'Ragnar' tests endurance of 58th MXS Airmen

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- With temperatures nearing 100 degrees and sleep deprivation setting in, 12 Airmen from the 58th Maintenance Squadron powered through a 200-mile relay race known as “Ragnar.”

The race goes for more than 24 hours, broken into segments. Each member of the team competes in a segment, and then switches with another team member for the next segment. The team rode in a van while one member ran. The team would then arrive at the segment end, switch runners, and continue to the next segment. Team members attempted to sleep in the van when they were not running.

“When I took command here last July, I decided I wanted to run a Ragnar race just to get to know more people in my squadron and to have some camaraderie,” said Maj. Albert Knapp, 58th Maintenance Squadron commander. “We had a lot of people that were really interested in it right away.  We started meeting last fall to work out the logistics.”

The race ran from Wickenburg, Arizona, to Fountain Hills, and around the capital city of Phoenix. The course snaked through the suburbs and rocky terrain around Phoenix.

“I read a few things online like tips and tricks to follow, but I thought the hardest thing was getting ready to go for the next run,” said Senior Airman Chris Ogle, 58th MXS aircraft structural maintenance specialist. “The first run everyone comes out and they’re pretty upbeat and pumped. But you’re in that tight cramped van for five or six hours before you run again and you’re just expected to bounce out of the van and run.”

Despite the challenges, the team powered through their own exhaustion and came in 14th place out of 250 teams.  

“It’s interesting to see people in pain,” said Senior Airman Zachary Benedetti, 58th MXS jet engine mechanic. “It’s nice to see what kind of character people have. I was not disappointed by any of my teammates.”

The team wants to do another Ragnar before Major Knapp leaves next summer.

“Everyone really came through,” Knapp said. “The campground we stayed at, ‘Horspitality,’ took care of us and let us stay there for free because we’re military. We’re going to give them one of our squadron lythos.”