I’m someone who, like most people, doesn’t like to be out of my comfort zone too often. That is, until I did my first Ragnar. Participating in a Ragnar relay race is the epitomy of being out of your comfort zone. You’re away from the comforts of home – comfy bed, hot coffee, loved ones, regular meals – and instead are thrust into a 30-ish hour period of time where you’re without all of these things, have to run a lot on little to no sleep, but have a blast anyway!
It was my 3rd Ragnar (2nd time doing Ragnar del Sol) and it didn’t disappoint. For fun, I threw in the extra curve ball of not knowing ANYONE on my team before the race.
My husband dropped me off the night before at someone’s house that I’d never met and said “what if one of them is an axe murderer”?
Luckily for me, no murderers were on my team. All nice normal people who were just in it for the camaraderie and running adventure. We took a 200 mile journey from Wickenburg to Mesa AZ. Our team was the "12 Wandering Runners". I was assigned to van 1 and my crew was the following:
Runner 1 – Alex (captain)
Runner 2 – Sergio
Runner 3 – Thanesh
Runner 4 – Me
Runner 5 – Renee
Runner 6 – Joe
Oddly enough, I was runner 4 last year. It would have been nice to experience a different leg, but knowing what to expect was a bit of a comfort, too. They did make some changes to the individual legs this year, so my leg 2 and leg 3 were different than last year, mostly for the better. And because this was a different team than last year, with different speed/abilities, we got an earlier start time – yay! We had to be in Wickenburg for a 6am start time. That put my first leg around 9:30am. This year it was cloudy in the morning which left a bit of a “chill” in the air. I based my outfits on last years super-hot weather and the overall forecast, but found that it was cooler this time. I spent the majority of my downtime wrapped in my OrangeMud Transition Towel. That thing is a lifesaver.
My first leg was a 6.5 miler, kind of boring route with not much to look at. I passed 10 people (kills) during this leg. I always go out too hard in leg 1 and end up paying for it. It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement and all the cowbell...
We were done with our first legs by 1pm and got to finally go out for a real meal. I was existing on clif bar and banana prior to that. Caffeine hadn’t really entered the picture yet, but would have been fantastic. After lunch, we were fortunate enough that our team captain’s brother lived near the next exchange point. We went to his house and got the opportunity to rest, and chill without being stuck in the van. This was a serious amount of down time. Way too much for me. I was super antsy, not really that tired yet even though we left the house at 330 that morning. I just couldn’t sleep. It was technically a work day (Friday) so my mind was still on work and whether or not people were trying to contact me for various things. It wasn’t until it was after 5pm that I could shut my work brain off. We got a small bite to eat at the house and then hit the road to meet up with van 2 for round 2.
I was happy that round 2 for us was before midnight. My next leg started around 930pm. I didn’t enjoy this section last year, and wasn’t really looking forward to it. It cooled back off again, and I had a 5.3 mile leg with the first 1.75 miles on a trail. I was very nervous about the trail section since I fractured my fibula back in November during Ragnar Trail and even though I was cleared to run last month, he said no trail running for 6 weeks – even terrain only. So due to it being dark and and a gravely trail section, I walked that portion of the leg. It is in no way worth it to me to try to run on that just to save 10 minutes of time. Too risky. This whole leg was different than last year, start to finish. I enjoyed it more after I was off of the trail and got to run it.
Post-run I was treated to a hot coffee and a donut at around 11pm. The coffee was such a nice treat, it was chilly and it would still be another 2 hours before we could go sleep. Our entire team got a hotel room at the half way point. Spoiled! Van 2 got to use it first and then we got it at like 130 am. It’s quite a luxury for Ragnarians. The 6 of us had lights out at 2am with a 4am wakeup call. How relaxing. Not!
It was time to get back at it again for our last legs. Our captain had to start at 530. All 3 of his legs were in the dark, bless his heart. This was going to be my shortest run yet (4.3 miles) so I wasn’t dreading it at all, even though my legs were sore from the day before. We had 90 minutes to kill while one of our runners was out on the course, but were in the middle of nowhere, no IHOP or anywhere we could go feast on breakfast. So once again no caffeine and just a clif bar to get me powered up. The sun was coming up now and it was warming up a little, so that made me happy.
The race organizers definitely tweaked the legs and I was beyond pleased to see that my final leg was different from last year. I basically got to experience what runner 3 got last year . It was mostly flat and there were actually things to look at. We ran through a few neighborhood communities, golf courses, etc. and I was clipping along at a 9:15 pace. Happy, happy, happy. I finished my 16.1 miles of Ragnar fun a major high note, yay!
We waited for our last 2 runners and were getting ready to have a much needed feast and celebration. We headed out for pizza and beer after the exchange and had another 5 hours to kill before van 2 would finish. They really got the short end of the stick. Even though they had on average lower mileage than van 1, they had the super hot full sun in the afternoon on both days and the middle of the night shift. Yuck.
Like I said earlier we were spoiled on this adventure with places to crash, showers, etc. Since I live in the area, I actually got to go home after I finished, take a nap, shower and feel human again before meeting up with van 2 at the finish line. Now that is awesome! We were a little ahead of schedule, we finished around 430 pm and after super quick post race photos, everyone scattered and headed home. It would have been nice to hang out together for at least a short time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, but I was excited to get back home to my family too.
All in all, I enjoyed another successful Ragnar adventure with my new friends. There was no drama, we were all very responsible, organized and respectful during our 32 hour escapade. It’s a shame that you really don’t get to see or get to know anyone in the other van of your team, I think we would have had a good time, too. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t done one and to anyone who like me thought you would never even want to do one. You totally feel like a badass when you’re done! Can’t wait til the next one. Cheers!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!