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Ragnar organizers criticized for mess left by some racers

Published: Thursday, July 3 2014 10:52 p.m. MDT

Ogden Valley residents are complaining about trash left over from the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back race. A race official rode along the route to inspect the trash and has said race staff are taking the complaints seriously.

Bryan Smith

LIBERTY, Weber County — Nearly a week after the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back race, complaints are coming in that trash from the event is still around.

Signs from the race are still up and pieces of trash have not been picked up. While cleanup efforts do happen after the race, some residents are concerned that it may not be enough

There are no huge piles of garbage, but there’s enough trash that it concerns Eden homeowner Bryan Smith. He found signs, water bottles and some team shirts.

“I also found stuff that was left over from some people’s lunches, yogurt cups, things like that,” Smith said. "This year, I just got a little frustrated with what I was witnessing and decided to document some of it.”

He took a few pictures and cleaned up what he could on his way out of town Wednesday. As owner of Only In Ogden, a shop and local entertainment blog, pictures he posted online drew some attention. Others chimed in with similar complaints.

"I don't think that's how people should respect other people's neighborhoods when they're in them,” Smith said. “I’m not alone in this. I’ve talked to a lot of people in my community that have exactly the same experience.”

While more than 1,000 volunteers helped pick up trash after the event, a small group made another sweep down the route Thursday. Some relay workers picked up what they could along a stretch of road between Liberty and Snowbasin.

"We got out here as quickly as we could to see what was going on,” Ragnar Vice President of marketing Rick Larsen said. He rode along the route Thursday to investigate claims that garbage from Ragnar runners was still there.

"There's so many people out, it was surprising, and it was surprising, too, that we didn't start hearing them until the last 24 hours,” Larsen said.

Organizers scanned the area with trash bags in hand.

"Actually, it looks pretty good,” Larsen said. “Our event covers a lot of ground and a lot of miles to police, and as we've driven the course through Ogden Valley, we found a couple of bottles, but for the most part it looks like the crew did their job."

Still, he said, officials are taking the complaints seriously.

"We stage 22 overnight relays around the country,” Larsen said. “There is always room to improve. We're always in dialog with our communities."

Ragnar organizers plan to meet with Smith to discuss future improvements.

“My biggest hope in this is to see that there’s a strong desire to leave a community in better shape than it was before the event,” Smith said. “We need those events, and I applaud the people that volunteer their time, their passion and energy to make it happen.”

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com

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