Devin Nissen is not a runner. But he was among 11 other fake-mustache-clad Army and Navy veterans who were running a total of 196.1 miles from Madison to Chicago with the Ragnar Relay Series.
“I got duped into signing up for this,” Nissen said Friday. “I actually just signed up yesterday.”
Nissen’s team was one of 519 Ragnar teams that left Olin-Turville Park on Friday morning. The race, named after a ninth century Scandinavian king, is a continuous, overnight race where each team member runs a segment.
Segments are divided into three legs, varying from 2.7 to 9.4 miles. Teammates follow in passenger vans until they reach a checkpoint, where the runner hands off a plastic orange slap bracelet to the next runner.
“They basically just leapfrog down the course,” said Ragnar spokeswomen Elisa Timothy.
Runners’ reasons for participating vary. Some, like Josh Hogan of Chicago, run for charity.
Hogan was competing for his fourth time, this installment with team Manexam.com. The group was running for a charity of the same name started by a friend who is a cancer survivor.
Others, like father-son duo Dale and Ben Knapp, were doing it for the camaraderie.
“Running is such an individual sport,” Dale said. “This is more about competing with a team. It’s good company.”
Some, like Kim Quinn and Eric Tatro, just want to prove they can do it.
“I’m running with my husband’s co-workers, so I’m really just trying to impress them,” Quinn said.
This is Tatro’s sophomore Ragnar run. Having lost 115 pounds in recent years, Tatro said he was looking for a new challenge.
“But I think he’s really in it for the beer at the end,” Tatro’s wife joked.