OH Ragnar, what an epic story of a love hate relationship I have there. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Ragnar, but I hate the sore legs that come after it lol. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll keep this to just the specifics of the race itself. Basically, it started with an idea that came up shortly before Ragnar Florida Sprint, and was confirmed after seeing it would be a van of some really cool people, whom I would mostly know.
I flew in early Thursday morning, and would shortly meet Katie at the airport, followed by Nicole, then Addy & Hector (Haddy).
Upon meeting we took a quick uber ride over the the offsite Enterprise (shout out to captain for going away from the airport saving us all $$$ on van rental fees). A short wait later, we had our future home for the weekend and headed off to a Van 1 lunch, Jimmy Mac’s BBQ, and was shortly joined by some Van 2 members, Stephanie & Amanda, plus Amanda’s husband.
Many laughs and jokes later, and it was time to head up to Bellingham, WA. Nicole are I were set to volunteer at packet pickup to save on volunteer fees, and I could get my hat. When we arrived about 30 minutes before our shift, no one was there, so we opted to check into the room and come back later. We were eventually assigned to work the Reebok tent, and I had a blast being there handing out captain gifts and encouraging team pictures.
It wasn’t before long until it was time to head to hotel to get prepare for the adventure ahead of us the next day. But, as tradition would have it, Katie and I shared a room (Emily would be joining later), and we had to have our bottle of wine in paper cups as we did last year in So Cal.
Wine, and me talking later, Emily’s arrival, we were soon fast asleep, and awake just as quickly to kick things off. The entire team was staying at the hotel so we all met downstairs for breakfast and for Van 2 to send off us Van 1 folks. We had a 7:00am start time, and about a 30 minute drive up to Blaine, WA. Katie would be our first runner to start us off, but we wouldn’t dare go without first taking pictures of us at the border, or leave without taking more pictures. It was honestly just a gorgeous place to be at, adding in the Canada border just made it even more exciting.
So technically I crossed the border, but I didn’t as well. I know… it’s complicated. lol
I was set to be runner 4. So let me just quickly recap… due to the team paces, we were informed that our team would need to utilize the leap frog method. This meant that we would double up runners on some legs, and skip over the next set. For the first rotation everyone ran their legs, unless you were Haddy, and on the next two rotations Haddy would run Addy’s assigned legs plus my last one for extra distance, and Katie and I would run her legs.
Now, my first leg was great. Lots of downhill, and minimal uphills, but they were still there. I was super impressed with my time, and it honestly felt good to know I could crank out a 10:09 mile with some “incline” as my team would say. But as fate would have it slowed down for the final two miles, but still brought in a 11:01 pace, and I’ll take it. I would pay for this on later legs, but whatever. It was gorgeous, it was sunny out so I did get warm, but it was nothing compared to Texas. Nothing.
In a short 3.2 miles, I was handing off to Haddy to run Hector’s assigned first legs. Before we knew it, it was time for our van to be off, and we retreated to Red Robin… and Rite Aid… and nap time.
It didn’t seem like there was much time in between our first set of legs and our next, perhaps because I was runner 4 and I was going out with runner 1 in the next rotation, or maybe it was the endless amount of laughs and jokes, who knows. But after a small miscommunication mishap, Katie and I found ourselves rushing to the exchange to get the bracelet from Van 2 Canadian Superstars, Trish and Shannon.
We had a 4.5 mile leg coming up and we were both excited as the sun was just setting, and we knew we would come along a river with a potential for some beautiful scenery… and it was.
Once again, some hills up and down, and were at Nicole to begin her second leg.
And like clockwork, we were once again “off” and ready to begin to wind down for the night once Emily brought in the bracelet for Van 2 to start their second rotation. Let me say that the community support was amazing and they were ready for Ragnar. Typically you’re searching high and low for nearby food at Ragnar, but it seemed like every major exchange (high schools), all had some sort of food option. Exchange 18 in particular had a $10 spaghetti dinner that include, spaghetti (duh), salad, roll, water or lemonade, and ice cream.
Just the convenience factor of it made it really appealing, and knowing it was going back to a school made it even better. Katie and I both mentioned how great it sounded when walking to the indoor bathroom (lots of bathrooms and showers at this race, you could shower at every major exchange), and when Haddy said they were going back for spaghetti we jumped out the van to follow.
Emily and Nicole stayed back to catch a few moment of sleep. After refueling in our unique ways, we were off Exchange 24 to wait for out last leg.
Our last leg was pretty simple in theory 3.2 miles… but there were lots of hills. But it helps us to balance out, I’m a strong downhill runner, and Katie was a strong uphill runner. I would use the downhills to push the pace, and Katie would steadily run up the hill to help keep me motivated to run more versus walking all of it.
Before we knew it, were were done. I must say, I really enjoyed the leapfrog. Even though we didn’t really talk, just having that extra person there was nice, for safety reasons, and accountability and desire to push harder for your team. If you ever have the option to do it, I would highly recommend it.
Again, a few rotations later, and we were at the funniest leg ever. Emily agreed to split part of her leg with Haddy so that Addy could get the extra miles she wanted to reach 26 miles. They were supposed to run two miles of it, but somehow only got one… and still somehow Emily still ended up running 5.6, when it should’ve been 3.6 or 4.6 after Haddy only getting in a one mile. As a result, Addy was nearly carried back to the van as she protested for us to let her run one more mile.
Now this is the part I don’t want to discuss. As mentioned before the race director requested that we leapfrog to finish on time. While we did this, Van 2 did not. Van 2 had a different agenda to run all the legs, their’s or not, for the sake of it. I respect their desire to do so, but what was done in their van was unacceptable in my opinion and forced two of their van members to leave the race early. Taking legs away because you can run them faster is not okay, and no one gets that right besides the person who’s they belong to. The purpose of doubling up is to skip a leg to save time, not to put a faster runner in there. Because of those choices we were at risk of not finishing until 8 (cut off), and being stuck in the long ferry line and not getting in until almost midnight. Due to this, Van 2 suggested we went ahead and went to the finish to collect medals so we could head back, and they would get their’s later. This was not the only option, they still could’ve leapfrogged, but everyone wanted to do a solo leg. After this last exchange their van was left with 6 legs, and four runners, one who was insanely injured.
Because of this we did cross the line early, and I couldn’t even bring myself to run it across because I knew something wasn’t there, and we technically weren’t finished. Even with the okay from the race director. I knew something was missing. What was missing was Van 2, and the interaction we should’ve had between them, and the collective team between 12 runners. Unfortunately not every race can work out that way, but it did. Ultimately I still had a great time with my van and I regret nothing. I still ran three legs so I had no problem with getting my medal a bit early. We were able to actually get out and spend maybe only an hour in the ferry line (apparently the wait after NWP can be up to six hours), and we did not have to make the 3 hour drive up and around.
Upon arriving at the hotel and showering, we had a team dinner, and team drinks (minus our captain Nicole who did most of driving, and coordinating all of this, so she deserved some peace and quiet), and we said our good-bye’s as some had early flights.
The adventures would continue on the next day for some of us, but at the moment NWP ended, and we all had a great time. I’m just really happy I got to run this race with people I know, because it was one of those rare bucket list Ragnar’s for me. If you ever have the chance to do it, I highly recommend it because it’s gorgeous, and like I mentioned, the community is amazing. The logistics are hard with the nearest major airport being two hours away, but it’s oh so worth it.
But for now… I’ll rest and think about the next adventure in front of me.
Happy Running Y’all!