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Can’t Be Stopped

Area Women Complete Ragnar Road Minnesota Race

Pictured, from left, are: Chelsea Fisher, Rebecca Allen, Maggie Dalton, Carly Dalton, Jenna Peterson and Michelle Kushner as they crossed the finish line at the end of the Ragnar Road Minnesota race in Duluth on Saturday. Submitted photo

The 206.4-mile drive from Saint Paul to Duluth can be pleasant at this time of the year.

On foot, the distance becomes grueling. With rain falling the entire time, daunting at best.

A run between the two eastern Minnesota cities can require a little help from some friends.

Six local women tackled the task this past weekend when they ran in the Ragnar Road Minnesota on Friday and Saturday.

Rebecca Allen, Maple Grove varsity softball coach; Maggie Dalton, Jamestown jayvee soccer and softball coach; Carly Dalton, Randolph softball coach; Jenna Peterson; Chelsea Fisher; and Michelle Kushner drove to Minnesota with “dad coaches” Tyler Peterson and Scott Roberts last Thursday.

One side of the van in which team “Total Chaos” traveled throughout the Ragnar Road Minnesota race is pictured near the end of the race Saturday near Duluth, Minnesota. Submitted photo

“Maggie went to (Jamestown High School), we played basketball and softball together. We’re in a golf league together,” Allen said Monday evening. “Alyssa Canfield is a die-hard and she would’ve been there if she could’ve. We met Jenna Peterson through Alyssa. Michelle Kushner went to Pitt-Bradford and played softball and basketball with Maggie. She agreed to it from the get-go.”

The group originally signed up for the Ragnar Road Michigan in 2021, a race that stretches from Muskegon to Traverse City, but they were “a little out of shape after COVID,” according to Allen.

Maggie Dalton, the team captain, then deferred to the 2022 race in Minnesota this past weekend.

“The team captain’s role is tremendous,” Allen said. “She has to organize transportation, hotels and costs, and each runner has to have the proper amount of safety equipment.”

“Your overnight running relay adventure begins in St. Paul. Your team of 12 (six for the ultra race) will wind your way past countless northern Minnesota lakes, through quaint towns, and along the St. Croix River as you head north toward Duluth,” a description of the race states on the runragnar.com website. “This beautiful course takes advantage of shaded, paved paths and is perfect for any level of runner.

Pictured, from left, are: Scott Roberts, Maggie Dalton, Carly Dalton, Michelle Kushner, Rebecca Allen, Chelsea Fisher, Jenna Peterson and Tyler Peterson. The six women competed in the Ragnar Road Minnesota race on Friday and Saturday. The two men provided driving, navigation and support. Submitted photo

“As if all that wasn’t enough, the last three legs of your journey will give you spectacular views of your final destination, Lake Superior, where you’ll join your team to cross the finish line together,” the description continues.

Team “Total Chaos” as they named themselves, started the race Friday morning at 6:30 with the six women alternating legs of the race.

“The race is split into 36 legs. For a six-person team, there are two options: runners Nos. 1-6 can run a leg apiece and then start over at No. 1, or runners can run two legs apiece before they start over.”

While one woman ran, the rest rode in the van until their next turn. Tyler Peterson and Roberts served as drivers, navigators and emotional supporters.

“They were the ones who took videos and pictures for us,” Allen said. “At nighttime when the women not running were trying to sleep, they would be outside with the runners making sure we would get to the exchange points.”

Jenna Peterson checks off her third leg, part of 32.7 miles that she completed. Submitted photo

About a week before the race, the forecast called for temperatures in the low to mid-80s with high humidity, but as the race days approached, rain entered the forecast — a lot of it.

“I have a picture of the weather map and the entire Minnesota area was covered in green or red,” Allen said of the radar. “It was definitely better running weather.”

For Allen, her six legs of the race ranged in distance from her shortest leg, the second one at 2.6 miles, to her third leg, the longest one at 11.1 miles. Allen’s total distance ended up 38.6 miles.

“I would definitely classify us as ‘race finishers.’ We were not setting out to break any records,” Allen said. “The most challenging part, and the reason why we do it … is you become exhausted very quickly. You don’t get a lot of sleep and you can’t eat a regular diet over the 36 hours. With those barriers, we were just looking to finish it.”

As day turned to night, the women began tiring — even questioning the remainder of the race. Sleep consisted of intervals between 40 minutes and at most four hours. But they pushed through.

“I can say that every one of us goes through a roller-coaster of emotions. At the beginning we are very excited, hopeful and energized,” Allen said. “When those night runs come, you start to question why you are here, why you are doing this and whether or not you can finish.

“Through the support of each other, you eventually carry yourself through the finish line,” Allen added.

Carly Dalton ran the final leg of the race and about 15 feet before the end, the other five women joined her for a picture crossing the finish line.

The final tally: 35 hours and 10 minutes — good for fifth in the Women’s Ultra Division.

“That’s a great moment to share with your friends or people you didn’t know who have now become your friends because you shared such an emotional experience,” Allen said. “It’s a physical endurance event that breaks you and lifts you up at the same time.”

As far as plans for the next Ragnar Road Race, a message went live to the group in a text thread Monday asking about one in New England from Groton, Connecticut, to Quincy, Massachusetts, next May.

“Some people were already calling dibs on which legs they would like to run,” Allen said. “I just replied ‘Too soon.'”

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