Three “great races” to be run this summer


by Erica Mauter | 6/26/09 • I don’t know what, beyond self-proclamation, truly makes a race or event “great” but there are multiple opportunities this summer to observe or partake in various Great Races. There’s the Great Urban Race (Minneapolis edition), the Ragnar Relay Great River, and the Great MN Race.

Great Urban Race

“The Great Urban Race is a wacky urban adventure. Teams of two solve twelve clues, have a wild city adventure and complete fun challenges while discovering the city in a fresh way during a fun day.” is a cityblog for and about life in the twin cities, published by erica mauter. contact

There’s a whole series of Great Urban Races from February through October of this year. Each cities top finishers will play the grand championship in New Orleans in November. The Minnesota edition will run on July 11. Online registration ends at 5:00 p.m. on July 10, but you can register in person on race day.

I’m already wary of this one because they can’t consistently refer to us as either Minnesota or Minneapolis, and they called us the “Flour City.” That’s just a pet peeve of mine. Have a clue about the place you’re visiting and make sure you have someone who knows better have input on your marketing materials. Anyhoo.

The field is limited to 500 teams. Cost is $60/person in advance, $70/person on race day. There are prizes. See also: Rules and FAQ.

Ragnar Relay Great River

I ran this race in 2006. It was the debut of this company’s third relay event and called the Great River Relay. It is seriously a lot of fun, but not something you sign up for on a lark. This year’s Ragnar Relay Great River runs Aug 21-22. Teams of 12 run 36 legs covering 205 miles from La Crosse, WI to Minneapolis.

“Running three legs during a 24-hour relay race is much easier than you think. Each team member runs three legs, ranging between 3 and 8 miles. This relay race is physically demanding, but legs vary in difficulty, and participants can choose which legs they run. This unique relay format makes the Great River an accessible race for beginners yet challenging enough for the most competitive.”

If you’re a casual runner who’s putting in 10-15 miles a week, you can totally do this race with a little focused preparation. If you’re planning on a fall marathon, you’ll have no problem doing this and it shouldn’t muck up your training schedule much.

It’s extremely well organized and they work hard to provide food, entertainment, and amenities along the way. One word of caution: make sure you like your teammates, because you’ll be spending a lot of time in close proximity with them and at times you’ll all be stinky and really tired. If you aren’t organizing or already part of a team, there are opportunities to find teams in need of runners.

Registration from now until July 15 is $1,380/team. Each local team is also required to provide three race volunteers. Proceeds from the race go to Ragnar Relay’s charity of choice, Operation Kids. OK is an umbrella organization that funnels funds to charities operating in the localities the races are run in. In MN and WI, those orgs are Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, and Action for Healthy Kids—Minnesota.

Great MN Race

This race will run on August 29.

“This exciting new race will take teams of two across the metro area of Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota. Teams will be solving clues and performing challenging tasks that are both mental and physical in nature.

The Great MN Race is unlike any race in the area, combining the fun elements of racing, solving clues, and completing tasks all while exploring the urban areas of the Twin Cities.

Unlike other races that have tried to mirror the ‘amazing’ hit reality TV show, the Great MN Race contains a number of unique elements associated with the race and its format. For more information see the Race Details page.”

Best I can tell, this is pretty similar to the Great Urban Race, except it’s locally organized. And there’s this: “One of the best parts of the Great MN Race is that there is no set course to follow or order in which challenges must be completed. This greatly eliminates race backups as experiences in other urban races. It is encourage to ask for help along the race or phone for help.” They want you to use performance-enhancing consumer electronics. If you have to pick one, do this one. Proceeds from the race will go to Urban Ventures.

Follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@GreatMNRace).

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