Now that I have had a couple weeks to fully take in and think about my experience running the Ragnar Relay, it’s time to share!
For those of you who do not know what the Ragnar Relay is, it is a 200 mile relay race, split up between 12 people (6 people if you’re really ambitious and are running the ultra distance) in one or two vans depending on your preference. Each of the runners runs three legs of various distances ranging between three and ten miles. My legs were 8.2, 3.8 and 5.2 miles, for a total of 17.2 miles. You run all through the day and all through the night as a team.
We started in Winona, MN and ended in Minneapolis, MN… and it was no straight shot by any means.
We wound up into the hills and dirt roads of small towns. About half of the race was run in areas like this and the other half was run on the side of highways. Since the course is 200 miles long, there are major transition points along the way where Van 1 and Van 2 will meet. Not being able to be together as a whole team was probably the most disappointing part. This was the first time running this race for everyone on our team, so I don’t think we expected that for some reason.
When my van of ladies wasn’t running we posed for photo opps…
And slept in local high school gymnasiums. The fact that some of the local high schools opened up their schools for us was pretty cool. The schools used this opportunity as a fundraiser and offered sleeping space, food, showers, and liquids. Don’t be fooled though, these schools were only at some the major exchange points, major exchange points were at leg 6, 12, 18, 24, and 30. At the smaller exchange points there was pretty much just Ragnar staff, sometimes a port-o-potty, and if you are lucky the exchange might be in a town big enough to have a Kwik Trip with real bathrooms.
Our team name was Afraid of the Dark, as you may have gathered from the awesome sign above that one of our friends made for our team. Our name pin points the one thing that our team was most worried about…running in the dark! I got pretty lucky and my “night” runs were as the sun was setting and rising, so they really were not dark for the whole time. In hind sight I wish I would have experienced a real night run, because everyone n my van said it was their favorite leg to run. During our night runs, runners were required to wear a reflective vest, a blinking tail light and a headlamp, or if you’re me a belly lamp because I wasn’t too keen on wearing it on my head…safety first!
Note the skirt. Our whole team got skirts, I did not think I would like them…but I LOVE them! So cute and fun to run in!
Teams had staggered starting times throughout the day on Friday, our start time was 9:30 am (awesome start time by the way). Our total running time was about 32 hours! We ended up being about 40 minutes behind our projected time, based on the paces that each of us entered at registration. Not too bad for a bunch of beginners running what is claimed to be the toughest Ragnar Relay course in the series.
The medals were awesome! In case you didn’t notice, it doubles as a bottle opener…welcome to the midwest!
After letting things sink in and forgetting about some of the more challenging aspects of the race… timing your fueling, bathroom breaks, chaffing, stinking, bearing the heat, sitting in a van or sitting around for hours and then getting back up to run…almost all of the ladies on the team said they would do it again! Most of them said they would like to do the Chicago relay next though, Chicago = flatter than our course.
I knew from the second we finished that I would do another Ragnar or relay race again in a heart beat! The hardest thing for me was sitting in the van a lot, other than that I enjoyed the experience SO much!
Have you ever run a Ragnar or relay race?
What is your favorite Ragnar Relay Series course?