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Fords Friends Tackle Ragnar

In late March four adventurous Westchase residents joined friends and co-workers to participate in a two-day, one-night, 200-ish mile relay race across Tennessee.

As part of the Sloppy Joggers team, Fords neighbors Nathalie and Brian Koebel, Kirk Sexton, and Michael Nordwall, along with friends from California, Virginia, and North Dakota, ended up winning first place in the mixed masters division of a race called the Ragnar Relay. Since 2004 Ragnar Relay has organized road and trail relay races in the U.S. and Canada.

The Sloppy Joggers ran the Tennessee relay. They left picturesque downtown Chattanooga on Friday, March 24, at 8:30 a.m., and followed the Tennessee River before heading North into the mountains. Thirty hours, six minutes, and 10.3 seconds later at around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, they reached the Music City Walk of Fame in downtown Nashville.

During the relay race, teams of 12 (or six) people in two vans take turns running, resting, eating and sleeping. Only one runner hits the road at a time. When they are not running, other team members are on support duty. While one group is running the race, the other group has the chance to get food, sleep and cheer on their team. “The exchanges (meet-up place for the teams to switch) are in schools. The PTSA there sells food and snacks. One had homemade chicken noodle soup. They have their showers and restrooms open and quiet zones where you can take a nap,” said Nathalie.

The Sloppy Joggers have participated in the Ragnar Relay before with Nathalie as a van driver and team supporter. This, however, was her first time to run in the race. “I was thrilled to be able to run and excited about the medal. I got one when I was the driver but I didn’t feel like I did anything to deserve it. This time I felt like I earned it,” said Nathalie, who had foot surgery earlier in the year. “It was exciting to be able to do it,” she added.

In fact, Nathalie says she is itching to do another one and the team is getting ready to vote on the relay they will compete in next – Southern California, Napa Valley, or Cape Cod.

“It is a lot of fun,” said Nathalie. “It is like its own culture.”

By Marcy Sanford


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