Yee Haw! Ragnar Lukenbach is in the books! I have been looking forward to this event for many months, and now it’s over!
It all started when Erica, someone I met through BibRave and a twitter friend, announced she was building her own team for Ragnar Luckenbach, outside of Austin, TX. I have made my interest known that I am open to traveling to run a Ragnar pretty much anywhere, so I was all in! Then she recruited our mutual friend Jeremy and I convinced my Ragnar MI teammate Toby to join. Erica filled in the rest and I couldn’t wait.
Ragnar + Travel = Awesomeness in my book.
We arrived Thursday afternoon into Austin and crashed at a nearby hotel, got to bond a little during dinner. Erica’s friends Emi and Kevin rounded out our van 1 crew. We had an hour’s drive the next morning to get to the start in Bastrop. Our lineup was:
Runner 1 - Toby
Runner 2 - Erica
Runner 3 - Kevin (Big Kev)
Runner 4 - Emi
Runner 5 - Emily
Runner 6 - Jeremy
We started Just as the sun was coming up. I was in Van 1 (Van 1 for life is my motto), and Toby was our first runner. It was near perfect weather, 60’s at the start and sunny. We saw a lot of cattle. And blue bonnet flowers. This was our view at exchange 1 while waiting for Toby.
At exchange 3, we were treated to an adorable general store in Red Rock, TX. I got a cup of coffee that was brewing in a traditional old school pot, and it cost a whole 50 cents. The lady at the register said, someone left 50 cents here, so I guess yours is free! Love it.
I was runner #5. It was getting warmer, but still breezy. It was around 10:30 by the time I got to run, and my first run was only 2.1 miles! However, the run was full of hills I was not expecting. Geez! Jeremy was up next, so I got to hand off to him.
What came next was perhaps the longest afternoon of my life. We went and had tacos for lunch, freshened up a little, and then headed to the next major exchange, knowing that we had 4-5 hours before it was our turn again. This is the part of Ragnar that I dread. The massive down time. Everyone but me wanted to nap. So after trying to sleep, I gave up and headed outside to see what was around us. We were in the tiny town of Martindale, TX. Near the exchange was a grassy area, and once we walked around we discovered there was a river there. Great views and breezes. Toby and I walked around and found a path down to the bottom where people were taking a dip. Pretty cool.
It became apparent that something was off in our timing, Van 1 was right on schedule, but it seemed that van 2 was falling behind anticipated pace projections. It got hotter and hotter and we watched vans come and go with absolutely no sign of ours. We were supposed to start at 5:55pm but ended up around 7:30pm. The sun was setting as we left. I couldn’t round up enough people for euchre, even though Jeremy was a guaranteed player. This was us after 6+ hours of waiting.
Exchange 15 was at a honky tonk bar, the Happy Cow, in Hunter, TX. Live music was blaring from this place and since it was Friday night, boy was it tempting not to go in and check this place out. However, I was going to be the next runner up at the next exchange in an hour or so. I had to be good.
I always get anxious before my night runs. Let’s face it, the prospect of running in dark, sometimes desolate areas can be daunting. Especially for a female. I looked at the map and saw that a good portion of my run was along the Guadalupe river, so I thought that would be cool (if I could see anything in the dark). I ended up having THE BEST time on this night run, with the exception of dodging oncoming cars on a narrow road. My 6.7 mile leg started just past the fun nightlife of New Braunfels and Greune. There were so many cute places with patios lit up with colored lights. I just wanted to sit there and enjoy. Instead, I got ready to run. I started out on the main road, which was just a narrow 2 lane road. When cars would approach, there was not much room for me to get over out of the way. The weeds were about 2 ft high on the shoulder, and it was on a 45 degree slant in many places. So often I would stop and walk when a car approached since I couldn’t tell my footing in the weeded, uneven shoulder. It was hard to get into a good rhythm.
It started to become “fun”, once I turned the corner onto River Road and found myself running into a nature vacation playground. The River Road Ice house was a big corner bar that was bustling on a Friday night. People were outside drinking, yelling out encouragement to the runners. For a split second I wanted to take a detour for a cold one…the road started really getting into rolling hills, I could hear and occasionally see the river. We were down in a canyon and it just looked wicked cool, even in the dark. I ran past a bunch of campgrounds, under the stars, it was the best feeling. The downhills were going really fast and felt amazing. I had 4 “kills” that I passed along the way, I couldn’t believe it. I crossed the river at multiple points and was so wishing there were more lights so I could really see my incredible nature surroundings. I made a mental note to google New Braunfels/River Road when I got home, I just had to see what it looked like In the daylight. (see pics below). I was riding a total high when I got to hand off to Jeremy again, and promised him he would love his run too.
He did have a great run, but due to a misunderstanding of sorts, van 2 was not ready and waiting for him at the exchange, so he ran on to the next one. In the meantime, I joined Toby for a roasted marshmallow and searched for coffee. Yes, even at midnight…Fun fact: I looked on a map where we were and it said “Sattler, Texas”. Sattler is my maiden name. Imagine my surprise!
We drove on to the next big exchange and figured we would have 4-5 hours at a minimum of sleeping in the van. We each had our own rows in the van so it wasn’t completely awful, but I can’t say it was awesome. I manage on little sleep pretty well during Ragnar so I was awake by 5 when Toby had to start again. A storm was approaching, so they eliminated 2 legs from the race (from van 2). It was cloudy, sprinkling and humid. I was not really looking forward to another 6.1 miles, especially if it was raining. The majority of my last leg was along a freeway frontage road. There were ridiculous hills on this route and I was becoming more miserable by the second. I was dripping wet from rain and humidity. I walked on some of these hills, but took advantage of the downhills. I somehow passed 4 people on this leg. My teammate Kevin met me about .3 from the exchange and ran in with me. I was running out of gas.
While Jeremy finished up his last leg, we stopped at Joshua Creek Falls along the way, before meeting up with van 2. Below is a pic of his finish on his 10.5 mile run –
After he finished, we drove to Luckenbach which is really an attraction in Fredericksburg, a German town known for their wine. We grabbed lunch finally (only our second real meal in 36 hours) and then headed to the finish line to wait for van 2. Oh look, more waiting! Again, a pathetic attempt at sleep, and longer than anticipated time for our runner to get in. We didn’t’ officially finish until after 5pm. It dragged on forever. Luckenbach is a TX bar/dance hall, which on this particular day attracted a large number of bikers. Anyhoo, we finally finished!
It was fun to do this race with real life friends, which is a bit of a rarity for me being that the majority of my Ragnar experiences that have mostly been with strangers.
Thank you Ragnar and thank you Texas for a good time! I feel very fortunate that my knee cooperated for another Ragnar and let me run without any issues. Also happy everyone got along and our van was drama-free! The boys were all speedy and bonded well. It was Emi's first Ragnar and she had a great attitude about it. The guys were amazing well skilled drivers. Mad props to them! Toby, Jeremy and Emi are all in for Ragnar MI, less than 6 months from now, so that will be a blast too!!!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!