Ragnar is 24(ish) hour running relay race with twelve people, two vans, and a whole lot of stoke. I’ve heard it described as a slumber party except that you trade sleep, pillows, and deodorant for running, getting lost in the middle of the night, and theme songs played endlessly on repeat (Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen). This is the third year that I’ve done Ragnar New England with my friends from College and it’s one of the traditions we look forward to all year long. This year Ragnar changed up the course from New Haven to Boston in favor of Plymouth to Provincetown. In previous years it’s been more like 194 miles total but this year it was 176 so the mileage per person was reduced by close to two miles each. The way it works is that runners 1-6 hop into Van 1 and runners 7-12 hop into Van 2.
Starting with runner 1, each runner runs their leg and passes the baton (read: reflective snap bracelet, brilliant idea) to the next runner. Meanwhile Van 2 is just hanging out or cheering on runners from Van 1. When runner 6 from Van 1 finishes their leg, they pass it off to runner 7 of Van 2, reaching a resting point for Van 1. This continues until each person has run 3 legs where a leg can range from 3-9 miles.
My first leg was around dinner time on Friday and I ran 5 miles at a 7:20 pace. My heart rate min/max/average was 125/171/157. I definitely felt like I was hustling but I probably could have run faster had I not worn a Japanese fighter pilot helmet from WWII for my first two miles. We were going for the Top Gun theme so I had to go all out on the first leg, subsequent legs I probably wouldn’t have had the energy to be in a ridiculous costume. Totally worth it though.
My second leg was also 5 miles but it was in the middle of the night, pretty much a straight shot down route 130. I managed not to get lost because of how simple my route was, but other legs are a bit more complicated and getting lost is likely to happen. There are blinking signs at most confusing intersections but it wouldn’t be an adventure if you were well rested and knew exactly where you were going the whole time. My heart rate min/max/average was 83/166/152.
My third leg was pretty early in the morning on Saturday and it was only supposed to be 3 miles so I decided to run it hard. I’m convinced that it was actually longer than 3 miles (distances are often approximate, “1mile to go” is more like “1-ish miles to go”). It took me 25 minutes and I should have finished in 22min due to my pace and my min/max/average heart rate of 116/179/161, not bad for an early morning run off 1 hour of sleep.
My total mileage came out to be bout 14 miles which in itself is not terribly bad because I run pretty frequently. However, running 5 miles, stopping, waiting 4-5 hours, running another 5 miles, waiting 4-5 hours, sleeping 1 hour, and running another 4 miles is pretty taxing mentally and physically. Especially when you’re eating nothing but cliff bars, brownies and PB&J sandwiches. After you finish each leg your body thinks you’re done so getting it restarted again is tough but the energy of your team and the teams around you make it easier to man up and restart the engine. When you gear up for your middle of the night run you just have to think to yourself, “Holy crap, this is so cool”. It reminds of me of this great blog post on semi-rad.com about Enthusiasm.
I definitely recommend signing up for one of these races. The logistics can be tough and you’ll need a good team Captain who’s committed and organized but it’s all worth it. It’s a ton of fun and also happens to be one hell of a workout. I don’t think there’s any other time of the year where my heart rate hits 166-179 beats per minute in three separate workouts within 24 hours. EPIC. Sign up for one now http://www.ragnarrelay.com/