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New Teammate for Local Relay Race

Posted by Chrissy Horan  January 11, 2014 05:21 PM

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Race directors from the well known New England relay race Reach the Beach announced on Wednesday that they will be merging with the Ragnar Relay Series. Entering their 16th year, Mike Dionne and Rich Mazzola are best known for their original race in New Hampshire, a 200 mile team relay starting at Canon Mountain and ending at Hampton Beach. The pair later started a Massachusetts relay in 2010 and one time New Jersey relay in 2012.

As part of the partnership, Reach the Beach Massachusetts will fold into Ragnar Cape Cod, which has occurred around the same weekend in May since 2012. Reach the Beach New Hampshire will remain, with New Balance still the primary sponsor, but will have the additional support and resources of Ragnar.

I have run RTB NH 5 times, volunteered at RTB MA twice and ran Ragnar Del Sol in AZ back in 2011. So I have some experience with each race.

I had a good experience running Ragnar del Sol, partly due to my awesome van mates (5 guys and a lot of fart jokes) and partly because I was running in Arizona in February. But beyond that, I thought it was well organized and had enough volunteer and safety support. (Ragnar also requires each team to provide 3 volunteers for the race.)

But it was not Reach the Beach. Maybe it's a New England vs. AZ thing, but while Ragnar Del Sol was well organized and my team was fun, the race just had a different feel.

Reach the Beach New Hampshire was started by 2 guys and a lot of the original volunteers were their family members. Having participated in the race 5 times in the last 7 years, to me, the race still has some of that homegrown feel. Two guys also started Ragnar in 2004, but in Utah. I’m not sure how this national company can bring that to the Cape Cod and New Hampshire races, or if they want to.

This happens all the time, right? A small venture grows to a point it needs the support of a larger business. As the race has grown, support through sponsorship and other resources I'm sure are necessary to sustain the traditions started and accommodate more runners, and so I assume partnering with Ragnar is the next step along these lines.

I want to be excited for Reach the Beach to succeed as a result of this partnership, but change can make me nervous. I’m a little worried that the race that has become a traditional request for a vacation day for me each September will lose it’s feel and become just a business.

And on a personal level, I’m also concerned about their charity partnerships. The Alzheimer’s Association has been an official charity partner of both the New Hampshire and Massachusetts relays for the last several years and the race raises a good chunk of change for the organization each year. Nothing was mentioned in the announcements about any of the race charities.

While it seems ridiculous to think I would not want to run 17 miles with no sleep, eat mostly peanut butter and jelly and live in a van that smells like old running shoes for 30 hours, I reserve the right to be choosy and will make the decision to run this race year by year, as the race partnership develops.

Afterall, there are much simpler ways to reach the beach.

As always, let me know what you think and what’s going on in your running community. Post comments here or email me at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

     Chrissy Horan has been running around Boston and nearby neighborhoods since 2000. An athlete through high school and college, she has found the running community in Boston to More »

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