This past weekend Barry and I joined ten other runners in the DC Ragnar Relay. The relay was roughly 199 miles from Cumberland, MD to the National Harbor in Washington, D.C. It started on Friday morning and finished Saturday afternoon. Our team had a start time of 9:00 AM, and van 1 was up bright and early in Cumberland to get things rolling. I was a part of van 2 along with Candy, Deb, Chuck, Barry, and Bill (Deb’s husband). My dad was our faithful driver and he drove the entire weekend without ever needing a relief driver!
Our van met at Chuck’s house around 10:00 AM on Friday morning. We got all of our stuff packed into the van and most importantly decorated the van windows!
We had a 15 passenger van for the weekend, and we took out the very last row of seats so that we would have more cargo space. Everyone got their stuff loaded in and then it was time to hit the road.
We were headed to exchange 6 at a campground in Little Orleans, Maryland. Once there, we would check in and receive our stuff (bibs, t-shirts, etc.), attend a safety briefing, and then take over from van 1.
On the drive there we went by a rest area with a pretty overlook. Perfect photo op for the van 2 runners!
After about 2 hours we arrived at exchange 6. About an hour later van 1 handed off to Candy (runner #7, and our first runner from the van) who took off at full steam.
After that the game was on! Candy ran a strong leg and handed off to Deb. Both of them had really tough first legs, but they crushed it! I would tell you what Deb said about her leg and a certain Sideling Hill that she ran up, but I would probably have to change the rating on my blog to mature 🙂 You’ll have to ask her. Deb handed off to me for my first leg, and then I handed off to Chuck. After his leg, Chuck passed off to Barry, who handed off to Bill. Bill was our final runner, so at the end of his first leg he handed back off to van 1 (sometime around 9PM, I think). This sequence continued until the end of the race.
For many of the legs, we were able to drive the same route as our runner and cheer them on along the way. There were several opportunities to pull over along the side of the road and create cheering groups. Other legs were “no van support” legs, which meant the van wasn’t allowed to pull over during the runner’s leg and/or the van had to drive a separate route than the runner.
The first time van 2 passed back off to van 1, we only had about 4 hours before we would take over again. Bill and Barry grabbed showers at a local high school that offered them as a fundraiser, and Candy and Chuck grabbed some food at the spaghetti dinner there. The rest of us chilled in the van and tried to grab some shuteye (which didn’t happen). We swung by Chick-fil-a on our way to the next major exchange to wait for van 1. We were parked right next to the exchange point, so again it was too loud to sleep. Barry was the only smart one and he went off and found somewhere quiet. Despite getting no sleep, this was a really neat exchange. It was held at a creamery. Bill got an awesome long exposure photo at this exchange:
Amazing photograph, right!? Somewhere around 1 AM van 1 handed back off to Candy and we were off to the races again. Everyone was running really strong and we had actually banked about 15 minutes or so at this point from our projected times.
All of the night legs went well. No one got lost or had any other emergencies (no skunks!). Right at the end of Barry’s leg, just before he handed off to Bill it started to rain. Bill had a tough 11 mile leg that started around 5:30 in the morning and it was chilly and rainy. We made our way to the next major exchange and after about an hour Bill came running in strong and handed off to van 1 for their final set of legs. After grabbing some food and coffee we headed to what we thought was the next major exchange (more on that in a second…) and finally settled down. Here, after being up for nearly 26 hours, I was able to grab a 20 minute nap. I was practically delirious at that point.
A few hours later we were getting updates from van 1 and waiting to switch off with them again. While trying to locate each other, we realized we were at the wrong exchange! Luckily we were only one exchange ahead, and the one we were supposed to be at was really close. We raced over to it and got Candy dropped off in time to receive the hand off from van 1. Then we went back to where we had been, which was actually where Deb would take over. We were getting closer to the end! Only 6 legs to go.
We had another rain shower during this last set of legs and hit another snafu at the exchange from Chuck to Barry. We used the wrong information (the stuff from Ragnar had the wrong estimated paces for the final legs) for Chuck’s run and missed him by 12 minutes! Luckily Barry and I found him walking up to the exchange after he had been down trying to find us in the parking area, and Barry was able to take off. It was raining pretty hard during all of that, which made it even worse. But it worked out, and before we knew it Bill was taking over from Barry to run it into the finish!
Then it was time to head over to the National Harbor to meet up with van 1 and to wait for Bill. We had decided to run into the finish together, as a team. As I mentioned at the beginning of this very long post (if you can remember that far back) my Dad drove our van all weekend. He was awesome and it took a huge burden off of us, because we never had to worry about who was driving. He never even needed a break in over 31 hours of dragging us all over Maryland, Virginia, and DC.
We got down to National Harbor with just enough time to meet up with Van 1 and wait for Bill. The rain had stopped at this point, which was nice.
Shortly thereafter, he came barreling down the path and we joined in for a final sprint to the finish line.
As soon as we crossed the finish line we got a group picture. Funny story: A Ragnar lady asked if she could grab a team photo for their Instagram page, so our team was the only one to be featured as a group at the finish line! How cool.
They had free beer at the finish line, and each van got a Little Ceaser’s pizza. I was definitely ready to partake in that after everything! Bill and Deb’s son Joseph and his new wife Julie (whom I met at the 3.2 for 32 last year through Deb) happened to be working the pizza booth, so we got to see them.
Once we all had our fill of the finish line festivities, we piled back into van 2 and headed back to Chuck’s house. Our team ended up completing the relay in 30:59:14, for a 9:16/mile average. Ragnar had us projected to finish in a little over 32 hours, but we pulled it off in under 31!
Overall it was an epic weekend, as so many told me it would be. We had a lot of fun, but I was also more tired than I have ever been in my life. Once we got home, we grabbed showers, ate dinner, and then watched the Virginia Tech game. Barry stayed up until halftime, but my Dad and I watched the whole thing (in the end we lost, boo). We were both really struggling, but managed to stay up until 11:00 PM to finish the game. All in all, I was up from 7:00 AM Friday to 11:00 PM Saturday with only a 20 minute nap thrown in. The 11.5 hours I slept on Saturday night were much needed 🙂
If you have run a relay, how exhausted were you at the end?
If you haven’t run a relay before, would you do one after reading this?
P.S. I’m going to do separate recaps for each of the legs I ran during the relay. Ragnar overload.
P.P.S. Barry’s 30th birthday was yesterday. Everyone wish him a Happy Birthday!! 🙂