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Marathons and Ragnar races.

Our pioneer ancestors would roll their eyes if they were to witness people actually paying for and getting great satisfaction in participating in these grueling events.

The more popular these races become, the more inventive people are coming up with new ideas. There are mud runs, mountain runs and runs for charity, among others. In fact, it seems people will pay to run in anything that gives them an incentive to train.

Last month, several of our family members participated in the 2015 Ragnar Del Sol. We were the designated children-sitters while this insanity was happening. If you are as clueless as Grit and I were about what a Ragnar Relay Series was before that weekend let ragnarrelay.com fill you in:

“You and 11 of your craziest friends (or five of your crazier friends for an ultra team) pile into two vans and tag team running 200(ish) miles, day and night, relay-style. Only one runner hits the road at a time. Each participant runs three times, with each leg ranging between 3-8 miles and varying in difficulty. So, from the elite runner down to the novice jogger, it's the perfect race for anyone.”

This year, the elite duty went to our daughter-in-law Stacy, who got a special medal for her endurance.

The reason our family decided to do the run was their brother and uncle’s Forever Young Foundation had partnered with Del Sol. Our children, grandchildren and their friends came back tired and limping Saturday night, but they were so pleased with their success representing the foundation. There was a noticeable camaraderie for their efforts.

The concept of the Ragnar started in Park City, Utah. It was a life-long dream of Steve Hill, and it came to fruition in 2004 when he partnered with his son Dan and Dan’s college roommate Tanner Bell. They named it Ragnar in honor of an ancient free-spirited and fearless Scandinavian king.

Deseret News' Amy Donaldson wrote an interesting article about the race, giving good examples of why people choose to take the challenge (see "Ragnar founder finally reaps what he’s sown" from June 2013).

Since we were already in Arizona, we were enlisted the following weekend by our friend Steve Curran, who was responsible for the finish line area of the BMO Harris Bank Phoenix Marathon. As a volunteer, he devotes many hours and does an admirable job, one of which is recruiting an army of people to help him.

Some other people we know, Brad and Kim Arnette, are the masterminds of this marathon that began four years ago.

Any of these races takes a tremendous amount of organization enlisting sponsors and assuring safety of the runners. For the Phoenix Marathon, a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon, it means safety for 10,000 runners participating in the 10K, half marathon and marathon.

It was interesting to watch the throngs of people. The finish line was right behind us, so we saw many of the runners coming in as well as when they came to our booth for food. Some of the runners I knew, like Emily Stratford and her daughter Anna.

The ending of the race was a free 1K fun run for children, which this year was organized by another friend Alison Bench.

Times change.

For this generation whose livelihood does not always require hard labor, perhaps exercise seems a better choice for people to join together and bond through their challenges rather than sitting home eating chips and watching screens.

And your entry fee gets you a medal and a picture to hang on the wall showing off your new fit body.

Email: sasy273@gmail.com