Colorado Ragnar Relay



A Renaissance Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound School Approach to Challenge by Choice

The Ragnar Relay Colorado is not only an important personal challenge for our participants, it is also an important challenge for our community. Support for the team is support for the Renaissance Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound School. Thank you!

What do 12 teachers, 200 mountain miles, 2 vans, 48 running shoes, 12 reflective vests, 24 sets of running clothes, tons of granola and pasta, several buckets of sweat, at least 12 pillows, several volunteers, and 0 mountain lions have in common? The Ragnar Relay Colorado! September 6th and 7th 2013, 12 brave/crazy Renaissance Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound teachers and friends ran the Ragnar Relay Colorado.


Renaissance is an Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound school and we intend to live our philosophy! We seek adventure that pushes our comfort zones, adventure that teaches us about ourselves, and adventure that allows us to discover that we can do more than we ever thought we could. This is exactly what we ask our students to do and participating in the Ragnar Relay helped us walk the talk.


And as a bonus ... the Ragnar Relay donates some of the registration fees to Colorado Outward Bound. Since Renaissance is an Outward Bound school Ragnar provides one way we can stay connected and contribute.


What is Ragnar

Ragnar is the overnight running relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport. This is tag-team running at its best. One runner hits the road at a time. Each participant runs three times with legs ranging between 2-10 miles and varying in difficulty. So from the elite runner down to the novice jogger, it provides a challenge for all abilities!



Ragnar Crew

Neil--4th grade teacher

Lindsey--4th grade teacher

Hanni--2nd grade teacher

Amanda--2nd grade teacher

Lauren--3rd grade teacher


Cody--Adventure Education Coordinator

Kenny--6th grade teacher

Beth--Kenny’s wife and DCSD High School Science Teacher

Lisa--6th grade teacher

Julie--Renaissance office staff

Debbie--Former Renaissance teacher/DCSD middle school teacher

News Stories





The Colorado Ragnar

Mountains. Medals. Hardcore Runners. This is the Ragnar Relay Colorado. Runners begin their 200 mile journey at Copper Mountain Ski Resort and then head towards Breckenridge, CO. They will run over the mountains of Breckenridge, Vail, and Aspen/Snowmass and finish on the slopes of Snowmass Ski Resort at an unforgettable finish line party! This Ragnar features the highest elevation of all of the Ragnar courses – over 10,000 feet at its highest! This is truly a course built for runners who like to take it all in--why else would Renaissance teachers picked this challenge!



This is what our runners say about why they are running the Ragnar


I enjoy challenging myself and pushing my body past what I believed were limitations, and I believe that our mind holds us back from challenges that we believe are beyond our comfort zone.  Running a total of 22 miles is much farther than I have ever run before, so I feel that this is a new challenge for me.  As an endurance athlete, I understand that in order to reach a  difficult goal, that I must pay the price and put in the work.  This means paying attention to the foods that I put in my body, the amount of sleep I get, and the correct exercise.  During a long run I've learned not to go as fast as I can, because that is not the goal.  That is wasted time and energy and won't help me accomplish my goals.  Instead, I must think about what I can do at the present moment to help me an hour or two later. I believe this same philosophy can be transferred over to the academic setting.  Sports can teach you a great deal about hard work, overcoming obstacles, and achieving a new level of confidence.


This is why I am running the Ragnar

-Neil Reese

This experience has already changed my life, and the race is still weeks away.  When this opportunity was presented, I wholeheartedly accepted, even though I was not a runner at that time. I wanted to be an example to my students and embody the spirit of adventure education that I so strongly believe in. So then the next challenge was actually running. I remember  when I first started training, I could not run a mile, without feeling like I was going to pass out. Fast forward five months of training, and I can celebrate running a half marathon!  I started off doing this for others, but now I am doing this for me, which is the best reason to do something. I can now say that I love running, I love how it makes me feel, and I love the results of trying something new, outside my comfort zone.


I continue to have my reservations about running at a high elevation, in the heat, and at night. But, if I look how far I have come, I know that it is important to never underestimate the power of believing in yourself and what you can accomplish!

