When people find out how many Ragnars I have done, they always ask me, “which one is your favorite”? While that can be a really tough question because I honestly love doing these so much that it’s hard to find anything bad to say about any of them. But, I honestly tell folks that my favorite, for obvious reasons, is Ragnar Michigan.
I have done this race all 4 years of its existence, 2 of them as team captain. It takes place in my beautiful home state, and ends in my favorite city of all, Traverse City.
This year, I got on a team with 2 of the girls I met on the Michigan Runner Girl team last year. They captained their own team, and I happily jumped on board. I even had 2 friends from Arizona come and join in on the fun.
The timing was not ideal – I had just gotten back a few days before from a weeklong trip to London that included running Ragnar White Cliffs. My head was still in the clouds, and I just hadn’t had time to get excited for this one, since I was still thinking about the last one just days prior.
There were storms in the forecast, but we hoped for the best. This would be my first time in van 2 of Ragnar Michigan, and I was looking forward to seeing a different part of the course.
Our team was rather speedy. We didn’t start until 9:30am. We had 3 runners who ran 6:30 pace!
One of my friends from AZ, Tricia, had never been to Michigan before, and her enthusiasm was contagious. She was like a young child – “is that a lighthouse over there? Are those sand dunes? This is so pretty” and she also took note of the Midwest hospitality and friendliness of the residents, like the older gentleman to stopped when he saw us on the side of the road, just making sure our vehicle was ok.
I was runner 10, so it was a long wait before I got to run. And more time to worry about the storm coming. One of my favorite things about this race is that most legs have a water view at some point. Many exchanges are at state parks, so the opportunities for great scenery are endless.
My first run was only 3.4 miles down a country road. Somehow I was able to run a 9:27 pace, which was great for me. Being one of the last runners is such a LONG wait. But at least you are rewarded with dinner shortly thereafter! It hard started to rain a little at this point but nothing heavy yet.
Once we finished dinner and made our way to the next exchange to rest, the heavens opened up and it poured. The race officials ended up issuing a lightning hold later that night – the first one I’ve ever experienced. Basically, the runner out at that time can either finish or get picked up. Then the next runner gets skipped and you get a one hour hold before the next runner can start. Luckily we only had one hold to get through, and the rain lightened up. Our runner still got soaked and had a hellacious 8 mile hilly run in the rain – along the shoulder of a busy road. Not fun!
We also had a little drama with our recently injured runner Tricia. Her first leg went by smoothly, but half way through her night run, her ankle was giving her problems and we ended up swapping her out with another runner.
My night run would be my longest – and between the length and the rain I was a bit anxious. However, this night run was so peaceful, I really enjoyed it, despite being 7.8 miles long! The road was empty at 1am, I ran a 9:47 pace, and had 10 kills! There was zero rain, the temperature was around 58-60 degrees, so not cold! It was just a steady nice run. The only downer was that I must have gotten some bad batteries, and my Noxgear light up safety vest was dying during the run. It was very, very faint by the end of the run.
After our night runs, we did our best to get some sleep, although not that soundly due to space issues in the van. It still wasn’t “cold” out per se, but it was an excuse to bust out some of my cooler weather Ragnar gear!
I had been searching for my friend Jen, and was able to find her shortly before my last run.
Our final legs all went pretty smoothly; even Tricia was ready to tackle her short last run. Michelle got to run with wild turkeys. I got to run 3.1 through the cute little town of Lake Ann.
After some team celebrations, we met up with family and went our separate ways.
This was a fun race with friends old and new. I can’t imagine NOT doing this race!
Oh, and our speedy team came in 12th out of 96 in our division!
Until next time, Ragnar Michigan. You'll always be my hometown favorite :)
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!