Ragnar Wasatch Back

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I thought I knew what Ragnar was about. I’d run in relays before, but never one this long of a distance or with this many participants. HUGE DIFFERENCE! Going into this race I knew that it would be hard. If you continue to read the full review you’ll find out why.

PRE-RACE

A couple of months prior to race day some friends of my husband and I contacted us and said they may or may not have a couple of openings for the Ragnar Wasatch Back team. We committed to running it without having a sure spot. About a week prior they had one opening which my husband filled. Two days before the event Emily sent me a text that read, “Are you ready to run on Friday? We’ve got a spot open for you!” OH MY GOSH! I was SOOO excited! There was so much to do before the race!

I promptly found childcare for my kiddos and started getting together all of the necessary items. In what seemed like a blink of an eye my alarm went off at 4:45 AM on Friday morning. We met our team van #1 at 5:45 AM in Salt Lake City. We transferred all of our gear to our team vehicle and we left for Logan. It was fun to see all of the other Ragnar vans and SUVs on the road on the way there. We got to the start of the race at 7:45 AM. We went through the safety orientation, got our swag bag and walked to the starting line. Our van 1 were as follows – #1 Phil (ultra runner, super fast, has been running longer than I’ve been alive), #2 Me (multisport for the past few years), #3 Spencer (runner, BFF with my hubby and me), #4 Colette (marathon runner, super fast), #5 Cameron (my husband, runner, sexiest man alive), #6 Emily (runner, wife of Spencer, also BFF with my hubby and me).

Startling Line

Startling Line

1ST LEGS

Phil got to the starting line just minutes before our start time of 8:15, just in time for the rain to start pouring. Phil rocked the first leg and handed the Ragnar slap bracelet to me at the exchange point. My first leg was 8.7 miles long. The first couple of miles the rain was just pouring and pouring. The rain actually ended up being a good thing. It kept things nice and cool. My support van stopped to cheer me on at mile 2 and I stripped off my jacket and gave it to them. The first couple of miles were through city streets and then it turned on a less traveled road through farmland.  At this point the runners were unsupported. It was BEAUTIFUL! My pace was probably too fast but, oh well, I was having a blast. At one point I even drafted behind Sonic the Hedgehog. Yep, we were going that fast.

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Me – before my 1st run

Right after an aid station, another woman and I were running the same pace so I ran right next to her, side by side. We held that for two or three blocks. During that time I felt an instant bond with her. Our legs were running at the same cadence, our pace was the same; even our breathing seemed to match up. We never spoke to one another, probably because we were both rocking out to our own tunes. At that moment everything seemed right with the world. I don’t think she felt the same way because she picked up the pace and left me in the dust! Ha!

Taken during my 1st run. Pic doesn't do it justice.

Taken during my 1st run. Pic doesn’t do it justice.

At around mile 7 I started to wonder why this leg was rated as very hard and then the course turned a corner and went straight up a nice long hill. Oh! That’s why! I passed a guy decked out in ironman gear. I was so tempted to let up and just walk the hill but having Mr. Ironman right on my heels pressured me and I powered up it and kept cruising along.

The course at this point had a slight downhill and I let my body lean into it. I saw the exchange just a couple of blocks away and picked up my pace. I passed a lot of people coming into the exchange. I took off the slap bracelet and managed to fumble it while trying to snap it on Spencer’s wrist. Do’h! After running in strong I got the humiliating groan of disapproval because I fumbled the bracelet. Ha! All of our runners in our van rocked their runs and we were doing great on keeping on schedule.

2ND LEGS

My van finished up their first legs at around noon and we handed the bracelet off to van two. This was the first major exchange. It was at the park in Liberty and there were a ton of people there! We got back in our van and headed out to find some lunch. We stopped at Luis’ in Eden. It’s a hidden Mexican restaurant right off the main road. The food was fresh and delicious! Even better was while we enjoyed the food we watched the traffic jam from the window start to ease up just as we finished with our meals. We then headed to a cabin in Eden to rest up a bit and take showers. All of us were able to get in a quick shower before we had to head out to the next major exchange. I thought we’d have a lot of down time between major exchanges but we really didn’t. By the time we ate, got to the cabin, and showered it was time to head out again.

