This race almost didn’t happen for me, but I’m so glad it did! My friend, Julie, registered us as a team many months ago and I had been looking forward to it all year. A few weeks ago when my knee was giving me problems, I told the team that I was going to have to bail on them. But then it occurred to me that I could at least go and run one or two legs and still have all the fun. So I told them that if they didn’t find an 8th person to replace me, I would still go, but someone might have to pick up an extra leg or two if my knee started to hurt. And luckily for me, they didn’t find a replacement, so I was back on the team!
Campgrounds on the right, trails on the left
As is the case with a lot of relay teams, we all came together randomly – someone knew someone and that person knew someone, etc. So nobody there knew everyone on the team – but sometimes it’s more fun that way because then you leave with new friends.
The team in front of our camping site
As opposed to the regular Ragnar races that consist of 12 people per team, the Ragnar Trail teams consist of 8 people (or 4 for ultra teams). Instead of roads, you run on trails; Instead of vans, you hang out at the campsite; and instead of sleeping in a parking lot, you sleep in a tent. Plus, you get to hang out with and get to know your entire team and not just the ones in your van.
The team getting ready to start
Our team started at 1:00 on Friday and I was runner #6, which meant my first run (7.6 miles) started around 7 pm. I was hoping to be lucky enough to run during sunset, but I just missed it, so my first run was in total darkness. There was a full moon that night, though, so the trails were beautifully lit by the moonlight. This would prove to be very beneficial since my headlamp was completely useless. I failed to test it before starting my run (big mistake!) so I had to run a lot slower than normal and concentrate really hard on every footstep. My goal was no rolled ankles or falls and I was successful at both!
I just love this photo of Kristy Marie running through the finishing arch at the exchange!
After my first run, it was dinnertime! Dinner was included in the registration price and was actually very good – it was pasta, salad, a roll, and a cookie. There was also a beer truck there with 4 different beers on tap, so I had a beer with my dinner, which tasted so good after that run! Then it was time to try to get some sleep before my next run in the middle of the night. And despite our campsite neighbors playing death metal music at high volume, I was able to get about 2 hours of sleep before I was woken up for my next leg.
My second run (at 3 am) was 4.3 miles on a trail that was slightly more hilly and technical than the first. But this time I took a different headlamp – one that I tested before I went and that actually worked. It’s amazing what difference a good headlamp can make! Again, I made it through the run with no rolled ankles or falls – success! When I got back to the campsite, I had some chocolate milk and a Picky Bar and then went straight back to bed. As tempting as the s’mores by the bonfire were, I knew my body would be happier with sleep. I got about 2 more hours of sleep before I was woken up by the music of our camping neighbors around 7 am.
Elena, Kristy Marie, and Me
My third and final leg, 4.6 miles, started around 1:00 in the afternoon on Saturday and even though it was hot, it was daylight, which meant I could see the trail and the scenery around me – which I much preferred to the night legs. There were rumors of rattlesnakes out on the trails, but I was fortunate enough to not see any.
Running through to the exchange on my last leg
So, yes – I ran all three legs! My knee started to act up at the end of my first two legs, but I iced, stretched, and massaged and it was fine. By the third leg, I felt great and I had my best run of them all. Both knees are a little sore today, but some rest and ice should do the trick.
How I spent my down time
I really have to hand it to Ragnar – they put on an amazing, well-organized event! There were a lot of details that went into this race and it was clear how hard they worked and how passionate they were about making the event a success. Everything from the yoga sessions to massage therapists to endless s’mores, coffee, and hot chocolate to the big screen movie (which, sadly I missed) to the beer truck and all the way to the eco-friendly port-o-potties (instead of chemicals, they use sawdust – they were big, clean, and didn’t smell bad) was perfect.
It was a great time had by all. I left with some new friends and got to catch up with old ones. As an added bonus, some of my Oiselle teammates were in town for the race, so I got to hang out with them, too!
Sophia, Me, Megan, and Paulette
Ayesha, Paulette, Sophia, Kerry, and Me at a dinner meet-up post race