A Ragnar Trail relay race is already tough. Normally, runners must overcome the physical and mental challenge of running 100 miles or more as a team over 24 hours. A Ragnar in 2020, however, adds even more challenges, with social distancing and other restrictions from COVID-19 to consider. With many of the official Ragnar events cancelled around the country, that means those looking to run it alone have no food and water stops and no beer tent for the exhausted participants too look forward to at the end of their lap. The normally comfortable accommodations available to runners when they’re not on the trail in are nowhere to be found.

Still, even with these tough conditions, some of the most dedicated runners of the annual Ragnar for Research will still be hitting the trail this year. The Ragnar for Research normally includes teams in relay races across the country, raising money for our essential research at the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). Even with many of these races being cancelled, some teams are choosing to recreate the challenges of a Ragnar race on their own while continuing their fundraising efforts.

One of these teams is organizing their own small-scale, socially distant Ragnar in the hills outside of San Antonio, Texas. The team of eight runners will run the same course normally covered by the Texas Ragnar Trail Run, but they will be providing their own supplies, tracking their own time, and using their own camping gear, rather than the luxurious “glamping” tents normally provided by the race.

“There’s lots of changes and opportunities to improvise adapt and overcome,” says Auburn Rose, one of the team’s leaders. “It will be different and not as ‘glamping’ as last year, but the goal is the same: raising funds to find a cure.”

Auburn runs this race in memory of his brother Carnell Rose, who passed from ALS in in 2017. Despite all of the challenges of trying to safely put together a fundraiser during a pandemic, he knew the funds raised by Ragnar for Research are important for research at ALS TDI, and he needed to find a way to keep the race going in some form.

“My concern is that we use events to raise money needed to support the cause,” he says “[With the cancellation of many in-person events] this could be a major set-back. So, we need to continue to do what we can to keep the scientist in the lab.”

Those close by who are interested in running the unofficial course with the team can sign up to join them. But there are ways to support the runners from afar. Supporters can contribute to their fundraiser for ALS TDI or pay a fee to “dedicate a mile” of their run in honor of, or in memory of, a loved one whose life was affected by ALS.

“How can you help with this year’s Relay?” says Auburn. “You can pray for us, donate, sponsor a mile or even just give to ALS TDI. ALS didn’t slow down and neither should research for a cure.”

Click here to learn more and support the Virtual Ragnar Texas Trail. To learn more about Ragnar for Research events, click here.