Ragnar Keys. Teamwork makes the dream work

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.

The basics:

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.

Ragnar team H&S

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.

Ragnar exchange 1 Collage

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.

Ragnar highlightsCollage

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.

A highlight:

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.

All Heart.

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. 

Ragnar offical finish pic edited

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?
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26 thoughts on “Ragnar Keys. Teamwork makes the dream work

  1. Kim

    I loved reading this!! I can tell how awesome your team was just reading about everyone pitching in and helping out an injured teammate – I love that even the driver ran!!!
    It sounds like y’all had some brutal running conditions – the shoulder on that bridge looks pretty small!
    Yes, I would totally pay $3.00 for a shower even if it was just a rinse off!!!
    Kim recently posted…Racing – Then and NowMy Profile

  2. Alison Hector

    Well, congrats to you, Hope. You are a strong woman. Just looking at the picture of that gravel path gave me the willies. Your description of the camaraderie and team spirit reminds me of doing the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in 2007. It sure did call for endurance and perseverance! At times when we had to do hills, things got uber quiet as people regulated their breathing to adjust to the slopes. And then on flat ground, there was much chat and support.

    Three dollars for a shower? Yes. Even if it was as sucky as the one you described! LOL If I was in a race like that, I’d pay to feel fresh. Yes indeed!
    Alison Hector recently posted…Everything that countsMy Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      Thanks Alison! I know exactly what you mean. That’s the same thing that happens on our group runs. One minute we’re chit chatting and all of a sudden it’s quiet…the pace increased or we’re inclining. lol.

      It was probably a little worse than I described..lol. not to mention waiting in a long line for a stall and having nowhere to place your things..lol

  3. Michell

    WOW Hope!! How are you gonna top this one girl?! I’m impressed AND proud of you and your “dream” team!! You.go.girls!! Would I ever do a Ragnar Relay…hahaha, you’re kidding me right?! Nope, never, nada, negative, no way, not at all…NO! 😀 I’ll leave that to the grown folk like you! And Hope, what did you expect from a HIGH school gymnasium, lol!! My most difficult endurance experience to date…my first two births, lol! Again…congrats girl on a job well done!! Have a good one! :-)
    Michell recently posted…Mastering YOU Monday…parenting 101My Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      LOL Michell. Thank you. Funny enough, I can see you being a Ragnar team captain .lol
      I don’t know what I expected from a high school gym. I heard $3.00 shower and I jumped at the opportunity.lol
      I’d have to agree with you on the childbirth. I think those definitely topped Ragnar :)

  4. Allie

    I had goosebumps reading the finish!!! WOW!!!! That sounds amazingly awful and exhilarating at the same time. What an experience!! Here I am complaining about running in 14 degree weather this morning when some of your teammates were running in the dark with gators and snakes?? I’ll take the 14 degrees! GOOD FOR YOU! You should all be extremely proud.
    Allie recently posted…The Rundown: Payoff WeekMy Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      LOL Allie! Those are great words to describe our experience…”amazingly awful AND exhilarating at the same time”. I hated the heat, but I don’t think I’d be able to even move in 14 degrees. I’d be a popsicle.lol

      I literally begged to be runner 11 to avoid running the Everglades swamp with the gators and snakes…

  5. Tamara

    Whoa! And the people running in the night around snakes and gators!! Although 90 degrees sounds obscene to me because we were lucky to reach 25 today!
    This is intense. Everyone helping each other. No rest..for anyone.
    Yes, I would pay $3.00 for a nasty shower after a race. I’d probably pay more than that!
    Tamara recently posted…One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Des Fish.My Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      Yes Tamara! It was crazy. Usually when it’s 90 degrees here, I run inside or not at all, not in the blazing heat.lol
      It was great how supportive everyone was.
      I don’t think that HS realized how much $ they could have made…I would have paid more also :)

  6. KalleyC

    Wow! What an experience! I love how the team came together to offer support. I know if I was there I would be crying happy tears (like I am now-hormonal is my excuse). I’m glad it was an amazing experience, for you and everyone involved! I have never ran in a race or competed, but reading about this makes me want to train to sign up for one!
    KalleyC recently posted…Secrets of New York CityMy Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      LOL. I love that you’re hormonal :) but there were tears of joy…and lots of swearing (not form me though :) )but it is an experience that I won’t forget.

      I totally think you should. It’s a great way to get in shape and it also relieves stress. Would love to read your journey if you do :)

  7. Joi

    This is all so amazing to me. Something about you runners is magical to me. I absolutely don’t have any desire to do this to answer your question, lol! I am so proud of you all though. I would pay that and much more to take a shower. Ewh, sorry it was so nasty, I hate weak water pressure. That picture of you starting and passing off the baton is a riot! Congratulations to you and your girls for enduring all that went along with this. S/O to the driver for jumping in and helping save the day! Great summary!
    Joi recently posted…15 Reasons I Will Love Your BlogMy Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      Thanks Joi. Sometimes the camaraderie and community of runners is just that…magical. It really was a great experience. It’s planning season for next years run…and I’m officially sitting it out.lol

  8. Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama

    You guys LOOK beautiful! I can only imagine how you started and how you ended LOL, that pic is so funny! So strong and determined in the beginning and by the end begging for mercy. What an adventure!

    You guys did such a great thing, I am really amazed at this challenge, I don’t think I could ever do something like this ever. I can only imagine the sun beating down on me. So to endure that while running? Chile you are better than me.

    Such a great example of teamwork. All of you pitching in to take care of the injured runner then the driver running too? So incredibly awesome. LOVE!

    I would pay a million dollars for a shower. That was relatively cheap!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…Weekly Wednesday Workout: Side V-UpsMy Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      Thank you Nellie. begging for mercy was an understatement.lol. But the overall experience was one that I’ll never forget. Yep, that shower was cheap, but totally priceless :)

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