"Ragnar is the overnight running relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport.You and 11 of your craziest friends (or 5 of your crazier friends for an ultra team) pile into two vans and tag team running 200(ish) miles, day and night, relay-style."
I'm not really sure what part of it appealed to me most, but it definitely sounded like an experience that I would never forget... and I loved it!
My dad picked me up at 4:00am on Friday the 10th, and then I was participating in the Ragnar until he brought me back home at 5:00pm on Saturday the 11th (including the 2 hour drive home).
During that time I had three runs, and lots of time spent in the van or in my aunt's beach house in between our turn to run (which I was told was a very nice way to do the ragnar, compared to normal camping or just sleeping in the van).
My first run was at 5:50am or so. I ran 4.15 miles in 39:07. It was dark, but fun, and I got to chat with some of the other runners. This was a very uneventful leg of my journey. Then, I didn't run again until 6:45pm!
In between I cheered on my fellow runners, and we saw the start of "code 731." As with all relay races, when one runner finishes, the next runner is supposed to be there, waiting, ready to start their run. With a crazy relay race like ours, with van rides between spots, there is occasionally delays. But we saw one runner, runner from team 731, who arrived with no one there... and still no one after 10 minutes... 20 minutes, 30 minutes plus... and then our runner arrived, we made the switch, and we had to drive off to our next location. But our whole team was worried about this runner, and kept an eye out for their van.
We did see the van, about leg 6, of team 731, and felt reassured that they were reunited once more. But by this point, code 731 had become our way of reminding others to hurry to the next runner, because we didn't want any of our team to be "code 731" where they were wondering where the van and runners were.
My second leg, starting at 6:45 was a beautiful run, very scenic, and I got to see the sunset. But there was a problem... the sign that there was one mile left, at which point we text the team that we are a mile out... wasn't there. I waited to see if my garmin was wrong... but by the time I knew it was wrong, I could actually see the exchange point! So... I texted "almost there," not sure what else to write!
It wasn't a problem, my team was there (no code 731...yet), but I did so well, I actually was too fast for my dad to see me finish the leg. I ran 3.98 miles in 35 minutes, way better than my typical 10 minute mile pace. He arrived as I was walking away with vanmates back to the car.
Around this time, one teammate got a horribly bad migraine, to the point where she could barely sit up, much less run. Another teammate took her place for the night run, and we talked about me taking her next run if needed, in addition to my third leg, or switching runs (I had a shorter flat run, she had a longer hilly run).
We got to head back to the beachhouse after our second legs at 10:17pm, and I think I went to sleep about 11pm. We were planning on getting up and moving at 2:00am for our next set, but at 1:40am, we discovered that our other van was moving fast, and we needed to hurry to get there as their last runner had already taken off! So, we managed to take off from the house in just a few minutes, and made it to the exchange on time.
At this point, my not feeling great vanmate was feeling better, but on the fence about switching runs with me, or toughing it out, so I was prepping myself to run my leg (at 3 or so), and drinking coffee etc. But she eventually decided that it was in her best interest to switch and to make sure she didn't push herself past her limits (and agreed after her run that it was good to switch), so instead I had 4 more hours before my run started, and now I was wide awake. I made the best of it, and was able to see each team member's switch through the night.
My last leg started at a little bit before 8. It was cold outside, while not running, and as the sun wasn't too high yet... so I was wearing a running skirt and a long sleeved team shirt as I set off. This leg started with a half mile "warm up" before I started climbing the hill... for the next mile and a half! I went from sea level up to 450 feet of elevation! Not easy, but I pushed through, and even passed a number of people.
As you would expect, the running, plus the hill, plus the day getting warmer, I got hot... and though I hated to do it... I had to change to just my sports bra after I made it to the top. While I was working on the process of removing my shirt... a girl I passed on the hill caught up and passed me.
I wasn't about to let that go, so I got my pace back up, and passed her again. I stayed ahead of her until the last little stretch where I look over my shoulder... and there she is again! I couldn't let her pass me again... so we did a full blown sprint to the end of the leg. (So fun) But alas, her teammate was there, got the switch, and I was a code 731! (no teammates there!).
They got the text (code 731) and my exchange person was there quickly. Problem was, my sprint to the end threw them off, and they thought I had more time before I would be there based on my average mile time of the first few miles as compared to my quick 9 minute last mile. They were there on time... just a bit off and talking.
With that, our van was done, and we feasted on a well earned IHOP breakfast, and then had what I honestly consider the worst part of the whole race... waiting for van 2 to finish. I was done, ready to go home, ready to see my kids... but there were 6 runners still going on our team before we could all finish together. I did take another couple hour nap in the van, but for the most part, I was just bored, walking around or resting till we got runner 12 done.
On our way to the finish line... who should we see but runner 731! We talked to him, took his picture, explained our code in honor of him, and discovered what had happened. His team had gone to the next exchange, accidentally skipping his exchange. He didn't like to run with a cell phone, and didn't know his team's number anyways. But they were at the next stop, wondering what happened to him, and it took them a whole hour before everyone was reunited once more, with the help of the Ragnar volunteers. Anyways, crazy that we happened to see him and his team, with so many people around.
I was crazy tired that night, and I am still sore, but I still felt like it was a great experience and I do hope to do another Ragnar someday, possibly in another state!