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Identifying with 'WTF'

Huntington Beach to Coronado Island race encourages personality in participants, their transportation and their team names — all for charity's sake.

April 13, 2011|By Michael Miller, michael.miller@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer )

When Shurla Quinn competes Friday in the Ragnar Relay Southern California, she won't be surprised if a few people look at her and exclaim, "WTF?"

That won't be the uncensored version of "WTF," of course. Just the three letters.

Quinn, a team member for the Training Spot in Huntington Beach, plans to run for the third year in a row in the 200-mile relay from Surf City to Coronado Island. As a tradition, Ragnar Relay teams often don costumes or other outrageous garb, but there may be none more eye-catching than the slogan Quinn created for her team last year.

For the record, that slogan is "Witness the Fitness." The 12 runners from the Training Spot, a small gym at 440 Main St., will run the course Friday and Saturday with bright orange T-shirts that feature those words in small print — and the initials "WTF" in much larger font above.

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"They love that," said Quinn, who got the idea from texting with her children. "They can say 'WTF' without the bad word attached to it."

The Ragnar Relay, now in its third year, invites teams to compete in both fitness and weirdness. In addition to honoring the top finishers, the event offers prizes for best costumes, best-decorated vehicle, best team name and other categories.

"It definitely is an identity theme," said spokeswoman Christi Phillips. "People really take advantage of that, especially with decorating their vans and everything. It makes it more fun because it is such a strenuous event."

The first two years of the race, Phillips said, runners competed in Viking helmets, kilts and superhero costumes, among other things. Still, she had no trouble naming her favorite.

"My favorite one was the one where they were running in their underwear," she said. "That was a classic that kind of stands out."

For all its frivolity, though, the Ragnar Relay has a serious mission. The event raises funds for a charity each year, and Friday's race will benefit Team in Training, a sports charity that supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The relay invites 12-member teams to run a course that begins in Huntington Beach and winds through the mountains and down the coast before finishing in Coronado. According to Phillips, this year's competition will include 157 Huntington Beach residents, plus 14 from Fountain Valley, 59 from Costa Mesa, 28 from Irvine, 63 from Newport Beach and 11 from Laguna Beach.

One member of each team runs at a time, with the others riding along in vans. The entire race is expected to take slightly over 24 hours, but Paul Fetters, a member of the Training Spot's team, said most runners would spend their off-hours cheering rather than napping.

"Most people don't sleep in between," he said. "They want the excitement of cheering for their teammates."

If You Go

What: Ragnar Relay Southern California

Where: Huntington City Beach, 22 Huntington St.

When: Teams take off between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday

Cost: Free for spectators (registration has closed)

Information: http://www.ragnarrelay.com/race/southerncalifornia

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