I haven't ran a trail race since 2015, and that is by design. The last time I ran a trail relay, I fell and sprained my ankle, and had to walk over 4 miles on it back to camp. It really freaked me out and made me feel like I just can't do this.
Fast forward to 2021, when I decided to give trails another chance. In fact, the exact same trails that scared me last time. Spoiler alert: I loved it!
I became a Ragnar Relay ambassador back in May and the trail race is now our only local Ragnar Relay. So, I got some friends together and made my own team, determined to not let my previous bad experience weigh me down. I started with my local "brew crew", 3 friends who I met in a women's running group many years ago - and met for lots of virtual races during the pandemic.
Then the team got filled in from another friend (and former colleague) and her husband, plus 2 out of state friends I met at other Ragnars. Building the team would prove to be the easiest part. My biggest challenge was the logistics of getting us and our stuff to the campsite. It's a long story but basically 2 people were flying in and had no gear or transportation, and another 2 of us had very small cars with little storage for all the gear we needed to bring. So I rented a SUV. Problem solved right? Wrong. I showed up to the car rental place and was told they did not have the type of car I needed, or anything similar - IN THE WHOLE STATE! Connie came to the rescue and got us a uhaul cargo van. It was ghetto, but we made it work!
While we were dealing with the van, other team members went up early and snagged us a good spot. 6 of us spent the first night before the race started
We settled in next to good friends (who made delicious food all weekend!), and then waited for our start time and for our remaining 2 teammates to arrive.
We had hoped to do glamping, which sold out 6 months in advance. We were on the waitlist and never got in, and it ended up working out just fine. We had an early start time, and Amanda was our first runner on deck.
It got hot really quick, so we were each treated to a some crazy hot runs in the afternoon. My first run was the yellow loop, the dreaded technical loop. It has some tricky spots for sure, lots of ups and downs and some nice runnable sections.
I survived this run, and actually enjoyed the end section where it merged with the other trails.
Spent the rest of the day rehydrating, chilling, and cheering on our remaining runners.
My next run would be around 11:30pm. It was the green loop, which is a nice rolling trail on packed dirt. It was just us and the stars and moon. Really peaceful, maybe 55 degrees? It was such a relief to not deal with any technical terrain or loose rocks. I absolutely loved it and felt like I was flying.
After this run, I crawled in the tent, feeling satisfied and got a few hours of much needed sleep. My last run was around 930 am, and it would be the red loop, the longest one, and the one I fell on last time. It has a long steep incline in the first 2 miles on loose rocks that I don't understand how anyone can run on it. As soon as I hit the one mile mark, I fell and my watch did the one mile chime. Nothing was hurting, so I popped up and kept going. But it would be 2 more miles before I was able to fully run on solid ground. Once I was back running again, I enjoyed it and was trying my best to beat the heat.
Then it was just a waiting game for our final runners!
Here they come!
All in all, a great time was had and I have discovered that I CAN do hard things, I CAN run trails! So happy to be able to have done this with my friends.
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!