It truly felt like I was the last person to hop on the Ragnar Relay bus…or passenger van, as it may be. It seems like every time I turn around, another Facebook friend, fellow runner, or blogger that I follow is posting pictures from the relay they ran over the weekend. So I decided it was finally time to see what all of the fuss was about…and found 7 other people to run the Ragnar Trail Carolinas relay with me this October. Turns out none of them have ever done a Ragnar Relay either…turns out I wasn’t the only one.
When choosing who I would invite to be on our Ragnar team, I made a mental checklist in my head of what sort of qualities a potential teammate needed to possess:
- Must be open to the idea of trail running.
- Must be open to the idea of trail running in the dark, at night, and in theory…all alone.
- Must be open to the idea of trail running past snakes and spiders and all of the other things people seem to fear. (This all seems to be a deal breaker here in Myrtle Beach)
- Must like…or at least tolerate…camping.
- A great sense of humor is an absolute must.
- Doesn’t mind getting covered in dirt or bug spray, doesn’t mind smelling like a campfire…or the smelly runner they will become over the course of 30 hours.
Things I did not take into consideration include:
- Trail experience
- Beer preference.
Immediately about 10 people came to mind. A mixed bag of beginner and experienced runners, as well as some non runner athlete friends that I was almost certain I could sucker into running approximately 16 miles over the course of 3 legs…if I promised them snacks and a beer or two. I was thrilled that I was able to fill the team almost immediately, after having only a couple of people needing to turn down the invites due to prior obligations. And just like that, Team “Out of Bounds” was formed.
There was certainly a level of trepidation from some in the beginning. Brand new runners being paired with some sort-of-experienced ultra runners, worried about their abilities as runners, fearing that they would let the team down. There has been a lot of discussion and assurance that our team as a whole is out there for the experience, and not to win. And from these discussions, our alter ego name of “Team Party Pace” was formed. A group that loves to laugh, loves the trails, and enjoys a good adult beverage after a hard run. A group that will no doubt still have a smile on their face and a joke at the tip of their tongue, even if the going gets hard out there on the trail.
I asked my team to share a few words regarding their training, their hopes, and their fears (hey, we all have race day fears from time to time) regarding our upcoming (less than a month!) Ragnar Trail Relay experience. Here’s what they had to say:
(Heather’s note: Hope is one of my very favorite friends, my very own “Dr. Phil”. We met during our undergrad years, and thanks to the wonderful power of Facebook chat, we remained close friends who talk nearly every day. She is a stellar athlete and strong as an ox. So if anyone gets hurt on trail, she’ll be the one to carry them back to camp…probably while doing walking lunges.)
I began running in 1993, to the sound of a Drill Sgt. While I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with running, I tend to always come back to it. In recent years, after experiencing ITBand issues, mainly due to my lack of training and jumping into half marathons, I took time off the pavement and headed to the weight room instead. I spent the last 4 years doing CrossFit and Powerlifting, and only running every once in a while. I’ve built incredible strength, and tried hard to keep my stamina in balance as well.
Currently, I’ve run on the trails once since agreeing to Ragnar. Have I mentioned my tendencies for lack of training? I had all good intentions, but life and lack of trails close by and now Grad school, well it’s put Ragnar on my “Let’s see what the body can do when I get there”. I have a few weeks so maybe I’ll get out for another run or two, otherwise I will be the member of the team that everyone shakes their head at and uses as an example of what not to do. I’m primarily going to rely on my current strength and muscle memory and just go out have a good time running (or shuffling) as pace doesn’t matter, right?
Mind you, I’m not making light of this event, I agreed blindly and up until a few weeks ago thought I got to choose between a 3, 5 or 7 mile leg – I didn’t realize I had to run one of each! (Heather’s note: that’s probably my fault. Oops.) I honestly agreed because I haven’t done an event with Heather is ages… It was a chance to hang and do something fun!!!
(Heather’s note: Unless this is your first time here, you know who Geoff is… my partner in adventure, crime, life, running, and soon to be marriage. Always a source of entertainment, but always the first to encourage others to do their best. I can’t imagine NOT having him on my Ragnar team.)
“My first Team Relay was back in 2009 in Reno, NV. It was a road relay, and quite fun. Similar to Ragnar, each participant had 3 legs to run.
Since 2009, I’ve only done one other relay, and I am really looking forward to our upcoming Ragnar. We’ve spent the past few weeks doing lots of group runs and try to throw in some night runs whenever we can. All and all, I think team-wise it’s going ok. We hope to have another Team Meeting night soon to dial in the details and make sure everyone is comfortable with what’s going to happen at Ragnar.
My personal training seems to be going good enough. There’s two or three folks in our group that regularly tear my legs off for me. Five to six miles is now a very comfortable run. Top Ramen Noodles have been very high on my nutrition list for Ragnar. I think between the ramen and frozen pizza I should be good to go. As long as it’s washed down with an IPA.”
(Heather’s note: Will is a reluctant road runner who seems to have recently found his true calling out on the trails. We knew his enthusiasm for the outdoors, as well as the fact that he almost always has a smile on his face, would make him a perfect addition to our team. Even if he doesn’t eat vegetables.)
“Training for Ragnar has been especially hard, considering the heat of the summer and my work schedule. Although I absolutely love trail running and almost everything about being outdoors, I have found myself way more than I wanted on the dreadmill and/or walking. The few times I have ventured out, I have made it a habit to perfect the art of the fall, so much so that I have a portion of the local trail named in my honor (or dishonor). I have managed a few long runs and will be doing a half marathon before Ragnar, so I am hoping to be in decent shape.
