Runners will take to the woods around Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort this summer for the world's first trail relay series.
The overnight Ragnar Trail Relays presented by Salomon will pit eight- and four-person teams against one another as contestants charge around three loops that range from four to eight miles long. Runners run one loop before handing off to the next teammate and progressing on to the next circuit.
"We're extremely excited to partner with these relays. It's a great way to keep the resort relevant in the summer," Sierra-at-Tahoe Communications Manager Steven Hemphill said.
The Ragnar Trail Relays come on the heels of two other running events set to take place at the resort this summer. The Huckleberry Hustle, a 10 kilometer race hosted by the Tahoe Tri Club, will return on June 15. The grueling obstacle course, Sierra Recon, will come back for the second year in a row June 22.
"We started last summer doing some summer events, and (Ragnar) had a really good reputation. It's going to be really fun," Sierra-at-Tahoe Director of Skier Services Sean Sweeney said.
The Ragnar relays are the brainchild of a company known not for its trail events but for its road relays. Tanner Bell, co-founder of Ragnar Events, LLC., launched the group almost 10 years ago because he liked the idea of turning running into a team sport.
"It's not just about the running. It's about the people you meet. You become best friends with them. If people haven't ever run a trail before, that shouldn't keep them from doing this event," Bell said.
Bell and his team hit the asphalt at a sprint in 2004, and Ragnar now boasts 21 road races in North America and thousands of loyal "ragnarians" who have competed in the 200-mile challenge.
Bell and his colleagues began talking about a trail relay series about three years ago. They not only wanted to help people get into the growing sport of trail running, they wanted to give novice and experienced runners a race to remember.
Enter Tahoe. Bell had run and skied in the area before, and he knew the area would fit well with Ragnar's goals.
"We said this format is cool, but our goal is to put on the most epic relay races in the nation. When we decided to do the trail running, we said the only way we could do it was race at the best locations. With that strategy, Tahoe was a clear fit," Bell said.
To help beginners develop the confidence and the fitness to race the relay, Ragnar partnered with Salomon to create a training regimen. Representatives of the gear company will hold bi-monthly runs at each of the relays' venues to help participants prepare for the event. The company posted training articles and a training schedule at http://tinyurl.com/bjd7xvq.
In addition to Sierra-at-Tahoe, the trail relays will take place at Utah's Zion National Park, McDowell Mountain in Arizona, Big Bear Lake in West Virginia and California's Vail Lake Resort.