The “The Relay” as I’ve been calling it, was actually Ragnar’s Great River Relay.
The game goes something like this . . . you borrow, steal, or rent two vans, and then find 12 people silly enough to run 200 miles in 24 hours (well that’s how you sell it anyway . . . it really took much longer). You put 6 people in each van and divvy out the mileage so that each member of the team runs 3 legs of the race. Then the two vans leap frog each other, dropping off a runner, following a runner, picking up a runner, and dropping off another runner. Repeat for 200 miles.
So that’s what we did Friday through Saturday. I ran with 11 other people, and HE was gracious enough to be a van driver and runner support.
Most of the team met in Winona Minnesota late Thursday night, just in time to share our pre-race jitters and pass-out for our final hours of sleep. The rest of the team arrived early Friday morning, and we met for continental breakfast in the hotel lobby. There were lots of questions, but having never done this before, no one had any answers and we were basically left winging-it.
In many ways are team was under prepared. We had minimal van decorations (my favorites included the National Lampoon van that had Grandma strapped to the roof) and we were short on costumes (there were supper heroes, cops, and piglets running all over the course.)
But, being a novice team didn’t keep us for having an awesome time. We bought some car paint to add a little spirit to our ride and headed to the starting line around 10:30 am. Start times are determined by the team pace. Slower teams start earlier which gives you more time to finish, and faster teams have stagger start times throughout the afternoon.
I ran first and quickly fell to the back of the pack. It was a overcast day, but the heat and humidity definitely hit me hard. It turns out I had it easy. The weather couldn’t make up it’s mind and some of my other team members ended up running in the rain, or freshly laid asphalt in the scorching hot sun.
Each leg of the race was rated easy, moderate, hard, or very hard. But we found that weather conditions, time of day, and the runners’ personal preference for distance vs hills impacts the feel of each run drastically. Two runs both categorized as hard could could feel entirely different.
I got lucky. My runs were longish, but not too hilly, and I had descent weather conditions. Bonus: Running first means you are finished first. Negative: Running first means you sit in sweaty clothes longer than anyone else.
There were showers along the course, but unfortunately that wasn’t in the cards for my van. I had no showers in between my runs and only 1.5 hours of sleep (on the floor of high school gym that kindly opens it doors for runners.)
It was a rough weekend, but totally worth all of the training. Everyone ran hard and we had a great time.
My favorite part of crossing the finish line was the awesome metals we earned . . . they double as a bottle opener, for that beer and burritos that is also well earned.
After the race, we headed back to the Minneapolis Hilton (I know . . . fancy huh?), the rest of our team finished showering, and a few of us tried to hit the town for a drink. But, what we really wanted was some sleep!
Who else has done Ragnar? Did you love it or what?