~Lauren Gunn

My first reaction to hearing about this race was to have doubts about being able to run that far. I have been a runner most of my adult life, but, having had some challenges over the past few years, I don't know whether I can run one day to the next. My biggest worry is that I will have a 'bad' running day the day of the race and let everyone else down. And if I am truthful with myself, I am very competitive and do not like to be the underdog. But, I am so excited about doing something I have never done before, running in the dark (my favorite time to run) and to watch everyone else strive to meet their goals. Adventure Education teaches us not only that we can stretch our physical limits, but a lot about ourselves. I think we will ALL learn a bit about ourselves with this experience. So, given the challenge to do this, I can't say no. And, looking at all our kids in the school challenging themselves with Adventure Education, we gotta

show them these personal challenges are life long and you can always learn, stretch yourself far beyond what you think you can do, and be part of such a wonderful crew to help you through. 

-Julie Vrattos 

I am doing the Ragnar because I told the teachers that if they really, really, really needed another person, I would do it.


My biggest challenge is running. I don’t mind the exertion/exercise, I just find it to lack a fun factor. Generally my activities include a large exertion followed by a ton of fun. Running is a decent exertion, but lacks air time and rolling or sliding down a hill. The hardest part of this challenge is training. To do my best, and to help my team as much as possible, I need to train. My motivation for this is committing to my team members to be strong asset to the group mentally and physically.

-Cody Kremer

I am running, skipping, and cart-wheeling in the Ragnar Relay because it focuses on two of Renaissance’s core beliefs: Belonging and Adventure.  Being part of the Renaissance family is to be part of a community that is continually building a supportive culture.  I appreciate the honesty, humbleness, investment in time and energy, and genuine interest in learning about oneself and our world that Renaissance sustains. I truly feel like I belong.   The adventure of the Ragnar is all about discovering: my comfort zone, the teams’ cohesiveness, the mountain air at 3 am.  I am all about new experiences because they fuel my internal passion for living.  My family’s motto has always been, “Life if not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body; but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming…WOW, what a ride!”


My challenge for the Ragnar will be the timing of the relay.  I am a person very comfortable with a routine, especially when it comes sleeping and eating.  The long length of the relay, spread out over the course of two days will be draining on my energy and I will have to work very hard to keep motivation up at all hours of day and night.  I want to be there to cheer my team members on at every transition and feel the excitement of my upcoming sections, yet I fear I will be tired and drained and it will be hard to take care of my personal needs while traveling in a van.  I love running, especially in the mountains and with this extraordinary group of people.  I have a feeling that the positive energy pulsing through our crew will help take care of me andlead us to success! 

-Beth Radefeld 

I started running to get back into shape after having my kids.  Why did I choose to be a runner.  Well…basically it was all I had time for!  Gone were the days where I had the luxury of driving to the gym, taking an hour class and driving back!!  Soon, what started as a convenient workout started to turn into an obsession.  I was spending my money on race entry fees and collecting race t-shirts instead of shopping for new clothes.  As soon as I crossed the finish line I would look at the clock…did I make a new personal best??  I started to wonder…how far can I run?

As my daughter started to get older though, I discovered a greater purpose for running and leading a healthy life.  I wanted to be her example of a healthy strong woman.  I wanted her to see that I set goals and worked for them.  So now, even if I wanted to stop I couldn’t because running is bigger than just me.

After I was lucky enough to be hired at Renaissance, Deborah told me about Ragnar and I couldn’t pass it up!  Not only is it a new goal to work towards, but it is a wonderful way to meet and build relationship with the teachers at Renaissance.  I feel okay about the mileage, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being terrified about the night runs!  Do mountain lions think runners are tasty?!

-Amanda Deegan


Why I'm doing this...

Because I knew it would challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone, and it's important to do that. Because I'm not a runner (and probably never will be) I don't really enjoy it. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to do things that we don't enjoy.

The Ragnar is aligned to all our core values and mission as a school and I think it's important that I do this. I think leadership must 'walk the talk.'


What is challenging and scary for me...

I'm worried that I will be holding the team back and that my running time will slow the entire team down. That will make me feel terrible. I actually get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about being the worst runner. I know that I am the least able on the team and I struggle to be okay with that. We tell people it's okay if you aren't the best, but it's hard to know you are the ‘weakest link’.

