RACE: Ragnar Relay, Cape Cod
LOCATION: Cape Cod, MA
DATE: Friday and Saturday, May 8-9, 2015
LENGTH: 192 awesome miles
RUNIT RATING: Two thumbs up and rock hands (added for extra flare!)
Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to participate in the Cape Cod Ragnar Relay with eleven teammates. Some were friends, some family but most were complete strangers. If you have never heard of Ragnar, it is a series of relay events across the country, where teams of twelve (six if you are super crazy) run non-stop, day and night to reach their destination; our finish line was 192 miles away from the starting line! In spite of the anxiety and dread I felt leading up to the race, I lived to tell the tale, and in fact, Ragnar was one of my favorite races! I can easily see myself becoming a #ragnaraddict. The required mental and physical toughness, coupled with the overwhelming sense of camaraderie and team spirit, makes this race a special experience and bucket-list worthy!
Personally, what I most enjoyed about the race was my awesome team! It’s always a crap shoot as to whether or not you are going to vibe with your new teammates, but Van #2, well…we had a connection! Living together in a van for over twenty-four hours, surviving port-a-potty to port-a-potty with little sleep and smelly shoes is not an easy task. Seriously, we #nailedit! We co-existed efficiently, effectively, and enjoyed each other’s company. When we met up with Van #1-we jived; we cheered each other, supported one another, and even managed to come together for a sleep deprived, somewhat smelly, after-party experience. I feel so fortunate I could experience my first Ragnar with such a dynamic group of runners.
As a first time Ragnarian, I offer up some thoughts and advice on losing my Ragnar virginity.
(1) It’s all about ‘The Captain’. Ragnar requires a great deal of organization. Do yourself a favor, join a team or elect a captain who knows what they are doing…it makes all the difference! Our team was fortunate to have Jeff serve as captain. Being a 5 time Ragnarian, he knew what needed to get done. His organizational efforts were unrivaled. Beginning nine weeks prior to race day, we received a color coded email listing the outstanding tasks that needed to be completed. Jeff’s emails also contained encouragement and motivational running messages. Jeff planned the race from top to bottom: rented vans, allocated leg assignments, developed snack lists for each van, navigated throughout the race, and even threw a post-race shin-dig. I mean, really, Captain’s Awards for this guy!! Jeff’s organization and dedication greatly improved the race experience for our team!
(2) Get a solid team theme. Scrolling through the list of results (yeah…we finished in the top 15% of all teams!) there were some awesome names: “Where the Hull is P-Town,” “Only Here to get Shawn a Wife,” “Three Dudes and the Rest have Boobs,” and of course the best…”Where’s my SANDWICH (MA)?” In Ragnar, a good name isn’t enough; you need a tee shirt or team costume to make yourself standout. Check out these awesome custom, tech-wick tee shirts that Jumpstart: Design, Development & Brand created for our team. We looked great both on and off the course.
(3) Don’t sweat what you pack. I read several articles on what and how to properly pack for Ragnar. Before I began my first leg I realized, there will always be something you need that you didn’t pack. Don’t sweat it, your van mates will have your back. Similarly, there will always be something you packed that you won’t need…give it to your van mates. I spent a decent portion of the race in my brother-in-law’s fleece pants and my friend’s sweatshirt. Also, the idea of packing in Ziploc bags did not work out for me. I recommend packing extra plastic bags and garbage bags to place your sweaty clothes in after you have completed each leg. Lastly, bring a pair of flip-flops you intend to throw away immediately after finishing the race. I visited more port-a-potties during my Ragnar experience than I have throughout my entire life! The first thing I did when I got home was throw away my port-a-potty sandals!
(4) Focus on food (and drink). Twenty-six hours is a long time if all you have are bananas and Gatorade. It’s important to organize snack lists ahead of time. Each of our vans was stocked with water, Gatorade, bananas, pretzels, crackers, bagels, and my personal favorite…peanut butter and chocolate snack bars! Divide and conquer. Have each teammate bring one item for their van. Trust me, the stale bagel and squished banana will taste delicious after you finish your second leg at 3:30AM!
(5) Leave your boundaries and insecurities at home. Heading into the relay, I knew my pace was slower than most of the other runners. Rather than allow insecurity to get the best of me, I used the energy, experience, and awesomeness of my teammates to push me out of my comfort zone, and I nailed an 8.1 mile PR! There is no room in Ragnar for insecurity (mental or physical). You have to own each and every leg of the race to make it to the finish. Similarly, there is no room for boundaries in the Ragnar vans. Six people, living, running, sleeping and eating together…sometimes you have to roll down the windows because some “gassed” themselves in the back seat…and you know what, that’s real life, that’s real Ragnar…it’s all part of the experience.
Ragnar Cape Cod is a well organized, festive race, that challenges you both mentally and physically. If you chose to enter this race, enjoy the scenery on the course, the camaraderie, the festively decorated vans, the finisher bling, and of course your awesome teammates. It will be an experience of memory making!