Sprained ankles, a trip to the emergency room and mild dehydration were not enough to stop 12 dedicated Pratt & Whitney employees, dubbed the Pratt & Whitney Afterburners, from completing the 2018 Ragnar Relay in New Hampshire last month. The Ragnar “Reach the Beach” Relay is a 203-mile continuous race in which team members each run three legs of varying distances to complete the course.
This year, the race served as a redemption tour for the team. In 2017, the Pratt & Whitney Afterburners finished second in the men’s corporate division (made up of co-ed teams with less than six females) with a time of 25 hours and 45 minutes. This year, the runners had extra motivation as they were raising money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation of Connecticut in honor of Katie Sevigny, a member of Pratt & Whitney’s Legal team who passed away from breast cancer in March 2018.
“Running a Ragnar was an idea sparked by our late colleague Katie Sevigny. Even with her diagnosis, Katie wanted to participate in this very challenging, yet rewarding race,” reflected Raja Maharajh, vice president and general counsel, Pratt & Whitney. “Unfortunately, when the time came for the Ragnar race last year, Katie was not physically strong enough to participate. Our team did what every great team does; we stepped up and fought in her honor last year. This year our team continued her fight, this journey, in Katie’s memory.”
The team began its journey in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14 with two vans of six team members each. Each van provided runner support, allowing the team to shout words of encouragement and offer water or Gatorade to the Pratt & Whitney runner on the course. The van was also responsible for transporting each consecutive runner to the exchange zone for the next leg of the relay. On top of managing these tricky logistics, runners had to properly recover between their runs by trying to sleep during downtimes and refuel with prepared foods.
“With last year's experience under our belts, the team was more prepared for the race this year,” said Alicia Perrault, vice president and counsel for Commercial Engines Contracts. “But it was not without its challenges – the hilly miles at midnight, attempting to sleep in a van with five other people and mustering up the energy to race the last leg. It was inspiring to watch everyone push themselves to run faster than last year and compete with elite teams like New Balance. I am very proud of the entire team.”
The runners demonstrated terrific teamwork and dug deep to win the overall corporate division (male, female and mixed corporate teams), reaching Hampton Beach State Park in Hampton, New Hampshire, in 24 hours and 15 minutes, improving their 2017 time by an hour and a half. In addition, the team moved up 14 places in the overall standings from 2017 to finish tenth overall out of more than 450 teams!
For perspective, the team averaged 7 minutes, 12 seconds per mile for 203 miles – not too shabby! Best of all, with the help of generous donations and the UTC match program, the Pratt & Whitney Afterburners will raise almost $5,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation of Connecticut.
For those who still want to donate, the Pratt & Whitney Afterburners site is still going strong and accepting donations! Click here to contribute.