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The City Journals

Road to Ragnar: South Jordan team plans to bring it

May 21, 2018 02:36PM ● By Keyra Kristoffersen

Loleini Ta'ai, Ema Tualau, Ofa Tavake, Va Mo'unga and Trini Kinikini prepare to run their hearts out at the Utah Ragnar relay(Trini Kinikini)

By Keyra Kristoffersen | [email protected] 

South Jordan is home to the newest Ragnar race team, the Back Row Divas, a group of friends who started training at Vasa Fitness to lose weight and get healthy as a New Year's resolution., Now, the group plans to take on one of the toughest races in Utah in June 2018. 

"I can't even remember who came up with the idea; we were all just like 'hey, yeah that's on our bucket list'," said Trini Kinikini, Daybreak resident and team captain. 

Kinikini used to run in college and before she was married. She recently began a healthier lifestyle with her friends who got their team name because they would always be in the back row of their fitness classes enjoying themselves and their own routines rather than following their instructor. After running the Gold Rush 5K as part of the SoJo Race Series, Kinikini felt it had gone over much easier than expected, and the team signed up for the Earth Day 10K. From there, they felt it was a natural progression to create a 12-person team for the Reebok Ragnar Wasatch Back relay. 

"We knew we wanted to do a 12-person race, so we started finding people who run who like to run," said Kinikini. Some of these people were her nieces, who are runners and friends who recently began running again after a hiatus.

"We have three different groups that have been running on their own, but we also do endurance together on the weekends," said Kinikini, "We're trying to dedicate at least two times a week for running in the morning, evening and next morning just to prepare." 

They've also been working with Ngata Tavake, a team member’s husband who is a power lifting coach, and one of the other teammates is a nurse practitioner and has been helping with diet. 

The Ragnar Relay began in 2004 as an overnight 24-hour-plus relay over the 188 miles of mountains between Logan and Park City and is now the largest overnight relay race in the United States, stretching over 200 miles from Logan to Kamas. 

Each member of the team will run three legs of around 15 miles each. Since the terrain is so varied, each person's training is individualized for going uphill or downhill as well as working on the sheer endurance for length of running time.

"One of our friends actually lives down in Saratoga Springs, so she's been running up the Y for her incline part," said Kinikini. "We've been running up and down the hills to Oquirrh Mountain Temple, and some of the legs are declines, so their training is different."

Along with endurance training to complete the race, the Divas have been working hard to raise the money required to compete in the race. While the entrance fees were split 12 ways, a lot of being part of Ragnar is the logistics of running a team from Logan to Kamas. Each team must supply its own travel vans and safety equipment, in addition to hotel rooms, food and travel. Thanks to team member contacts, deals were struck for the vans, hotel rooms, headlamps and tail lights, but further costs necessitated that the team raise funds by holding a bake sale in the hopes of raising the $1,590 that the team estimated.

"We decided to do a bake sale and see what we could raise to help cover the cost," said Kinikini, "We actually got a lot the pre-orders already, which is exciting."

A friend in South Jordan offered her home as a base of operations where customers could come and pick up their baked goods on May 5. The team raised $790 at the end of the day, selling out all of the breads and cookies prepared.

"I love that this started because a lot of us have lost a lot of weight at the beginning of the year," Kinikini said. "I run, but I don't have a fast pace; I try my best."

Kinikini also said several of the team members plan on participating in a half-marathon this summer once Ragnar is over.