I did not have plans to run Ragnar Minnesota this year, but left it open just in case the opportunity presented itself. I ran the race last year last minute with a fun group, but the course is different this year and I was curious to see the new route to Duluth. I lucked out and found a team that needed a runner. The captain sent me a link to photos of the team from previous ragnars, just so I could get a sense of what I was getting myself into LOL.
I arrived to Minnesota late Thursday night and the captain graciously picked me up, one of 3 trips to the airport to pick up teammates at all hours of the night. We had an air bnb nearby. I met some of the crew and then hit the hay. I was assigned runner 10, so I was in van 2. After a hearty breakfast, we were off to get started!
Our team name was "I can't feel my legs, can I feel yours?
Here was our lineup for van 2:
Runner 7 - Carlos (newbie) from SFO
Runner 8 - Tyler from Boston
Runner 9 - Sara from SFO
Runner 10 - Me
Runner 11 - Alec (newbie) from upstate NY
Runner 12- Jess (captain) from upstate NY
It was nice and sunny, but getting hotter as the day went on. One of the two newbies, Carlos, ended up having a horrific hard hilly long run in the heat, I felt bad for him. Poor guy did not know what he was getting himself into! My first leg would be my longest at 8.9 miles. The first half was in direct sun, but actually went surprisingly well. Then it got more shaded and wound past a lake. I slowed down and took lots of pics. Our exchange was at Big Marine forest park and there was a refreshing lake there. My team ended up enjoying the lake while I was out sweating my butt off!
After our last runner finished we headed near the next exchange for dinner. Chubbys bar and grill to the rescue. The restaurants in town had no idea the race would be in town and were completely overwhelmed with the crowds. My next run wouldn’t be until 330 am or so, but I decided I wouldn’t try to sleep until after it was over. We had a large suv but couldn’t stretch out. This run would be 6.1 miles on a forest trail. I was filled with anxiety, worrying about scary forest animals jumping out. We heard reports of bats swooping at people, but it ended up being really pretty, and my fastest run, because I was motivated to not get eaten by a bear! Loved the cool temperatures (around 56)
I took a little catnap and then perked right up when someone mentioned breakfast. Went to a tiny small town diner. It was interesting, and I’ll leave it at that. Got another nap after that. Luckily I just had my shortest run left. While we were getting ready for our last set of runs, I heard from my buddy Matt M that he was here running the race, and was able to find him and my insta beer loving friend Matt B, who I had never met in real life.
A good chunk of the race was run on the William Munger Trail. I think all of us had at least one of our legs on this trail. Pretty nice, right?
During my last leg, the Matts were already done since they were in van 1, so they were at a local watering hole on the course. They were sweet enough to interrupt their celebratory drinking to check on where I was so that they could come out and cheer me on. All of a sudden I looked up and they were all lined up with their bright pink Beer Runner t-shirts, clapping and high fiving me. A highlight, for sure!
Then our other new teammate Alec had a crazy 8 or 9 miler with ridiculous inclines in Duluth. The hills there are insane! After that we were off to the finish. I found another insta friend Belinda, 2 of my teammates from team last year, and then the Matts again. Our team enjoyed hanging out at the finish for a bit before cleaning up and heading out for dinner in Duluth.
Oh and we actually did pretty well! Check out these results!
Overally, I’m so grateful to have found this team. I had a great experience for my 20th Ragnar Relay. Our captain, Jessica, definitely has a no-runner-left -behind mentality. She was great and we had a drama-free weekend. The team has a Tumblr page (yes you read that right!). Check that out if you want to see more pics from this adventure.
I’m not sure if I have a preference of the two courses. It was nice to see Duluth – but a 2.5 hour drive back to the airport is a bit of a drag. Maybe if it started in Duluth and ran to Minneapolis it would be better? I'm excited at the prospect of doing another race with this team in the future, and hopefully on the "Beer Runner" team with the Matts for Michigan next year!
Until my next adventure,
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!