YARMOUTH, MA – The 200-mile Ragnar Relay Race, one of Cape Cod’s most challenging and spectacular athletic events, is unveiling some exciting changes this year, including new course sections and an oceanfront finish line at Smuggler’s Beach in South Yarmouth.
The Yarmouth finish line for the 2019 Reebok Ragnar Cape Cod Relay Race will mean easier parking and hotel access for an estimated 4,500 runners, along with entertainment and post-race activities, organizers explained. Details for the May 10-11 race are still being finalized, but plans include a barbecue, music from a DJ, and free trolleys to shuttle tired runners from their beachside hotels to restaurants and other destinations around Yarmouth.
Changing the finish line to Smuggler’s Beach is a move that race organizers have been seeking for years, said Ragnar Race Director Amber Sadlier, noting the convenience of the beachfront hotels, large parking lots, open space, and of course the beautiful views at one of the Cape’s most popular beaches. Smuggler’s Beach is also located in the heart of Yarmouth’s business area, allowing runners to take advantage of nearby restaurants, pubs, and other attractions, Sadlier said.
“We feel really fortunate to be able to have so many beach exchanges and beach areas along the course,” said Sadlier, adding, “We’re super fortunate that we were able to end at Smuggler’s Beach.”
The location allows runners to experience the community of Yarmouth, which is an important consideration in all of the Ragnar Relay series, she said. And it introduces participants to some of the beautiful areas along Cape Cod’s central southern coastline, which is sometimes overlooked in the rush to get all the way up the arm of the Cape.
The trolleys – free for race participants – will provide a valuable service, she explained.
In addition to helping runners find Yarmouth’s most popular restaurants and bars, the trolleys will provide a measure of safety. After running multiple relay legs and riding in a van with other team members for 36 hours, the racers will be tired, achy and blistered, Sadlier explained. And the trolleys will pick them up, take them where they want to go, and bring them back to their hotels, so they can experience the area without the worry of finding a designated driver who is still fresh enough to drive, she said.
The new finish line also benefits local businesses during Cape Cod’s spring shoulder season, bringing thousands of visitors to Yarmouth a full two weeks before Memorial Day weekend, when the summer season begins in earnest.
“It’s a perfect way to highlight Yarmouth and our businesses,” said Mary Vilbon, executive director of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce.
It’s been a long winter, Vilbon noted, adding “An influx of 4,000 runners in town, we anticipate will have a positive economic impact. Many of the businesses are thrilled to have a new event in town and welcome Ragnar to Yarmouth,” she said.
Some restaurants are providing discounts to runners and mixing up a Ragnar signature drink, she said. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce is providing materials for runner goodie bags for each team.
The race has traditionally finished in Provincetown, Sadlier explained, noting that the Pilgrim Monument was always a popular destination. But the Cape Cod race has grown over the years, she said. And the logistics of bringing thousands of runners and hundreds of their team vans into Provincetown’s tiny streets became a formidable challenge. Last fall, race organizers learned that Route 6 in Truro was scheduled for repaving in the spring of 2019, which meant there would have been no way to connect Provincetown to the rest of the course.
Race organizers had been eyeing Smuggler’s Beach, Sadlier said, and they made it happen this year. “The town of Yarmouth has been so welcoming, and you know they’ve really reached out and gathered the community together,” she said. “It’s turned into a really beautiful partnership.”
Sadlier noted there is already one section of the Cape Cod course that runners forgo. Due to traffic congestion and scheduled roadwork on the Bourne Bridge this spring, the transition from Plymouth to Sandwich is what race officials call a “virtual” exchange. That virtual leg was also in place last year, when the Sagamore Bridge was under construction.
ABOUT THE RAGNAR RELAY SERIES
The Ragnar Races – named after a fearless 9th century Scandinavian conqueror – began in Utah 16 years ago, and the contests have steadily grown in popularity, achieving a cult-like status today. Ragnar now operates 17 relay races around the world, along with numerous trail races, sprints and sunset races. The Reebok Ragnar Cape Cod Relay Race remains one of the most popular in the series – largely because the Cape is such a beautiful destination, Sadlier said.
A typical Ragnar Relay team includes 12 runners, who separate into two vehicles with six in each. The vans accompany their six runners, hopscotching along the course and stopping in designated areas, where team members can get out and offer the current runner a drink of water and some emotional support. Each racer runs three legs during the 200-ish mile course, resting in the vans while their teammates run. So, while there may be 4,000 to 5,000 total runners in a single race, there are only about 400 to 500 racers actually running on the course at a given time, Sadlier said.
All Ragnar Relay courses are roughly 200 miles long, and are run day and night, over a 22-hour to 38-hour time span, with no stops. Starting times are staggered over several hours to give slower teams an earlier send-off, ensuring that all runners finish within a reasonable timeframe. The staggered times also help keep traffic to a minimum.
ABOUT THE REEBOK RAGNAR CAPE COD RELAY RACE
The Ragnar Cape Cod Relay Race begins 5 a.m., Friday, May 10, at Nantasket Beach in Hull. Runners make exchanges through South Shore communities before completing the first section at Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth.
When one van full of runners finishes at Myles Standish, racers in the other vehicle begin their legs at Sandwich High School, off Quaker Meeting House Road in East Sandwich, she said.
From Sandwich, runners will make their way through Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis before picking up sections of the Cape Cod Rail Trail and continuing through Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and into Wellfleet. (The course extends all the way to White Crest Beach in Wellfleet before turning back southward toward Yarmouth.)
Runners should reach Smuggler’s Beach in South Yarmouth beginning Saturday morning and continuing throughout the day. The peak time for runners finishing will be late Saturday afternoon and evening. A full map of the course with descriptions of each leg is available on the Ragnar Relay website: https://www.runragnar.com/
Working with the community is an important part of all the Ragnar races, Sadlier said, noting that the Cape Cod relay will include some 750 race-course volunteers – many of them local track clubs and community organizations that will receive donations from Ragnar. Race organizers also pay for extra additional traffic details hired for the weekend race, Sadlier said.
WANT MORE INFORMATION?
Check out the following websites for information for the Reebok Ragnar Cape Cod Relay Race:
Ragnar Relay website, with links to Reebok Ragnar Cape Cod Relay Race and maps of the course: https://www.runragnar.com/
Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, with links to businesses, activities, and a calendar of events, including the Reebok Ragnar Cape Cod Relay Race: