Why the Heck Do Mormons Run Ragnar?
Last month, I ran my first race, a Ragnar relay race in Las Vegas. It was a great experience and not just because I got about 24 hours away from my kids.
Lots of my fellow runners (the ones who “road-killed me” while saying, “You’re doing GREAT!,” without a hint of irony as they left me in the dust) were Mormon.
I was surprised. We were in “Sin City” after all, so I began to wonder why the heck do Mormons run Ragnar?
Is it because that as a culture that espouses the goodness of funeral potatoes, we take Section 89 as a green light to carb-load so that one can “run and not be weary?”
Don’t we all need a break? In a church that has its members shoot for eternal perfection, we have plenty to keep ourselves busy. So running about 200 miles in 24 hours with a team of 12 is a breeze when you think about everything you’ve got to do before you’re going to be like Jesus.
I met a woman who says she loves the Ragnar specifically for the break it offers her. Did I mention she is pregnant with #8 and nearing her 30th birthday? I suspect her legs of the race were easier than the 3 hour block she did the next day (Sunday) because, yes, Ragnar is one of the few races that won’t impinge on your Sabbath worship.
And because it’s so hard to be like Jesus (what would Jesus do when that crazy lady at the grocery store yells at me to keep my six year old in the shopping cart?), sometimes, it’s nice to do something that will track concrete, quantifiable progress. There’s nothing like a hobby where you can say, “I ran 5 miles yesterday, and 6 miles today…I’m getting better at this!” Or, “I can run 20 miles at a 10 minute pace! I’m done training for this race!”
There’s also your team. Goodness, it takes a lot of people to make a team: 12 runners, 2 drivers, and 3 volunteers. Ragnar organizers say that the chances of people dropping out lessens if they all know each other. So, if you’re Mormon, you probably have a big enough family to fill all those positions. Even if you’re a convert, you could start asking all those SAHM’s in your ward who go to the gym for hours every day to get away from their kids awesome endorphins and listen to the scriptures on their iPod.
I’m sure there’s other reasons Mormons run Ragnar beyond the thrill of running under that big inflated orange Ragnar-symbol-thingy so you can wear your five pound Ragnar medal to church the next day (because all the other cool Mormons will be wearing their’s, too).