We Rocked Ragnar!
I just participated in my first relay, the Ragnar Washington DC! I'd been interested in doing a Ragnar ever since I first heard about it. The Ragnar is a 200 mile, 12 person relay that runs over the course of two days and one night. Each person runs three separate legs of the relay and also helps support the other runners on the team. What a unique and fun experience it was!
Our team captain Charli asked me to join the team a couple months ago, and I jumped on the chance. I wasn't sure when I'd have the opportunity to do a Ragnar, since I knew I didn't have the time to organize it myself. I met Charli, her husband Coco and friend Stacey at the Delaware Marathon Maniac dinner in May, so I knew they'd be a good group to run with. I helped recruit my friends Matt and Megan, both members of the Shirlington Running Club. Everyone else was a stranger, but really, we couldn't have asked for a better team. I was in Van 1 with Charli, Stacey, Matt, Karen and Cathy. Karen is also a Maniac, and Cathy should be. It was Matt's first race, but he jumped in with two feet and volunteered to run the most challenging leg of the race, which earned him a belt buckle!
Charli was kind enough to assign me as Runner #1, and we started near Cumberland, MD. The Runner #1 legs were overall the easiest/shortest of the 12 runners. I needed this position because I was planning to do a double marathon the previous week (which I did, and during which I was injured). My first leg was almost 5 miles of a technical trail around a lake. I had to watch my footing to ensure that I didn't twist an ankle or trip on a root. It was a good thing I'd done some recent trail running as training (see my previous blog post, where I skinned my knees during a trail run). Even though my calf was hurt from the week before, I managed to keep up a decent, but careful pace on this wooded trail. The view of fog coming off the post-dawn lake was gorgeous, and there was plenty of light to see by in the woods. I was lucky to be part of the 7:00 AM start. Had I started with an earlier wave, I'd have been running that trail in the dark and would certainly have come out of it with another bloody knee or worse. I don't know HOW anyone could do that leg in the dark, even with a headlamp.
After a few exchanges, our team got the hang of Ragnar. We'd drop off a runner, pick up their predecessor, then hop back in the van and drive to the next exchange. Some of the larger exchanges, between Vans 1 and 2, had food or festivities. We picnicked and napped on the lawn of a high school at one exchange, and we had 2:00 AM ice cream at a local creamery at another. We saw many of the same vans from other teams. Most teams got very creative with their themes and decorated their vans accordingly. Our team was no exception. We took our Game of Thrones theme very seriously and each adopted a persona from the story. Our vans reflected a mix of the scary, the medieval, and a little humor.
With Ragnar, you get little sleep, you get little good nutrition, you get little in the way of creature comforts at all (imagine not being able to shower after each of your three sweaty legs, which are HOURS apart). But you do get lots of adventure, camaraderie, and good old fun. That is, if you get along with your teammates. I've heard stories about dysfunctional teams, but I'm happy to say that ours was awesome! I've also got to give a shout out to our fabulous volunteers. Each local Ragnar team was required to recruit three volunteers. Pam, Kim and Becky took care of us. Thanks, ladies!
|Team "The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors" at the National Harbor after finishing. Seated: Sandy, Megan, Cathy, Charli, Karen, Jazz. Standing: Stacey, Coco, Matt, Yang, Heather, Pam, Tera|
|I handed off to Cathy at the end of Leg 1 at Maryland's Rocky Gap State Park|
|Van 1: Cathy, Charli, Sandy, Matt, Stacey, Karen - wearing our required night gear|
|Here's the team minus Heather, who was running - still early, we're still mostly fresh and alert!|
|Van 1 decorations - Matt was in charge of securing Ned to the antenna|
|Van 2 made use of Yang's artistic talents - plus a rubber severed head never hurts|
|Charging the finish line as one unified team (I'm somewhere in the back picking up Stacey's dropped cell phone)|