Having said all that, I am very excited for the Ragnar Trail relay. The fact is, I trail run more for the friendships and love of outdoors than for the actually concern of time or pace. When an event combines camping, trails, friends, and food, I’m pretty much gonna be all for it.”
(Heather’s note: Dirt lovers tend to attract other dirt lovers, and that is how Geoff and I came across Andre. After a group road run one night, we somehow found ourselves on the other end of the parking lot, sequestered away from the runners and instead sharing a ton of laughs with a group of mountain bikers. A few conversations later with Andre, I had a feeling that he was looking for something to help push him into maybe one day enjoying running. I thought, what better than a Ragnar? I’m still not sure he agrees with me about that, but I’m hoping the Ragnar experience helps open up a whole new avenue of dirt for Andre to enjoy!)
“As an outdoor enthusiast (but not a runner by any stretch of the imagination) the thought of participating in Ragnar intrigued me from the beginning. What a great way to explore outdoors and, at the same time, cross train for a bike bikepacking event in early December. Little did I know that running is far harder than what I was expecting. Self doubt has began to creep in. Letting down team mates, fear of injury and lack of proper training and time all weigh heavily on me. What will I contribute to the team? What do I possess to elevate myself and the rest of the team? What do I bring to table from a team aspect point of view? If not my running ability, maybe I can at least provide some good quality tequila! #TeamPartyPace”
(Heather’s note: Raquel and I are kindred spirits, from our love of late 90’s/early 00’s punk rock, to our parenting techniques, to our endless wanderlust. If I were to pick a friend to go on a spur of the moment road trip, hiking up a mountain, or heading to a concert, this would be my girl. Her laid back personality and sense of adventure make her a perfect addition to our team.)
“When invited by a trail running superstar to join her Ragnar team, feelings of hesitation will likely ensue. Will I slow the team down? Will I embarrass myself my tripping and eating dirt? But when your team is comprised of awesome, supportive folk, you give not one thought to it again. Training for this upcoming event has given me confidence and blessed me with new friendships; success! I knew I loved being on the trails; I had done a few backpacking trips and two or three trail races. That being said, I had never actually run through the trees at nighttime. I was nervous initially, but having practiced a few times in training thus far, I have to say that is the part I am most excited about (aside from the promised s’mores)! The spiders will have retreated from the Carolinas by October right…right?! “
(Heather’s Note: Kevin. Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. Always quick with a joke or hilariously inappropriate Facebook meme, Kevin is an accomplished athlete in his own right. Though he kind of refuses to run these days, and we’ve stopped asking him to do so…we know he’ll show up to Ragnar ready to go. I saw his wildly competitive side at the Krispy Kreme challenge, I have no doubt in his ability to cross that finish line.)
“I ran some last week. Did like 3 miles on the treadmill and stomped through the woods hashing with Geoffrey so I’m sort of doing some Ragnar specific training. I have however increased my bike mileage up to around 100 miles per week which seems to translate pretty well to trail running. I’m also swimming like a fish so if we get rain and y’all need someone to swim a leg or two then I’m your man.”
(Heather’s note: Paul is one of my favorite trail running friends, and anyone who has had the pleasure of running with this guy knows exactly what I’m talking about. He is fun, fast, and hilarious, and also one of the most selfless, giving people that I’ve ever met. You’ll find him passing out water, snacks, headlamps, and hats to anyone in need. And when he says “no one left behind” at a training run, this guy means it. He’ll sacrifice his training run to bring up the back of the pack, even if it means walking the entire time. He has been an integral part of helping grow our local trail running community, sharing his passion for the trails with everyone he meets. Just don’t ask him how his previous day was at work…unless you have a strong stomach!)
“Having been an avid runner for quite sometime I’ve always heard about these relay events. Sounds interesting I thought. Having been a road runner for most of my running life I’ve never thought about doing one. Fast forward life about 12 years running on the road became mindless clicking off mile after mile and becoming more and more bored with it. So about a year ago decided to hit the trails and ever since haven’t seen pavement since well only to drive on. Since hitting the trails have found so many good friends with similar interests i.e. Trail running; the bug has bitten me big time. Running 4-5 days a week and completing an Ultra, I now think I’m infected and antibiotics won’t help.
When Heather first asked me to join Ragnar I was thrilled, we have spent a good deal of time running the dirt the conversations are the best part anything from trails to misplaced foreign objects in the body. Since I’ve started, we meaning Heather and Geoffrey, we have had the pleasure of running with the most diverse group of people anyone from professionals to stay at home moms and we couldn’t be happier, everyone brings something to the table. Now that we have several teams coming from Myrtle beach S.C. Can’t wait for the camping, running and laughs. This is going to be EPIC. I believe that the one thing we will bring home is memories and those will last forever.”
So, there is my team. If I have only one hope for our Ragnar Trail Relay experience, it is that each one of these 7 people arrive back home on the Sunday after the event with a renewed love for trail running, a sense of accomplishment and belief in their abilities, and thinking “that was an incredibly fun experience…when can we do it again?”
Ragnar pros, I know you are out there. Do you have any advice for my team? Whether it be logistics, or simply some encouragement for those who are nervous? We appreciate your help!