I spent a week this June in Park City, Utah, with 11 of my closest friends to run another race in the Ragnar Relay Series. These races are held all over the country and are overnight relay races that cover about 200 miles. Each team can have up to 12 runners split between two vans. The course and the runner exchanges are set by Ragnar, so every van’s runners complete the same legs in the same order.
Most of our team has remained the same since our original race, which was from Miami to Key West in January of 2013 (Team Smells like Team Spirit). We ran the Napa Valley in 2013 (Team The Grape Escape) as well as the Northwest Passage (Team The Free Willies) last year. We missed a few of our people this year due to injury, which sucked, and then we also missed some of the people that have joined us along the way. I have decided that next race we need to do a regular team of 12 as well as an Ultra, which is 6 people only. That way everyone can suffer together!!
Suffer… that is the segue into discussing the Wasatch Back race. The running itself was the hardest of any race our team has ever done (disclaimer: I am going to whine a lot about this race, and if you know me then that statement should adequately prepare you.. if not, apologies in advance). The entire race was run at altitude, which for most of the team is significantly higher than sea level. Specifically, thousands of feet higher. This was less of an issue than I anticipated, probably due to my obsessive nature of ensuring everyone stayed hydrated and warning my teammates of the perils altitude sickness and the deadly sequealae of cerebral swelling. Or maybe I just read too much WebMD on the way there.
Ok, so altitude makes it harder to run. Got it. You know what else does? Running straight up or straight down a mountain. And then if you aren’t running up or down, running on the flats on top of melting blacktop with the heat of the sun beating down on you approximately 6 feet over your head. It was so hot and so dry that I cannot even think of some sort of ridiculous analogy. Other teams were driving by with Super Soakers and I swear that by the time the stream of water reached me it was dried up in the air.
But do you know what makes a race like this awesome? The fact that it happened with a group of friends sucking it up together, laughing hysterically being over tired, dirty, hungry, and delirious. I love these people so much and I feel so lucky that we have been able to take these trips together.
We rented a giant house for the whole team before, during and after the race this year. Typically, we stay at a hotel near the start and then stay somewhere else at the finish. Having the more centrally located house was great because our van came back in between legs to shower, eat, and sleep. Or watch Friday Night Lights. Nothing like Coach and Tami Taylor to get you motivated. #Cleareyesfullheartscantlose
The giant house was perfect for cooking group dinners and breakfasts, which was my favorite part of the trip. Thanks to certain people who are amazing cooks, we ate well. Thanks to certain people who are amazing shoppers, we drank well. Although some of our team had to leave the day after the race, the rest of us ventured to the top of the mountain up which Shawn ran and had a toast in his honor, as well as went to the Olympic training center.
Before I overload this post with pictures of my teammates and our race, I will comment on the other major difference I noticed from the other Ragnar races in which I have participated. This race had more of a hometown feel. Less giant rental vans and more personal vehicles. Less raunchy team names and more Bible quotes on the vans. Generally less revelry, cowbells, cheering, and inter-team interaction. One of the highlights of the Ragnar is “tagging” other vans with your team’s personally designed magnets. In this case, very few teams were playing that game. I would not recommend this race as anyone’s first Ragnar because I would not want them missing out on that part of the fun.
Now take a look at a million pictures!