Once upon a time, I said I had absolutely no interest in running in a Ragnar Relay race. The thought of spending 32 hours in a van, not showering, and running in the middle of the night sounded pretty awful.
Well, at some point my standards changed, or maybe my idea of crazy changed. Not only did I sign up for the challenge, but I did it with total STRANGERS!
I’m part of the SweatPink online fitness community, and follow my local Sweatpink AZ community page on facebook. They had an opening on their team, and something made me decide to go for it!
Ragnar Del Sol is a 203 mile journey from Wickenburg, AZ to Mesa, AZ. Our race start time was 10am on Friday morning, so we grabbed our van the night before, decorated it, got checked in and safety briefed, and drove the 35 miles or so in rush hour to our hotel in Surprise, AZ. We had 2 hotel rooms for 12 of us. Yikes! We all went out to dinner and got to know each other a little bit. Then I grabbed a spot on the floor and went to sleep. I was assigned runner #5, which meant running 3 legs, totaling 17.1 miles.
I totally scored with my van-mates. They are all moms, and were all very cool. Everybody at least knew somebody on the team, I was the only straggler. But I’m happy to report there was no drama in Van 1! We were focused, organized and supportive.
Day 1: We drove to the start in Wickenburg. It was a hot day, and I didn’t get to run until around 2 in the afternoon for my first leg. I went out a bit too fast for my first leg, and it was a slow steady incline. I was definitely feeling it later on.
We spent the day cheering each other on and working our way towards Surprise, AZ. Once we transitioned over to Van 2, we got situated a bit – had dinner, gassed up and headed over to the exchange area at a high school where we attempted to “rest” in our sleeping bags on the field for a few hours. It was such a busy exchange, there was no way we were going to sleep through the noise.
Day 2: The time was approaching that I had been dreading since I signed up – the nighttime leg. I was assigned to 5.7 miles in the dark. It had cooled off quite a bit. I was chilly, nervous and anxious – but not tired! I finally got to run my leg around 2:30 am. It was 1.3 miles of a trail and another 4.4 on the road.
The trail part was scary, I’m not going to lie. Another runner came up behind me and thankfully he was not in a hurry. We stayed together and helped each other find our way in the darkness. My new headlamp worked awesome, but it was still really hard to tell where the trail was at times. Once we got out on the open road, it was kind of a breeze. Monotonous, but I was so happy to be finishing up with that leg.
After it was over, I was shivering from being in my cold sweaty clothes. Our driver encouraged me to take advantage of the showers at that exchange. I didn’t want to, but I felt so good after getting cleaned up and my teeth brushed. I was a new woman. We still had to drive about 30 miles to the next major exchange where we would attempt to get some real sleep before our final leg. When we got there, I found out we were sleeping outside again, not inside in a gym like I thought. It actually was fine. I fell asleep even though the announcer was going all night long. I woke up and the sun was shining and my 2 hours of solid sleep felt glorious. We got coffee and headed out. Again, lots of hurry up and wait, but by the time it was time for my final leg it was brutally hot! Direct sun – 2pm – around 83 degrees. Ugh. I was so happy to be done!
We had some down time to kill while van 2 completed their final leg, so we got lunch, washed our van, and scooted over to the finish line to wait for the final runner to come in. That seemed like forever!
Things I learned during Ragnar:
1) It’s a lot of hurry up and wait
2) Spend more time getting to know other teams, you see them a lot
3) Sleep is overrated
4) You don’t get to spend any time with or get to know anyone in Van 2.
5) Take more random pics of your van-mates and of the experience
6) Stop worrying about getting home and enjoy the journey
7) Going out too hard on your first leg probably isn’t a great idea.
8) I’m a badass.
All in all, I’m so glad I signed up for this adventure! I pushed past some of my fears and made some new friends along the way. It’s something I’ll never forget, and for sure do again!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!