(for Sacred Heart University)
By Mike Lauterborn
Fairfield, CT – They’ll be shedding their business attire for shorts, tees and running shoes come the morning of May 20 when the celebrated New England-based race sends them into battle against other regional teams.
Calling themselves “It’s Business Time”, a group of 12, plus one alternate, from Sacred Heart University’s John F. Welch College of Business will participate in the Ragnar Relay Race Series’ 198-mile New Haven to Boston run. 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 the following morning at Harvard College.
Sean Heffron, Director of the Student Experience in SHU’s College of Business, 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 that are runners in the College of Business, looking to get our members to join and expand their experiences,” he said. “I had 10 people sign up almost immediately and a full team organized within a week, along with one alternate. The latter is a student that was originally a starter, but who was on a recent Habitat for Humanity project and injured by a falling hammer. We didn’t want him subjected to rigorous training given that he had suffered a concussion.”
Heffron said that, from the start, he has been coordinating training sessions, securing vehicles, calculating race day logistics and assigning team members to specific legs according to ability. Each team member will run three legs with a leg 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, which go 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, but that was to talk about progress, work out logistics, see how training is going, figure out what to pack and bring, make sure no one has any injuries and discuss vehicle plans.”
College of Business team members include alumni, a Masters student, undergraduates and even the dean of the department, 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 has 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, Colorado. It’s all about logistics,” 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 College of Business, 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 and running times, and keep 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 College of Business members. It’s a great tribute to the caliber of individual we have here. They’re always willing to go above and beyond.”