We made it to the next major exchange which was up at Snow Basin. There were of course a ton of people there. I ran into some familiar faces which was fun. I even saw some people who I didn’t expect to see there. That’s the thing about Ragnar. People will run Ragnar who aren’t avid runners, which is crazy because it’s not easy! Everyone ends up running over a half marathon distance in miles and on a difficult course to boot!

Me - right before my 2nd run.

Me – right before my 2nd run.

I started my next leg (#14, 3.2 miles long) just before quiet time started (8 PM).  Even though there was plenty of daylight I had to wear a reflective vest, rear red flashing light and a headlamp. I’m glad Ragnar takes these steps to ensure the safety of all the runners on the road. I’ve never worn a headlamp and sunglasses at the same time before though. I ended up starting out too fast again. It was then that my previous run started to wear on me. I got passed by another strong female runner and tried to pace off of her but no dice. There was a nice hill in the last half mile. I broke my stride and walked for about five paces. I looked back and every single person on the hill was walking it. I again sucked it up and started up the hill. Once I made it to the top I let my pace pick up as I made my way back down the hill and into the exchange. I got the slap bracelet ready and made sure not to fumble it this time! I was pretty tired after I finished that leg of the race.

Once it got dark the temperature dropped but it wasn’t too bad outside. As we were coming up on the next major exchange we hit traffic again. In some of the previous minor exchanges we had hit traffic and our runners had to get out and run in to the exchange in order to make it there before the previous runner got there. All the runners were making their way up this major climb to the next exchange. All you could see in the pitch blackness of the wilderness was the runners’ backs in the headlights as they made their way up the hill and the long line of car tail lights in front of us. As I was watching the runners make the climb a full moon suddenly appeared in our headlights! Yep, some guy was flashing his bare butt cheeks to all the vans all the way to the top! It was the last thing I expected to see! Haha! There was nothing the cars could do about it, unless someone decided to chase him. I tip my hat to that guy because it sure woke all of us up! Emily did an awesome job powering up that mountain. I was super impressed!

We made it to the next major exchange at the top of the mountain. We again handed off the slap bracelet to our van two. We knew someone who owned a cabin in Oakley (next major exchange) so we drove the hour and a half to get there. I was so delirious at this point. I was in and out of sleep. I remember saying the same phrases over and over again. I remember thinking that Spencer was going to fall asleep while driving and that we’d all probably die. For some reason I wasn’t too concerned. This goes to show how tired I was. Spencer got us there just fine without any incidents. We got into bed at 2 AM and set the alarm at 5 AM in order to make it to the next major exchange.

3RD LEGS

Me - Right before my last run.

Me – Right before my last run.

We made it to the exchange and started our last legs. My last leg (#26) was 3.6 miles long. My legs were sore and stiff but felt much better once I got going. I was SO tired for this last run. So were the other runners because many were walking and didn’t look very happy. As I came in strong to the exchange I handed the slap bracelet off to Spencer for the last time. I was so happy that I didn’t have any more legs to run. I was DONE!. Our van finished up our last legs and was at the last major exchange. Our van 2 was nowhere to be found. We had made up some lost time and they were stuck in traffic! They ended up getting delayed by 40 minutes.

Spencer photo bombing Cameron and me. Why yes, Spencer is sporting a temporary mustache tattoo.

Spencer photo bombing Cameron and me. Why yes, Spencer is sporting a temporary mustache tattoo.

Spencer and Emily. Emily had just finished the very last leg for our van.

Spencer and Emily. Emily had just finished the very last leg for our van.

