200-Mile Ragnar Relay Kicks Off in Coconut Grove

This morning, gluttons for punishment gathered by the thousands in everything from tutus to princess crowns (dudes included) to kick off the annual Ragnar Relay Florida Keys. This epic journey is a 200-mile foot race from Coconut Grove to Key West where participants run all night sans showers, sleep, or (arguably) sanity.

Our beer-drinking, football-watching, couch potatoing weekend hasn't even begun - and after seeing these folks, we're already nursing a guilt complex about our lazy ways.

See also:

- Glow Run 5K Miami

- Run For Your Life

The ragtag (or Ragnar, ha) crew consists of more than 5,000 runners from 47 states, two Canadian provinces, the Virgin Islands and London, and the whole shebang is run by Utah-based Ragnar Events, LLC, the largest overnight running relay series in the U.S.

Essentially, the race is run in teams of 12, and each member has a pre-determined number of legs of varying length, depending on ability. We spotted teams dubbed the Cave Men, Kick Me, and Wastin' Away Again in Ragnaritaville, to name a few.

The journey began at the Coconut Grove Convention Center at the crack of dawn today, and will finish up at the Southernmost Hotel & Resort in Key West tomorrow. As the baton was passed on Bayshore Drive's sidewalk, teammates stood by hooting and hollering, some with cardboard cutouts of fellow runners.

Costumes and craziness are all part of the Ragnar experience. That, and a lack of sleep. They run all night long, thanks to headlamps and vests.

"The mantra of Ragnar is 'eat, sleep, run, repeat,' with a question mark beside sleep. You really don't get any sleep because you have to keep moving ahead and getting the next person off the road and get 'em sort of washed down, hosed down, and get down and move to the next place," says Shawn Parker, a computer network administrator and spin instructor who's on his second Ragnar relay.

Given that it's a 36-hour adventure, we'd imagine the inside of those vans gets pretty ripe on day two.

Audio video systems expert Juan Rivera (of team Mixed Nuts 269) is on his fifth such relay. Despite the lack of sleep, he digs the experience.

"We enjoy the night running. It's nice and cool, it's quiet; there's aren't any cars around," Rivera says. "Your third leg is hard, you're really tired, you haven't slept like maybe three or four hours, its starting to get to you but at the same time you're starting to get the enjoyment of arriving there and the enthusiasm of all the people."

And, by the way, for all the singles out there -- there were plenty of hotties of both sexes, so you might wanna skip the bar scene and sign up for some races instead.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.