Local team wins Ragnar Michigan Trail event at Hanson Hills
More than 1,100 runners compete in all-day, all-night relay race on June 15-16
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Out of more than 1,100 runners on more than 100 teams, a local group ended up taking first place in the main division of the Ragnar Michigan Trail relay race held at Hanson Hills Recreation Area on Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16.
Justin Andre, Director of Operations for Grayling Recreation Authority (the governing body for Hanson Hills), put together a team for the event consisting of a few GRA 10K regulars and two of his Grayling High School cross country runners. Andre is the coach of the cross country program, and the athletes practice at Hanson Hills.
The first place “Hanson Hills” squad featured Andre, Bob Smith, Emily Short, Jorden Wakeley, Ryan Harris, Christian Artress, Jeffery Kennedy, and Eddie Roginski. The team finished in 18:41:50, according to results posted online by Ragnar.
“Bob and I, having a bunch of young, in-shape runners helped us out,” Andre said. “I recruited really well. I recruited a lot of fast guys so Bob and I could enjoy the scenery.”
Andre said he had fun competing in the event.
“I was very impressed with how organized Ragnar was and how much fun the mountain bike trails were to run. It was kind of refreshing to be on trails I was really familiar with on a route I’d never run before,” Andre said.
The “Hanson Hills” squad competed in the Open Division, which featured 130 total teams, 120 of which were official finishers. There were also nine “ultra” four-person teams.
The Ragnar Michigan Trail was a relay race. Each team member had to complete three different loops at Hanson Hills during the event, approximately 15 miles for each competitor throughout the two-day event. Runners started on Saturday, ran throughout the night, and finished on Sunday. Start times were staggered.
Andre, who helped bring the Ragnar to Grayling with his job as Director of Operations for Grayling Recreation Authority, said it was a great event.
“I think it was awesome,” Andre said. “It was a cool, relaxed environment. There were all kinds of activities for people not running. Just a fun atmosphere. Good boost for the community and the Grayling area.”
CC Pelletier, Ragnar Michigan Trail Race Director, said Ragnar is already planning for next year’s event at Hanson Hills.
“We expect it to grow next year and carry on from there,” Pelletier said.
“We’re hoping it becomes an annual event,” Andre said. “With all the time it takes, they typically don’t do just one year.”
Part of the appeal of Ragnar trail events is the “village” set up around the course. The Ragnar Village at Hanson Hills Recreation Area – located behind the recently renovated lodge and beyond – featured tents for participants, tents for apparel shops, a fire pit, a relay wrist band exchange station, a yoga area at the Grayling Rotary Pavilion, music, a coffee station, food trucks, music, a shoe drying station, a potable water station, a beer tent run by the Grayling Rotary Club, a recovery station inside the lodge, and a medical station with Frederic EMS.
“It was pretty awesome to see the whole process,” Andre said. “This is well orchestrated.”
Ragnar conducts races throughout the United States, and it even has a few events in other countries, including England, Sweden, Germany, and Australia, Pelletier said.
Though a local team won the event, most Ragnar Michigan Trail runners were people from out of town and out of state.
“They are definitely from all over the place,” Pelletier said.
Complete team results of the 2019 Ragnar Michigan Trail are available online at: http://www.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16432&RId=4158&EId=5&dt=0