Welch College of Business Team to Run in 198-Mile Ragnar Relay Race

News Story: May 1, 2011

They’ll be shedding their business attire for shorts, tees and running shoes come the morning of Friday, May 20th when the celebrated New England-based Ragnar Relay Race sends them into battle against other regional teams.

Calling themselves “It’s Business Time”, a group of 13 (12 runners and 1 alternate) from Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business, will participate in the Ragnar Relay Race Series’ 198-mile run from New Haven, CT, to Boston, MA. The Ragnar is the world’s largest relay series, with the New England event being one of 15 associated events held annually around the United States. This local series will occur over a 24-hour period, kicking off at 10 a.m. on Friday the 20th at Yale University and finishing up the following morning at Harvard University.

Sean Heffron, director of the Student Experience in SHU’s Welch College of Business (WCOB), is the team captain and recently provided some background about how the team was organized, its mission and preparation.

“Back in February, I put a call out to faculty and students who are runners in the WCOB looking to get our members to join and expand their experiences,” he said. “I had ten people sign up almost immediately and a full team organized within a week, along with one alternate.”

Heffron said that, from the start, he has been coordinating training sessions, securing vehicles, calculating race day logistics and working with team members to assign specific legs according to ability. Each team member will run three legs ranging in length from 3 to 8 miles varying in difficulty. Only one runner participates at a time and two vehicles are used to transport team members who will drive ahead to exchange points as a runner starts a leg. Overall, each runner will be responsible for between 12 and 20 miles.

“With all of our varied schedules, it has not been possible to train together, so we have all been doing that independently,” said Heffron. “We have met as a group on three occasions, essentially once a month, to talk about our progress with training, logistics, figuring out what to pack and making sure no one has any injuries.”

WCOB team members include alumni, an MBA student, undergraduates and even the Interim Dean of the College, Rupendra Paliwal, who is also providing the use of his minivan as one of the vehicles. The other vehicle will be a rental van. “We’re going to decorate these and give them names,” said Heffron. “We’ll be meeting next week to discuss that. We’ll also be discussing some course changes, which were a result of some major recent flooding along the race route. We need to be sure everyone is comfortable with their leg assignments.”

Heffron said his past experiences coordinating various school groups have been helpful with application to this event. “When I was at NYU, another coordinator and I organized a road trip that originated in Las Vegas, traveled to the Grand Canyon and Utah, and finished in Boulder, CO.,” he said.

The event serves a good cause, with all race registration fees being donated to “Back On My Feet,” an outreach program for homeless individuals that helps them regain their confidence and skills. The organization incorporates running into its rehabilitation program.

Besides the WCOB, three members of SHU’s Rotaract Club, the local chapter of the Rotary Club, will participate in the race, helping to direct traffic, announce runners, running times, and keeping the runners energized.

Heffron said the team is “definitely pumped” though frantically trying to get through their end-of-semester responsibilities at the same time. “They are really burned out by the end of the school year,” he said. “This will be about the potential of the body, as well as the mind, highlighting the endurance and spirit of our WCOB members. It’s a great tribute to the caliber of individual we have here. They’re always willing to go above and beyond.”