First Ragnar Trail relay is in the books and boy, was it an adventure! Notice I said, "first"...I had originally thought I was "one and done" with these things (as I am with the full marathon) however, I think I could enjoy another go of one. Definitely a fan of the trail version and not interested in a road Ragnar though (the thought of sleeping in a van horrifies me more than camping!). I think I need to wait til 2019 (or even 2020 ) though - not ready to train for another in 2018! Gotta let the paint dry on this one...So, here's a detailed recap of our adventure:
|Proof that I CAN camp!|
: 4 of us drove down to Richmond with all of the camping gear in order to set up our site and get checked in. This was a great plan because we were able to scout out a site and set up before the rest of the team arrived the following morning. Our start time was one of the earlier times on Friday (10am) so we didn't want to be worried about setting up camp and then running our first loops. We set up camp and watched the safety brief video. I checked us in and got our goody bag of stuff as well as our T-shirt tickets. Each person was able to hand in their ticket and choose their size t-shirt. I am not a t-shirt person but really like these. They are super soft and I actually slept in mine all weekend. Well, slept is a over-statement. I lay down and rested a bit in my sleeping bag! Which brings me to describe Thursday night's craziness. After having dinner from one of the food trucks in the village (it was delish - quinoa bowl of yumminess) the 4 of us tried to get to sleep. It was LOUD. People all around us were laughing and partying loudly until about 1am....then the RAIN and huge storm started! It was a deluge and quite a light show. I dozed off for a bit because the rain was soothing once it calmed a bit, but I think I only ended up getting a few hours of actual sleep that night. UGH! Let me tell you, I am NOT a camper so this just confirmed my lack of love for camping!
|Friday night dinner from the food trucks |
: We "woke up" around 630 and realized our tent had "taken on water". Luckily it was mostly in the area that we were not sleeping in but some of our bedding was wet and my friend Rachel, who was sleeping by the "door" of the tent had her stuff completely soaked. We used the one towel we had and some paper towels to kind of mop up and sweep out the water that we could as we frantically texted the other half of our team to PLEASE BRING TOWELS in order to help us clean up the rest and have a dry area for them to sleep! Our one friend had a box of old towels that they brought down and saved us from our soggy sleeping situation. Janet and I headed up to the village to get coffee in order to rally before our race started (as she was Runner #1 and I was #2).
|In the coffee line in Ragnar Village - we got some just before they ran out!!|
It had stopped raining and luckily we were able to hang out our things to dry in the sun and we all pitched in to put up the decorations I had made for our camp site. I had made "bios" of all of us to hang up in running order and we each used a Sharpie marker to check off our loop as we went.
We then set up some cool tables that Meg had bought and used some of the accessories that we had originally bought to make headbands in order to decorate around the camp. ( Note the crown "coasters" and fun pom-poms around the canopy.)
|Bio's hung on our canopy|
Friday 10AM - Our race started at 10am. As the captain, I had contacted the race director a month or so beforehand because I was concerned that we would not be able to finish in the allotted time. She assured me that they had things in place so that we could finish and that we would probably get one of the earlier start times. The earliest groups started at 8:30am and some of the faster groups did not start until 6pm!!! I was glad we started at 10am. I had made a print out (laminated of course) of the estimated times I thought we would each be running our loops so that we could roughly plan when we needed to be awake and ready for the the next runner to be in place. It worked out really nicely to have this and we were pretty on track with it within about 45 min.
|Janet (Runner 1) and Me (Runner 2) ready to go do our first loops!|
Ragnar 101: The way a Ragnar Relay works is that each person in your 8 person team does one of each loop. You go in order Green (easiest loop), Yellow (moderate) and Red (difficult) so that one of your team members is always running a loop within the allotted 24 hour time period. So Janet started with the Green loop and when she returned she handed the bib (which has a timing chip in it) off to me and I did the Yellow loop. When I returned from the Yellow, I handed off the bib to Rachel who did the Red loop....and so forth...all night long until the next afternoon. Cray!