POST RUNNING

Some of our team chose to take a shower at the high school in Heber. Others decided to just sit under a tree for some rest. After about an hour we went and got some food at Granny’s Drive-in. The milkshakes there were heavenly. We then drove to Park City, found a parking spot and slept in the shade of a big office building. There was a lot of that going on during the entire race. People sleeping in public places (open fields, under trees, in cars, on sidewalks, etc). Anywhere they could fit a sleeping bag was appropriate. After a couple of hours of sleep I walked over to a local place to use their bathroom. When I went to leave the front door was locked! I caught the last person walking out the back door to open the door for me. I was nearly locked inside the restaurant!

After we were done sleeping we made our way over to the finish line at around 4 PM. We checked out the vendor booths and the Ragnar store. Our last van 2 runner came into the finish at around 5 PM. We all crossed the finished line together and got our finishers medals and Ragnar window stickers. DONE AND DONE!  Way to go team! We didn’t stay for the after party and headed home soon after we crossed the finish line.

FINISH LINE!

FINISH LINE!

There were a lot of things that surprised me about Ragnar. One of the most surprising things was how exhausted I was. It wasn’t necessarily from the total mileage run but more from the lack of sleep. We were always on the go. The little breaks we did have were used to get food and make it to the next major exchange on time. I cannot even imagine doing an ultra team! They never get a single break!

While on every leg I kept thinking about how much respect I have for all of the participants. It was not an easy race to do and I cannot believe there were 12,000 runners (1,000 teams) who participated! Huge props to Ragnar for being able to direct that many runners, volunteers, vehicles, vendors, and other participants. Some of the things I really appreciated were: lots of honey buckets at every stop, 1 mile to go signs on every leg, having the volunteers yell out the team numbers that were coming into the exchanges, and many other small things that made a big difference. The organization of the event was superbly done. Every volunteer I encountered seemed positive and educated. The last part being so crucial. I’m sure it’s incredibility difficult to manage that many runners let alone having a course that’s nearly 200 miles long!

It was a non-stop party for nearly 33 hours. I had the best group to run with! Spencer was constantly blasting techno beats and ringing the cowbell non-stop. Emily is just awesome and did a fantastic job as a van captain. Phil who had every possible item we could ever need was the MacGyver of Ragnar. This was his 17th Ragnar and his knowledge and experience was greatly appreciated. He gave me some moleskin for a blister that formed after my first leg and saved me from lots of pain and grief for my other legs.  Colette was so fun to get to know and was great to chat with. She is an awesome runner who sped through her runs as if they were no trouble at all. Lastly, my husband Cameron. It was a fun race but being able to do it together was what made it great! I recommend all husbands and wives participate in it together. You’ll be closer because of it. Big thanks to Jacobsen Construction for letting us be a part of their corporate team! Ragnar Wasatch Back 2014 is in the books!

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Me and my hubby

Van 1 - Emily, Spencer, Colette, Phil, Me, Cameron

Van 1 – Emily, Spencer, Colette, Phil, Me, Cameron

The entire Jacobsen Construction Team 2

The entire Jacobsen Construction Team 2

STATS

My 1st leg (#2) – 8.7 miles, 420 feet of elevation gain, rated very hard. 8:35 min/mile average pace, 17 kills (people I passed), got passed once.

My 2nd leg (#14) – 3.2 miles, 175 feet of elevation gain, rated easy. 8:40 min/mile average page, 25 kills, got passed once.

My 3rd leg (#26) – 3.6 miles, 140 feet of elevation gain, rated easy. 8:40 min/mile average, 20 kills, got passed twice.

Total – 15.5 miles, 735 feet of elevation gain, 8:37 min/mile average, 62 kills, got passed 4 times.

*I gave birth 7 months ago. My running speed isn’t even close to what it use to be but I’m working hard to get back to where I use to be. :]

TEAM TOTALS

Jacobsen Construction Team #2, Team #576

196.5 miles, 15,863 feet of elevation gain, 32:55:32, 10:03 min/mile average pace.

212 out of 795 open mixed team

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Rachel