You may know that I am a runner. I’ve been a runner since high school. I competed on my school’s cross country and track team. I also ran on my intercollegiate cross country and track team in college. And in the 14 years since then, I’ve competed in 7 marathons (I ran Boston 3 times!) and countless races of every distance shorter than that. I love running!
Last month, I participated in the most challenging running event of my career — Ragnar. It’s a team relay race stretching almost 200 miles, broken into 36 different legs. The traditional Ragnar team has 12 runners, each covering 3 of those 36 legs. I did that last year and it was amazing. This year, we took the challenge and craziness to a whole new level, doing it as “Ultra” team, which means we had only 6 runners covering the 36 legs. So, we each had 6 legs to run. My legs ranged from 4.7 miles at the shortest to 6.9 miles at the longest, and all told, I covered 34.1 miles for my team.
Teams start early in the morning on a Friday and don’t get to the finish line until Saturday afternoon. Our team took 34 hours to cover the nearly 200 miles through SoCal from Huntington Beach to San Diego.
The fun (or crazy, maybe?!) part is that your team is responsible for getting each runner to and from the exchange points. So, you rent a big van and after your runner takes off, you drive to the next exchange to get the next runner ready. Repeat that 35 times, non-stop, throughout the night (along with over 600 other teams!) and you get one crazy fun event!
Runners are a fun, spirited, encouraging group. And we’re a little wacky. Ragnar is not complete without goofy team names, decorated vans, tracking “kills” (other runners you pass during your legs), fun outfits (like tutus and costumes), and more. It’s kind of like a good-spirited, fitness-minded college frat party (minus the booze — that’s not til the finish line!).
Before we get to the finish, though, we have to start. Our team start was at 6:45 a.m. on Friday morning. I had the pleasure of being Runner #1 for Team Hexagon[e] (a nod to our 6-person Ultra status, and that we’ve “gone” a little cuckoo for attempting it!).
Our lovely team captain and driver made us some pretty sweet tutus to sport. . .
And we chugged through the miles in good spirits and with no injuries, even in the scorching afternoon heat of Corona!
The going gets tough once the sun sets. The fatigue of the miles you’ve already covered sets in and with darkness all around, you just want to curl up and fall asleep. But, there are miles ahead and mile to tick through, so you deliriously chug on. . .
And once the dawn comes on Saturday, it brings a renewed hope that you’re through the tough part and that you will actually make it to the finish line!
But you still take every chance you can to catch some zzzzzz’s.
When you hit your last leg, it’s a crazy, exhilarating, humbling, and joyous experience. Proud to have not let your team down, proud for pushing your body to the limit and proud to have done it with such an awesome group of people. One last hug to send our final runner off on Leg 36, bringing it on home. . .
Alas, 34ish hours later, we reached the finish!!!!!
We enjoyed some pizza and beer, headed back home, slept like babies and woke up the next morning with Ragnar withdrawal. . . wanting to pull on those running shoes and pink and blue tutu for just a few more miles!
Now, head over to Spokane Photographer Creatively Yours for a little more “10 on 10″ excitement!