-Deborah Lemmer

Why am I doing this? (I ask myself this often.)

I wanted to challenge myself to learn something new. I do lots of yoga, but little cardio, so I thought it would be physically good for me.


My biggest challenge will be running at night. I am intimidated by being on a dark road with only a reflective vest and headlamp. Running at high altitudes will be an additional challenge and I will really have to work on ways to talk myself through the demanding parts.


I have thought about quitting many times, but I keep telling myself I can do this. I hope all of the time I have put in with the prep work will pay off on race day. I have had to push myself to run on days that I didn't feel like it. I hope to use this experience in other areas of my life to give me strength to persevere.

-Debbie Rabideau

Each year, in our Adventure Education program, I am inspired as I watch my 6th graders (ready or not) dive in, push themselves outside their comfort zones, and find out what they are really made of – all with the support of their crew around them.  I am running the Ragnar because I want to experience something similar with my own, peer “crew”.


I also want to be an example to my students. When I joined our team, running this much was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I have never considered myself “a runner”. Even now, the closest I get to enjoying this sport is a sense that my body has resigned to it a mile or two in. But as we all know, doing what is good for us isn’t always enjoyable. In April, I ran a full mile without stopping to walk for the first time in my life. Now, I’m up to seven straight miles. What a tangible way to build confidence – and to “walk the talk” as a Renaissance teacher.


My biggest fear is in letting our team down with my lack of speed.  My strength is endurance, not speed. I love individual sports because I have control over how I do – and there is a lack of outside pressure. The fact that our team will be depending on me feels scary.


I’m telling myself what I tell other team members: “The point isn’t to be the fastest. It is to work together to accomplish something big, support each other, and have fun.” Internalizing this is my biggest challenge (well, besides the thought of mountain lions and bears during my night run …).

~ Lisa Johnson

For some time now I've longed to improve the quality of my health, and for a variety of reasons, I've not followed through on my desire.  It's been suggested by my wife Beth, that I commit to a race, train, and as a result of training be healthier.  The idea never appealed to me.  To much work, not enough play I suppose.  Ragnar appealed to me because there is an element of play embedded in the hard work--there's a team to laugh at, and with.  That same team, the ones I laugh with, provide me a stronger and deeper sense of belonging.  That sense of belonging eases my worries about the run and allows me to feel more comfortable in my community.  I'm pushing myself, and as a result I am learning more about me, my limitations and how those limitations can be lifted.  I have Vail Pass to climb; I must remain dedicated to my training.  It won't be easy, but I'll continue to persevere--one bent knee after the other.   

-Kenny Harris


I’m part of the Ragnar team for many reasons. My first reason is I thought it would be a fun social event and a way for me to build deeper relationships with my co-workers. Also, it would give me some accountability in completing a long distance race. I’ve always talked about doing half marathon or something of the sort, but when the time came I’d always make excuse and back out at the last minute. Being part of team, I wouldn’t have the heart to back out on them. 


What I think will be most challenging to me is staying  “mentally tough” during my longer lengths. I’m great for the first five miles but then I find myself breaking down or getting discouraged during miles 6, 7 and 8.  I know I’ve got to stay positive and visualizing myself as a runner to be successful. 

-Lindsey Burris

Why am I running Ragnar?

My family asks me that question a lot. (I don’t come from a family of runners.) Actually, what my mom asks is, “Who in their right mind would do this?” My answer to them is always, “Why not?” Why not challenge myself in a way I never have before? Why not turn an individual sport I love into a team sport? Why not show my children and students that I push myself out of my own comfort zone, hopefully inspiring them to do the same? Why not face my fear of running in the middle of the night, up a mountain pass? Why not have some FUN?


Fear. That’s been the biggest challenge for me through all of this. I have never run in the middle of the mountains in the middle of the night. I know that while I’m out there, I’m going to have to rely on the voice inside my head, reminding me that I am more capable than I think I am. I will recall the feeling I had this summer while mountain biking when I tried a new challenging trail and succeeded. I will push the other voice out, the one telling me to quit, to give up. And when we’re done, we’ll all be able to share in the elation of accomplishing a huge goal. Something we would never have been able to do on our own.  We are Crew.


So, why I am I doing this? Why not?


~Hanni Gilbert

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