“It’s a Rough Road that leads to Greatness.”-Seneca
Running the last mile of the Dogwood Canyon 50k 2012
12 years ago a family member asked me if I would you like to run 200 miles through the mountains of Utah with a team of 12? “Heck yea,” I answered without any hesitation. I loved running and getting to do it as a team across the beautiful Rocky Mountains seemed like an incredible opportunity.
As it turned out, I only knew one person on the team. The experience of running 24 hours with strangers, day and night through some of the most intense terrain, proved to be life-changing. My last leg was called, “You gotta be kidding me.” I was definitely thinking that along with a few other expletives as I ran straight up a ski mountain to the last named leg, “Ragnar.”
I pushed myself harder than I ever had, facing many fears such as running 6 miles through the mountains at 3 am knowing there were mountain lions out there and they feed at night. But I had my team, most of whom began as strangers but quickly became friends. My confidence grew as I faced new challenges and learned what it meant to push myself beyond my comfort zone. I learned I could accomplish anything and the value of camaraderie as each one of our 12-member team worked together to accomplish our goal.
Two years later, this Idaho girl ended up in Arkansas. I immediately wanted to bring something like this Ragnar race to the Natural state, but with all the curvy roads without much shoulder, it seemed impossible to do safely. I went to graduate school as a single mom and despite my crazy life, I couldn’t let the idea go.
I knew that I could never create Outback in the Ozarks alone. When I met my husband Todd, I shared the idea with him and he loved it. He said he would do everything necessary to make it happen. I don’t think either one of us knew just how difficult this goal would be to accomplish.
Safety was our top priority. We learned early on that the only way we could do it safely was to find the most remote roads with low traffic. It took hundreds of hours driving through forest service areas and country roads in order to find what we considered the safest course, in the sense that there was limited traffic.
We wanted to make Outback in the Ozarks the most unique and challenging course out there. I believe we accomplished both by connecting our race through 5 beautiful State Parks and running it through the Ozark mountains.
So how did this Idaho girl get here? I grew up with four brothers and two sisters but it was my brothers who shaped me into the tomboy and athlete I became.
I would spend hours creating “obstacle courses” which would involve running and swimming with my brothers. Running those courses and laughing so hard we thought we would drown in our pool are some of my most cherished memories.
I ran track throughout high school, went to college, married, had four children and started trail running to deal with the stresses associated with supporting my husband though medical school and residency training, a painful divorce and single motherhood. Running through the woods is my heaven. It’s the place I go for peace and to solve all my problems.
So, if you find our course a little rural and out in the woods with lots of forest service and gravel roads, that’s why. I believe anyone can go out and run a 5k with crowds cheering them on. It takes extreme courage and grit to run under the stars through the woods with only a headlight and your team there to support you.
Whether you’re a walker or an elite runner, our course has something any nature lover could want. Is it hilly? Yes. Is it smooth? NO! But as we like to say in the Outback, “It’s not the mountains we conquer but ourselves.” If you run our course, I believe your confidence will grow and you will come to believe you can conquer anything. I look forward to seeing you in the Outback!
Kimberlee Relyea-Guin, Race Director