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Glencoe women team up to win 200-mile Ragnar Relay division

A group of Glencoe women don’t even find a standard Ragnar Relay — an annual 200-mile, all-night race — difficult enough.

The Madison-to-Chicago race that was held June 6 and 7 has 36 legs of differing lengths (between 2.7 and 9.6 miles) and is designed for 12 runners. Audrey West only had nine teammates for the run.

“We’ve always done a group of 10 women to make it a little more challenging,” West said.

West’s group, 10 Chicks No Roosters, won the Women’s Masters division and finished at 31 hours, 22 minutes, 37 seconds. The time was only eight minutes off their estimated pace. Two runners, Babie Jeppe and Karen Tamburro, held mile splits around 7:30, everyone ran at least 16 miles and several members ran an extra leg to make up for the two-person disadvantage.

The relay began in Madison, Wisconsin, and ended in Lincoln Park, and vans shuttled racers to checkpoints and exchanges. The route winds throughout trails and roads in rural Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and the suburbs along the shore. The race is run continuously, so teams run overnight. Members of the 10 Chicks No Roosters squad said they found the run peaceful and enjoyable, but it still had its obstacles.

“I love it, I love the challenge,” Rachelle Thompson said. “You’re challenged by the weather during the day and you’re challenged by the fear that you might experience in the middle of the night.”

The group is fronted by a core of four members who have done four of the last five Ragnar Relays — West, Thompson, Betsy Tilkemeier and Victoria Lovely. Lovely read about the race and the group decided to try it in 2010. They recruited other women to fill out a team of over-40-year-old runners.

“We all like to run, we all like to do some races,” Tilkemeier said. “The camaraderie aspect of it and the craziness of it was compelling to us.”

By the end of the race the runners are sweaty, sore and sleep deprived, but the closeness has made the run worthwhile for the women.

“It’s a great bonding experience when you live in a car for 30 hours with five girls,” Thompson said. “You get to know one another pretty darn well.”

The women go on runs together throughout the year and participate in The Rock Run, a roughly 50-mile run with different legs around the island of Nantucket’s perimeter during Labor Day weekend. They plan on running the Ragnar again next year.

“One of the other women and I made a comment after we finished our night run, we looked at each other and were like ‘Oh, we’re getting too old for this,’ ” West said. “But of course at the finish line, you’re enjoying yourself and having fun. You’re out recruiting new runners the next day.”

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