What the hell is Ragnar? I realized that just because people have been hearing me talk (and blog and tweet and Facebook) about Ragnar for a year that doesn’t mean people know what it is or what I am about to embark on. In a nutshell, it is a relay race from Logan to Park City, UT: one hundred ninety one miles, run by twelve runners over a forty eight hour period. The twelve runners are split into two vans and each runner runs three different times. Each leg of the relay is assigned so if I’m runner one (which I just so happen to be), I run legs one, thirteen and twenty five. The motto of the race is: Run, Drive, Sleep, Repeat. The original race of the Ragnar Relay Series is the Wasatch Back here in Utah but they have them all over the country now. So you know it has to be fun, right?
It’s amazing to me that Ragnar is actually here. I started talking about doing a Ragnar Relay years ago. The first year, I wasn’t ready as a runner to even run the distance of one of the legs but it sounded so fun I said “next year” and vowed to train hard. Then I got pregnant and missed the next year. The following year I didn’t think I’d have enough time to recover from childbirth and train for Ragnar in five months so I said “next year” yet again.
“Next year” arrived last summer – the summer of 2010. My adorable running fool of a cousin starts talking about Ragnar at the yearly family reunion every summer because she has just finished a few months before. Last year was only different in one way: I was finally capable (and ready and willing) to join in the fun. So we decided to get a team together. Between the two of us we were sure we could find ten other runners if each of us focused on filling a van with our fellow running buddies. Since both of our husbands are also runners, that left only four people for each of us to find and get committed. Registration is in August so we had a couple of months.
Early August arrived and I had my runners but she had complications – namely of the conflict variety. See, she’s done this several years and is a very strong runner having done a full marathon last year. There was a team at her work and they really wanted her – and they had a lot of money and sponsors which we wouldn’t have which I admit would have been super enticing for me. She also did not want to be a team captain – adamantly did not want to be the captain. I assured her I didn’t feel bad that she wanted to join the team at work with all her friends (and sponsors!) and said I’d just get my own team together.
I should have listened to her vehement objection to being the captain but what did I know then?
So, I talked to everyone I know and all of their friends and put together a team of twelve committed runners who had paid me their portion of the team registration and even got in before the early registration (aka discount period) was over. Two days before regular registration even began, our team “Run Piggies Run” had a team number and a spot in the Wasatch Back 2011. They allow 1050 teams and we were team number 1048. Yes, you read that correctly. The race sold out two days before early registration was over. It got me all excited that we got in and I started planning and thinking about logistics.
And then the one person who hadn’t paid me but assured me they would backed out and I was already trying to find someone else to take their place. Luckily, one of my running friend’s team from the previous year didn’t get registered in time so she was available and filled the spot quickly. That was the beginning of a string of substitutions that resulted in five of the twelve original team members replaced since then. We had one drop out due to injury, one got a super exciting internship for the summer in D.C., one had a conflict with scouting and one had a sister who got married and had the nerve to schedule her wedding on Ragnar weekend. Oh, and my friend who ran last year who’s team didn’t get in? They registered wait list and got in a few weeks ago. Luckily I have three neighbors I successfully talked into joining the insanity and my good friend Diyeana talked her sister in law and new boss into last minute substitutions. The craziest part for me is that I have still not even met two of my teammates – one of which will be in my van for a thirty six hour stinkfest.
Since August I have exercised my project management skills so much that I should have been getting paid to do it. Twelve adults who live all over the place with crazy schedules were assembled for planning meetings twice and every logistical possibility planned for. Countless emails were exchanged keeping us all on the same page and preparing all of us for our very first Ragnar (with the exception of one who did Ragnar Vegas last October and who I couldn’t have done it without.) All this while I was doing all the other insane things I always do AND running twenty miles a week on average for the past twenty weeks. And all of the planning and training culminates tomorrow as we embark on our Ragnar journey.
On top of all our team logistics we’ve had record late snowfall in Utah and it was only today, two days before race day, that we got the official word that the roads on the two passes through the mountains had been cleared of snow and would be drivable. As much stress as I’ve had coordinating my little team of twelve could you imagine having to work out logistics for the entire race? Think about it – one thousand fifty teams of twelve runners and you’re talking over twelve thousand runners. Hubby and I drove parts of the course over Memorial Day and if nothing else I’m looking forward to running through some beautiful country. Thank god we didn’t have to add more mileage to anyone’s runs to go around the mountain passes that were still closed due to snow!
We leave tomorrow evening to drive the two hours to where the race starts to hopefully get some sleep at a hotel so we can be at the starting line by 5:00AM on Friday morning. I’m the first runner out of the gate at 6:30 AM with a 6.9 mile run. Approximately twelve hours later, I have my second run of 8.3 miles down one of the canyon passes. My third run is my “easy” one at just over 4 miles of mostly flat terrain. My total mileage is twenty miles in thirty six hours. Still sounds daunting even to me when I add the miles together but I’ve been training hard and I know I can do them split up into the three different runs with no sweat.
Did you hear me just now sounding all positive and shit? I hope you bought it because really I’m scared shitless that I’ll have to walk that last four miles or that I’ll get so stiff riding around in the van that I won’t be able to run either of the subsequent runs. But, I’m not letting myself stress about it because regardless of how it happens I am excited to experience it and have a blast. I even talked my sister into being our support driver and I’m really looking forward to spending the time with her – although I don’t think she’s quite as excited to endure what can only be termed a sweaty stink-fest. When one of the top things on any list of what to bring is a towel to sit on “so the stink doesn’t go into the seats” followed closely with the tip to pack your clothes in large Ziploc bags so you can “zip up the stink” you have to expect the worst, right?
I’m heading off to bed now… wish me luck and watch my tweets for updates along the way. Of course I’ll recap post-race as well – if I live through it, that is!