Two weeks ago, myself and eleven other runners piled into two vans to run 200ish miles over 36ish hours. Sounds like fun right?
Fun is not how I would refer to my experience running Ragnar Relay Great River… Amazing is a much better term!
In early January we started discussing putting together another team for Ragnar Relay Great River. Several of us had been on a team in 2016 and knew we wanted to do it again! So, the Type A personality in me started planning. By March, we had a full team! Between March and June we had three runners back out but our amazing team stepped up and found people to fill the open spots. I can honestly say that by the time we hit the start line, We Find All Our Runners…Eventually was a well oiled machine!!!
Our team was comprised of 9 people I work with, two of their spouses, and myself. I was in Van 1 and it was made up of all coworkers! In fact, three of the runners in my van sit within arms distance of me. Yes, you read that right I decided to spend 36 hours in a van with people I work with. I am happy to report those were 36 of the funnest hours I have had in a very long time! We had an amazing time together!
Ragnar Relay Great River starts in Winona, MN and ends near the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN. The majority of the relay runs along the Mississippi River so it is a very hilly course. Just so we are all on same page, it is a VERY hilly course! Who knew there were so many hills in Minnesota and Wisconsin! But with that said, it an absolutely beautiful course! The river, hills, and trees make for some amazing scenery!
Van 1 left on Thursday night since it is just over two hours from the Twin Cities to Winona. We had a fun drive down to Winona and of course spent most of time chatting about work. We went directly to check in because we all decided that was better than being there at 5:15am. After checking it was time to get our carb loading done so it was off to supper. The food and the service left a lot to be desired but we were adequately fueled for our first legs of Ragnar Relay Great River! Then it was off to the hotel for a short night of rest.
Ragnar Relay Great River – Van 1 Leg 1 – 6
Our start time was 6:15am so it was a early morning! Before Tim took off we got a picture of all the runners in our van.
And then Tim was off and Ragnar Relay Great River 2017 had started!
Tim had an unsupported leg so we went directly exchange one to wait for him, let Nancy get ready, and decorate our van. This year I made sure to buy better window markers! Last year, we decorated the van very nicely and then went through a rain shower which washed all our art work off! We were not going to let that happen this year!
I had a spreadsheet with estimated start and finish times for each runner so we had an idea of when to expect Tim. He crushed the time we had for him so Nancy was off a bit sooner than we had anticipated!
Before heading to exchange three we made a pit stop at the bathroom. It was there that I found a lion water fountain that reminded me of a water fountain at the zoo near where I grew up. It was a photo op I could not turn down!
Nancy had another unsupported leg so we went directly to exchange two. As we were waiting for Nancy to arrive you could tell that Jeremy had some Ragnar newbie nerves. Tim and I had talked Jeremy into being on the team by promising him that he could be runner three. You see, typically at Ragnar Relay Great River runner three is the shortest distance of all runners. However, this year due to construction there was three miles added and of course the last leg was the longest. So I could totally understand how he was feeling, I think everyone feels that way their first Ragnar.
Soon we could see Nancy on the horizon and it was time for Jeremy and I (his safety officer) to cross a really busy highway. And then Jeremy was off!
Jeremy’s leg was partially support so we stopped to see if he needed water two miles in. He was good so we headed to the next exchange. However, we had all forgot that someone along the course had a tribute to local fallen soldiers and we HAD to stop for it. Nancy was able to get the most amazing picture of Jeremy running through it!
We headed to exchange three so I could go to the bathroom and meet Jeremy. I was standing in line to go the bathroom when I saw Jeremy come in to the exchange area!!!!! I took off, I had my phone, race belts, head phones, and heart rate monitor in my hands. Jeremy had to wait for me at the exchange and I didn’t get to go to the bathroom. I spent the first quarter of a mile of my leg putting on all my gear.
I had a 6.6 mile leg and the first 5 miles were really flat. By mile five I was ready to pee my running tights! And don’t think it didn’t cross my mind!!! Mile five was also where the 1.5 mile hill started. I ran a good majority of it then had to walk after my life flashed before my eyes. I was nearly hit by some a**hole who was playing on their phone and driving. However, the look on their face when they finally saw me was worth the near death experience.
I got to the top of the hill and have 0.1 miles to the exchange where I would be handing off to Maggie. I was really happy to see Maggie but I was even happier to see the port-a-potties!!!!!!! Let’s just say I didn’t even wait in line, I cut the line to the first open port-a-potty!
Maggie had yet another unsupported leg so again we headed to the next exchange. When we got there I cleaned up and changed, took a picture with Jeremy, and checked my leg off.
Van 2 surprised us by showing up to the exchange! We spent some time chatting with them and waiting for Maggie. Once Maggie was at the exchange it was time for Laurel, Van 1’s final runner, to head out. Yet another unsupported leg so we headed to the first major exchange. As we drove through that leg we all felt for Laurel! It was an awful leg to have to run!
At the first major exchange while we waited for Laurel we enjoyed pie! I had been waiting a year for that pie! Last year due to flooding we missed it! The pie was AMAZING!!!!
Laurel rocked her leg and it was time for the exchange with Van 2! Laurel handed off to Erin who had a gnarly leg ahead of her! Driving is sucked so I can only imagine what running it was like! Van 2 was now on the course so we headed off to the next major exchange.
I can say that Van 1 crushed their first legs and deserved the much needed rest we had waiting for us!
Holy! Are you tired of reading yet? This post is almost at 1300 words and I haven’t even recapped legs 2 or 3!! I guess you will have to wait until tomorrow for those!!!
Have you run Ragnar Relay? Have you run Ragnar Relay Great River? Or have you done a different running relay? If so, what is your favorite part?