10th annual 'Wasatch Back' relay gets record-setting participation

Jun 21, 2013

Day two of the 10th annual Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back got underway early Friday morning on the USU campus where runners and spectators lined up at the starting line.

Organizers say this year’s event is expected to draw a record 18,000 participants to Northern Utah and generate tourism dollars in Cache and Ogden valleys and across the event footprint.

About 1,500 teams of 12 runners each are registered for the relay that stretches nearly 200 miles from the USU Ralph Maughan Track Stadium to Park City. The overnight relay is broken up into segments with each runner tackling different legs - sometimes in the middle of the night under what will be a nearly full moon. Throughout the event, runners get a chance to rest and socialize with their fellow team members.

Runner Maria Montoya Elder from Cottonwood Heights says the fun of the race is spending time with other runners.

Nancy, a first-time Ragnar participant from Salt Lake City, is part of the relay team “Going Down in Flames.” Members of the team showed up at the starting line dressed as firefighters.

Ragnar Spokesperson Eliot Ward says the Wasatch Back was the first Ragnar event held back in 2004. The Utah-based organization has become a cultural phenomenon with 21 races in the US and Canada and an estimated 200,000 participants.

Ward says Ragnar injects about $850,000 into the Utah economy, and benefits multiple charities including the Gold Medal Mile Program and the Park City Educational Foundation.

Organizers say they're thrilled to see such financial impact across Utah.

“We know our participants come together for many reasons. But along the way, they are helping support local economies all along the course," said Tanner Bell, co-founder of Ragnar Relay Series. “Between hotels, supporting local restaurants, van rentals and more, it really is a positive impact they create for the region.”