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Hastings women to run 202.1 miles in Ragnar Relay

Some of the team at a training practice Tuesday night are pictured from left to right: Tracy Yoder, Hastings; Christine Hitchcock, Hastings; Jen Gelhar, Hastings; Katie Engrav, Hastings; Lynette Schmaltz, Hastings; Kelly Danielson, Hastings; Kari Wartner, Cottage Grove. Submitted photo

A group of Hastings women will be running from Winona to Minneapolis–a total of 202.1 miles–on Aug. 12-13 as part of the Ragnar Relay Series. The race will begin on the bank of the Mississippi River in Winona and end at the East River Flats in Minneapolis.

According to their website, Ragnar is a long distance, team-oriented, overnight running relay. Teams of 12 runners conquer the 200-ish miles of sidewalks, back roads, bike paths and road shoulders to get from start to finish.

The local Moms on the Run fitness group has two teams participating in this year’s race. One will compete as the 12-member relay team, the other will participate in the Ultra–a 6 person team.

Tracy Yoder, the Hastings Mom on the Run franchise owner, is participating in the Ultra this year. She has done the 12-member team relay in the past.

“The next new challenge would be ‘Okay let’s see if we can do it with six people,’” she said.

One of the most challenging things about running Ragnar is the mental side of it, she said. With it being an overnight race, the runners don’t get a lot of sleep or rest. The race is split up into intervals and each runner has more than one interval of running which doesn’t leave a lot of time for recovery, eating or rest.

“That’s what makes this event so difficult,” she said, “is that recovery and can you get your body through it.”

Yoder said one thing she is particularly concerned about is the heat. “That’s an element you can’t control,” she said.

At last year’s race, Yoder said the heat was so bad that ambulances were already taking runners to the local hospitals before she even began the race.

Deb Lyness, who ran Ragnar with the group last year, remembers how challenging the heat made the run too. She said she hadn’t anticipated that going into it. This year, she chose to volunteer as a driver for the team rather than participate.

“It was something I was really proud of doing, but decided I don’t have to do that again,” she said.

Instead, she is looking forward to supporting the women who are participating. As a personal trainer, she said it is fun for her to see people challenge their bodies.

“I think everybody should try it, who is a runner ... interested in trying to see what their body can do, I think it is a great thing,” Lyness said. “I just don’t want to do it again,” she added with a laugh.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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