|My first loop was yellow - you wore a slap bracelet on your wrist that correlated with color of the loop that you were running at the time. (The purple stamp showed that I had watched the safety briefing video.)|
To make matters more interesting and adventurous, because of the huge amount of rain and flooding that occurred, they had re-routed the already longer and harder loops (Yellow and Red) so we wouldn't have to go through knee-deep water...however, that meant that they were each almost a mile longer! The Green and Yellow loops were SUPER muddy and challenging. Especially at night. It was a MUD FEST! Those that did the yellow loop at night had a really difficult time of it - having to cross HUGE expanses in thick, deep mud. I heard people saying they lost their shoe in it! The trails were all really well marked and there really wasn't ever any time when I felt "lost". Anytime I was starting to feel anxious about maybe having made a wrong turn - I would see I an arrow (color coded for the trail you were on and at night lit up with an LED light in the color of your trail) and be reassured that I was in fact still on the correct trail. There were some tricky parts of the Yellow and I found it to be the most challenging of the trails. There was a part where I got help from another runner in order to cross a fast-moving stream. Thank you Jen!
|Yellow loop - you can see the marker to the right of the trail that is yellow and tells you the direction you should be running. Everything was very well-marked, even at night!|
|Finishing my first loop!|
In between running we had chance to chill at the campsite or around Ragnar Village (shopping!). There were several food trucks and all of my meals were so good. For lunch after my first run I had a savory Crepe and salad that was so tasty.
Friday Night: Before my night run (about 930 or 10pm) I was able to hang out in the village around the bonfire and have a s'more...which really hit the spot and was the perfect pick-me-up to have about an hour before my night loop. They had the fixin's (huge mounds of marshmellows, stacks of graham crackers and pre-cut Hershey bars) all ready to go and very organized! So good!
|S'mores give me LIFE!|
I was really nervous for my night run and had purposely chosen the green loop to do at night. It was supposed to be the least challenging and shortest of the loops. It was very muddy in parts (but not as bad as the yellow) so there were parts where my entire foot was submerged in mud along the way! Once I was out there and running the trail, I wasn't nervous anymore and really enjoyed it. There were so many night-sounds all around me and every so often I would see another runner (usually passing me) but for the most part it was so peaceful and beautiful. The sound of my breath, the crunch of my feet on the trail amidst sounds of croaking of frogs...the shadows that my headlamp would cast on the ground beside me and the almost-full moon would peek though the trees every now and then. It really was magical. My thoughts were vacillating between "this is so crazy" and "this is so cool" the entire time I was running that night loop. Words cannot fully describe it!
I was able to sleep very little that night also, since as captain I felt responsible for making sure everyone was up and out for the next leg of the race so I ended up waking up anytime another person came back from their loop in order to wake the next runner. I was ready to run my next (and last) loop in the morning way before I needed to be, but I just couldn't relax. I got up at about 445am and greeted Leslie as she came in from her night run. Janet and I got ready for our morning run and hung out together before she began her last loop.
|Janet and I - we looked rested but it's just a great filter on my phone! |
My final loop was the red loop - It was over 6 miles and I was so so tired. However, it was the most fun of all the loops. It had a lot of switchbacks and winding parts that were challenging yet fun. Also, it was the highest elevation so not as muddy as the other trails, therefore I was glad to have that as my last loop. I was also glad I that I was runner #2. As I was getting ready to run my loop there was an announcement that about 20 teams would be needing to double up on their last 3 loops in order to complete the race in time. One of those teams was US! We quickly got the word out to the rest of the team so they would be ready to run the last 3 loops paired up! Thank goodness we did that! (I think some of the teams didn't finish because they didn't realize or weren't paying attention when this was announced... therefore they received at DNF.) Thanks to Tara for getting the word out to our team! We all wore the shirts I had designed and met our final two runners at the finish in order to run across the finish as a team!
|So Epic! #WeAreRagnarians|
In summary, it was an EPIC weekend and although I had originally said "never again"...now I'm a "maybe next year"?! Most certainly with my BLURs...hopefully with no rain next time and most definitely GLAMPING with a COT!
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