Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ragnar Relay Running

This last weekend was the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay.  This is generally a 12 person relay race where each person runs 3 legs ranging from 3 to 9 miles.  The total length is 191+ miles.  Over 1,200 teams were entered with the staggered start ranging from 5:00AM to 6:00PM on Friday.  The teams are self seeded with projected times dictating where in the day they start, with the slower teams starting earliest.

Our team, The Ultra Gyno Girls, was put together almost a year ago by EC, an enthusiastic ultra running OB/Gyn friend.  She wanted to run the relay as a 6 person team and recruited JD, JD (wifey, also an OB), JH, DD, and myself.  JD and I originally committed as a show of support for wifey JD, but when she found out she was expecting (I've got a boy baking in the oven), she backed out.  Jake T was brought in as a last minute replacement.

A strained hamstring that I sustained while playing frisbee last week threatened to add 30+ miles to the other guy's legs.  But, I went for a light jog Wed night and decided to give it a try.

This is how it went:

End of Jake's 1st leg
The rest of the team drove up to Logan and got off to a mid day start while I went to work for the morning.  We rendezvoused in the town of Eden, 3 (really 6 but we were doubling up) legs into the race.  Jake took a botched handoff from Dave, who had been waiting at the exchange for 3 minutes while Jake stood in the crowd, oblivious to his presence.  Jason jumped in my car and we drove ahead to the next exchange.  The other car, now consisting of Jessie, Erin, and Dave, drove ahead to the 12th exchange where they hoped to eat and rest in preparation for their next legs.

JD blowing by some Weber guy
 Jason took off on his first leg with a former Weber State runner just in front of him, who would be handing off to former NCAA Cross Country Champion, Josh Rohatinsky.  Feeling his competitive nature surface, he ran down the Weber guy and put enough time into him to hold off Josh on the next leg.
One of the most interesting things about the Wasatch Back is the enthusiasm most teams bring to the event.  Every team has two vans, full of runners, that are decked out with car paint and various decorations.  Each team has a name and many make shirts that reflect that.  For the most part the team names are a play on words involving mild trash talking or displaying team camaraderie, but a few were more edgy and likely offensive to at least someone out there.  


Oh the language... 
 On their van????
I ran my first leg as a tribute to my man Lars Kjerengtroen, after whom I would like to name my first born son.  

Pronounced: Share-ing-tron.  Weird Norwegians.
 My first leg was up hill to the base of Snowbasin and went well enough until the last half mile when my gimpy leg tightened up causing me to limp into the finish and question my ability to finish my other two legs.  Jason and Jake were a bit worried they'd have to each run an extra 12 miles.

Captain America
At that point, I bummed some ibuprofen from another team, ate some pizza and bagels, and we drove ahead to try and get some rest before our next legs.

The drive was entertaining with all the costumes and the beautiful scenery.

Erin, Jessie, and Dave ran well and likely passed hundreds of runners advancing the baton through the night.  Jake was up next and was pretty psyched for his mostly down hill leg.  He thought it would be cold so dressed in long sleeves under his reflective vest.  
He was wrong and was soon bearing a fine midriff.

Sorry ladies.  Jake T has a girl.  

Jason getting the baton for the second time

My next leg was 12.4 miles and after the first 10 minutes, my leg loosened up enough to run relatively unfettered.  By now the routine was run, eat, drive, try to sleep, and repeat.  This went on a couple more times before all that was left was Jake's long 14+ mile last leg to the finish line.

Jason handing off after a strong run up to Gaurdsman Pass from Heber Valley.  Jake is off to a fast flat footed start.

Jake was my hero as he traded legs with me to allow me run a flat section since my leg preferred that to the hills.  This left him with the long 14 mile leg pounding section down from Gaurdsman.  Thinking the BYU team (eventual winners who started 6 hours after us) was hot on his heels, he sprinted in to the transition.

We made him down some gels and then sent him on his way to the finish line.

Wide eyed with a mission


24 hours and 40 minutes later

6 runners
191.6 miles
24:40: and change of running
A lot of gels, pizza, bagels, chips, pretzels...

Initially I was slightly chaffed to have to spend two of my only free days this month running a goofy relay when I could have been in the mountains.  Turns out the goofy spirit of the race was contagious and I think we all had a good time in spite of being ill prepared.  Might even be back next year.  

1 comment:

  1. u know u love goofy races. i was hoping to see some puff paint t-shirts, or a large probably offensive sticker on the back of your vehicle... glad JD got a little fire under him on that first leg.