As you all know (because I’ve been talking about it forever), I along with 11 other team mates, (all members of the group Black Girls Run!) completed the Ragnar Relay in Key West last weekend. There is so much to share, but I don’t want to do multiple post, so I’ll try to summarize it here.
We were a 12 member team who took turns running 198 miles, relay style from Miami to Key West. Each runner ran a set amount of miles, then tagged the next runner and so on. We ran 3 different legs each. We were divided in two vans based on the legs we’d be running. We also had an additional non running driver for each van. Runners 1-6 were in van 1, runners 7-12 were in van 2. I was runner 11.
This was our very first Ragnar experience so we were pretty green. The race started in waves and we had the earliest start time possible… the 5 am start. After a safety briefing, we cheered as runner 1 took off, then our van drove ahead to meet them at the exchange area where van 2 would take over.
My first leg:
After waiting for runners 1-10 to finish, by the time my turn came to run my first leg, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. My first leg was labeled “Hard 5.9 miles”. I blogged about kicking butt at Ragnar… Well, I’d have you know that the only butt kicked was mine. That distance is usually a piece of cake for me, but not at Ragnar. It was about 90 degrees, but it felt like 110. My run started on a gravel road…very difficult for me to run fast. I felt every rock and stone under my feet. I’m used to running in the Florida heat, but this was different. There was absolutely no shade. The sun was giving me such a beat down, I was begging for mercy. ( A week later and I’m still sporting my Ragnar tan lines . I quickly depleted my hand-held hydration. It was brutal and I was mentally unprepared for it.The team met me at 3.5 miles to give me water…I scarfed down half the bottle and poured the rest on my head. It felt like I’d been running for 20 miles.
When a team member is out running, the rest of the team offers van support along the way by giving hydration, a cool towel, energy supplements etc. So there’s basically no rest for the runners on or off the pavement.
Every one pretty much had a death match with the heat. Some of my team mates ran in the Everglades, in the dust, near the swamps, with the snakes and gators, during the wee hours of the night…
My second leg was an easy 2.9 miles. It was a welcomed one. It was supposed to be during the dark early morning hours, but because the team fell behind with such a difficult first leg, it pushed my run to the break of dawn. Hallelujah. The sun was just coming up and it was a tad bit cooler. I was able to keep with my expected pace and ran this leg with no issues… Soon it was van 1’s turn again.
While van 1 ran, van 2 had an opportunity to “rest”. We headed to a high school gymnasium (a rest area designated by the race directors). We were able to pay $3.00 to shower in a filthy, nasty bathroom with weak water pressure and barely any warm water. It was the best $3.00 I spent in a long time .
Finally, it was time for us to finish our final 6 legs (about 19 miles)…which would have been perfect except (because of the unexpected delays) we had to rush to beat the 8:00pm finish line cut off. Now it wasn’t about making a certain time, it was about avoiding disqualification. By this time, we’d covered a total of about 180 miles. Extremely tired and delirious, we had to give it all we had to finish on time.
This was one example were the spirit of our team shone through. One of our runner was injured. She had already completed over 16 miles in excruciating pain and her final leg was less than 2 miles. The way the team stepped up was amazing. One teammate ran her leg, while another runner gave up her own easy leg and took a harder leg so that the driver…can you believe it? Our driver stepped up and ran a leg.
My final and fastest leg:
I still had another 3.5 miles to go, over a bridge with no van support. After 36 hours of extreme fatigue and little food, I ran my third and fastest leg. It took everything we had, but we did it. We left it all on the pavement and reunited with the entire team to cross the finish line together.
Teamwork really made this dream work.
This was my experience in a nut shell. It was an amazing experience with an incredible group of women and an awesome team captain. Initially I vowed never to do it again, but after getting a good night’s rest, I’m thinking about ways to better prepare for the next one.
- Have you ever or would you ever run a Ragnar Relay?
- Would you pay $3.00 to shower?
- What was your most difficult endurance experience?