Having run both types of Ragnar relays, I thought it would be fun to do a compare/contrast of the two.
The short and sweet:
Take a Ragnar Road Relay… Swap the pavement for dirt, vans for tents, a team of 12 for a team of 8, and transition areas for Ragnar Village….. and you have a Ragnar Trail.
The nitty gritty:
A regular Ragnar Relay consists of a team of twelve (or 6 for ultra’s) that traditionally travels in two vans. Conversely, a Ragnar Trail consists of a team of eight (or 4 for ultra’s) and everyone camps in tents at a central location during the event.
Ragnar relay is a point to point course, and utilizes exchange points to transition from one runner to the next. Every runner on the team has his/her own bib (all with the same team number) and a slap bracelet is used as a relay baton. Each runner has his/her own set of legs, and the total distance covered by an individual runner varies.
A Ragnar Trail relay takes place in one central location, and one main transition area (“Ragnar Village”) is used to transition from one runner to the next. Each relay team has one bib on a belt that is passed from one runner to the next. A colored slap bracelet is used to indicate which loop the current runner is running. Runners start and end each leg in the same transition area and everyone runs the same set of three legs and the same total distance.
A Ragnar Road relay requires nighttime safety gear (reflective vest, blinking light, headlamp). There are also a lot of rules about getting in/out of the van and having a reflective vest on at all times during certain overnight hours. Nighttime runs are also the only time a runner is allowed to have a pacer with him/her. A Ragnar Trail relay only requires a headlamp. Runners are also allowed to have one pacer running with them at any time during the event (in our case, my team buddied up with another team and we stuck together the whole time).
At a Ragnar Road relay, you may get wet, if it rains. At a Ragnar Trail relay, you will definitely get wet and most likely will get extremely muddy as well! When you take your rain-soaked self back home, bear in mind that the Ragnar road relay has TSA-approved medals, while the Ragnar Trail does not. In keeping with the camping theme, the Ragnar Trail relay has a finisher’s medal that doubles as a multiuse tool.
You can expect to get a minimal amount of sleep at both relay events. That is just the way it goes at a Ragnar! Both events involve running in the dark in the middle of the night. Both have safety rules associated with the event, although I felt the road relay was stricter. And of course, both relays were a blast and definitely bucket list running experiences!
Having done both, which did I like better?
Overall, my favorite was our Ragnar road relay. I expected to like the trail one more, with the trails and camping and all. But a big reason for my preference for the road relay is the weather conditions we faced at the trail version. I know weather is something that is completely out of the race organizer’s control, but it still has an effect on your experience. Plus we also had two separate downpours during our road relay, so I feel it’s still somewhat fair to compare the two, taking into consideration the weather. However, I am more likely to give another Ragnar Trail a try before I would sign up for another road relay!
Which would you like better: road or trail?
Have you ever run a relay? What type was it?
For those who have done both: What did I miss!?