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GPSW Green Monsters Ragnar Relay Adventure

An unidentified runner runs alone on the back roads. Much of the time, runners were all alone on the roads during the 200 mile run from Ventura to Dana Point. (Photo courtsey of GPSW)

An unidentified runner runs alone on the back roads. Much of the time, runners were all alone on the roads during the 200 mile run from Ventura to Dana Point. (Photo courtsey of GPSW)

Team Green Monsters was one of two GPSW teams fielded in the run, April 14.  Pictured (left to right): Lt .Col. Dave Learned, Katy Giglio, Capt. Nancy Dias, Lt. Col. Shawn Brennan, Maj. Chris Williams and 1st Lt. Mike Haugen. (Photo courtsey of GPSW)

Team Green Monsters was one of two GPSW teams fielded in the run, April 14. Pictured (left to right): Lt .Col. Dave Learned, Katy Giglio, Capt. Nancy Dias, Lt. Col. Shawn Brennan, Maj. Chris Williams and 1st Lt. Mike Haugen. (Photo courtsey of GPSW)

Nighttime Ragnar runners were a strange sight, covered in reflective gear. (Photo courtsey of GPSW)

Nighttime Ragnar runners were a strange sight, covered in reflective gear. (Photo courtsey of GPSW)

Lt .Col. Shawn Brennan glows in the dark. Teams from GPWS ran a 200 mile relay from Ventura to Dana Point, Calif., April 14. (Photo courtsey of GPSW)

Lt .Col. Shawn Brennan glows in the dark. Teams from GPWS ran a 200 mile relay from Ventura to Dana Point, Calif., April 14. (Photo courtsey of GPSW)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Imagine running more than 200 miles from Ventura to Dana Point, Calif., with a few of your closest friends. Now imagine running it all in a single day, packed into a too-small van with these (now very sweaty) friends, your only opportunity for sleep is perhaps two hours on a wooden pier, and your only food source is the seemingly endless supply of energy bars, gel packs, bananas and trail mix packed into your duffle bag. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

That's how it sounded to 18 of the GPS Wing's most athletic and adventurous members. The event is called the Ragnar Relay, a running race held in a dozen cities across the U.S. The courses are always designed to test your mettle - whether climbing 4,000 feet through the mountains of Utah or running a hundred miles along industrial highways in the L.A. Basin. And though it sounds unlikely, the event is always a fun and memorable experience.

The GPS Wing fielded two teams in this year's Ragnar Relay SoCal: The Gophers, a 12-person, "regular" team, and The Green Monsters, a 6-person "ultra" team. Each team was allowed two vans to transport its members along the course. One team member would run a predetermined distance - usually about 6 miles for the regular teams or 12 miles for an ultra team. At the end of that leg, the runner would hand off a makeshift baton to the next runner... On an on it went, until all team members had run three times and the finish line was in sight.

The team ran through Hollywood in the wee hours of the morning, startling club-hopping bystanders with a plethora of reflective gear. Runners darted into local Starbucks shops in search of clean restrooms. They partook of butter-laden pancakes and waffles just hours before the next 13-miler. They did "happy dances" for teammates as ran by them with a face full of dirt from fast-moving 18-wheelers.

Military members were reminded of field training exercises - struggling to keep going, but knowing they must continue so as not to let the team down. As one runner said, "It's amazing what the human body is capable of" when people are depending on you. One team member had never run more than 14 miles, but was somehow able to pound out 34 miles on race day. The sense of duty and commitment to the team wasn't limited to military members only; the civilian members of the teams were just as dedicated to finishing the race as they are to accomplishing the GPS Wing mission on a daily basis.

Ultimately, both teams finished far ahead of projections. Among the teams' accomplishments were several black or missing toenails, at least two "lost lunches," a survived hit-and-run, approximately 75,000 calories consumed, and a first-place finish.

More than 250 teams ran Ragnar SoCal 2010. The Green Monsters finished 15th overall and were the first-place Ultra (6-person) team, in 27 hours, 19 minutes. The Gophers finished 6th in their division (Male Public Service), in 30 hours and 17 minutes.