Ragnar Trail Relay Richmond – Leg 1 Race Report

This is going to be part one of three of my Ragnar Relay Richmond recaps. Right after the event I had this wild idea I could just do one post to recap all three runs. But that proved impossible. Instead, as I’ve done in the past, I’m going to do a separate race recap for each leg. Here is my recap of leg 1 as part of the Weekly Wrap link up, hosted by Tricia and Holly!


A little background: I ran Ragnar Richmond on an ultra team. That means we had a team of four instead of the standard team of eight. Each leg consisted of two loops at a time, for a total of about 34 miles per runner over a span of about 20 hours. The Moms Run This Town group I ran with fielded two ultra teams, so we were able to buddy up. Debbie was my buddy for the weekend!

You’ll see a discrepancy between the loop distances provided to us and what our Garmins actually measured. I know that GPS is often very inaccurate on trails. My sole point for sharing Ragnar’s distance and the distance by my watch is that it seemed clear to all of us that the loops were all long.

course map ragnar trail

Leg 1 – 6:30 PM Friday
Yellow Loop (6.2 miles), Red Loop (5.7 miles)
Total advertised distance: 11.9 miles
Total actual distance: 12.4 miles

After staying in the state park the night before with my husband, Barry, and our dogs, Barry drove me over to set up camp with my team on Friday morning. Our teams did not start running until 2 PM and as runners number 3, Deb and I did not have our first run until the evening. I had a great time hanging out in our camping area and getting to know the 23 other ladies there representing MRTT with our group. We definitely had a great group!

13082629_10156914912135370_7581626662009413047_n Ashley
PC: Ashley
13151679_10206590033772979_6557732704701591858_n Debbie
PC: Debbie

It was a long day waiting to run. Finally, 6:30 PM rolled around and it was time to go! I was so excited to finally get out there. Debbie and I headed down to the transition tent to wait. Runners 2 from our respective teams came in and handed off their bibs. The bibs act as the ‘relay baton’ and they get passed from one runner to the next with a belt. We also grabbed yellow slap bracelets, since that was the loop we were running first, and we were off!


The trails were really nice and despite rain earlier in the week, they were in great condition. Definitely not flat, as advertised by Ragnar, but nothing too major. Just continuous rolling hills with a few short, steep ones thrown in. Strangely, about halfway through this loop and very early on in our epic adventure, I had a moment where I didn’t want to be out there doing this. It was very strange and it was totally a mental thing. It didn’t last long, but it did scare me.

Ragnar 1

Early on, Debbie and I got to run by Barry and the dogs along with my Dad and Robin (who were also there for the weekend to camp and cheer us on), and Deb’s husband Bill. It was about a half mile walk from the campground, so not too hard for our fans to come out and cheer us on. ๐Ÿ™‚

leg 1 bill photo
PC: Bill

Although, Hank had a complete melt down when I ran by and kept going. Scout was mostly clueless, but she had a small freakout, too, feeding off of Hank.

PC: Dad

I enjoyed being out exploring the trails, and running with Deb, but to be honest this first loop felt a bit long. Granted, it was the longest of the three loops, but still. We ran by our crew again and had about a mile to go to finish up our first loop.

Snack break during the first loop while Deb got rocks out of her shoe. PC: Deb
Snack break during the first loop while Deb got rocks out of her shoe. PC: Deb

We arrived back into transition tent with our watches reading long already. Since we were running on an ultra team we still had another loop to do, so we turned in our yellow slap bracelets and picked up red ones and headed back out.


Just past transition there was a porta john and water area for ultra teams to refuel. Deb hit the porta john real quick while I ate some potatoes and salt (yes, I carried that with me after it worked wonders at my 50K). I also got my headlamp out since it was getting dusky and I knew we still had over an hour of running ahead of us. It was now that I started to grasp the magnitude of the challenge we were taking on.

Call me crazy, but this bridge reminded me of ‘No Hands’ bridge at mile 97 on the Western States course – you can see it in this video.

We headed out for the red loop – shorter than the yellow but the most challenging of the three. It took us longer due to the dark. There were also a few rooty and rocky sections that were particularly slow going. I did really enjoy how twisty and turny this loop was. It was neat in the darkness to see the headlamps of other runners going every which way in the woods.


Towards the end of the loop I started having some cramping issues. My quads were doing that wavy “threatening to cramp” thing and my calves were seizing up on me every time we hit an incline. I realized how much fatigue is still lingering from the North Face less than a month ago. I also started to get really worried about not being able to complete this event. I didn’t say anything out loud, but I was having a complete freak out. It also did not help that I had started to feel very nauseous for some reason during the final couple of miles.

We finished up our loop and I was relieved to hand my team’s bib over to runner 4. Deb and I headed out of transition tent and started to make our way back to our campsite. Before we could get there, though, some Ragnar folks approached us and asked me to turn on my headlamp and stare into their camera. Since they caught me off guard, I agreed, and that’s how I ended up in the Ragnar Richmond video. Our team’s campsite can also be seen at 0:22 in the video.

Deb and I finally made it back to our campsite and were happily surprised to find Barry and my dad and Bill all waiting for us. We had to hustle and grab some food with our food tickets before the food trucks left for the night. Then I decided to get changed into dry clothes before eating. While getting changed inside my tent, Barry was standing outside talking to me. It was just the two of us and I was able to voice how I was freaking out. It felt good to say it out loud. Barry reassured me that although I was clearly still fatigued from my 50K, this distance was not new for me. I could do it and I would do it and I would be fine. It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.


After that, I hung out in the camping area with everyone and tried to eat, but I was still feeling really nauseous and only managed a couple of bites of my pulled pork sandwich. It was about 11 PM at this point, and I decided to try and grab some sleep before our night leg (which was guesstimated to be around 3:30 AM). I felt so tired I was sure I would conk out and get some actual sleep for the first time at a Ragnar event. Unfortunately, that did not happen….

Can you eat a big meal right after working out?
When was the last time you went camping?
How do you handle a big challenge?

14 thoughts on “Ragnar Trail Relay Richmond – Leg 1 Race Report”

  1. I can’t imagine having run and then having to get up for another run at 3:30 am, and on no sleep. That’s cool you made it on the video!

  2. I would freak out in the woods at night. So NOT my thing as I have difficulty with depth perception. But I would still love to do Ragnar.
    I LOVE a big meal after a major workout. Those are the best meals ever !

  3. It’s so good to see the trails were not muddy! Poor Hank must have been really confused. I appreciate that you shared your true thoughts during this run. I think we all go through the freak-out moments for a variety of reasons, even when we are mostly having fun. I’m not sure I could do something like this without a buddy at my side. I’m sure Deb had a calming affect on you, and vice versa. Thanks for linking with us Meagan. I look forward to post #2!

  4. Wait….i need more…good cliff hanger!!!

    I loved Ragnar when I ran it last Fall in DC.

    I don’t do camping…no ma’am!

    I can’t eat a big meal after working out. Usually a protein shake and a fruit and then I will eat 2 hrs later.

  5. I haven’t camped since I was a GS!

    Well, you first leg *was* long. I think trail running is scary, but in darkness? I know I’d be freaking out too! So I can live vicariously through you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Oh my god!! That sounds amazing!! and so shortly after your 50 MIler!! wow!! very very cool ! Cant’ wait to read more.

  7. Wow! sounds very exciting! I’ve always wanted to do a Ragnar! Sorry to hear the runs were longer than they stated. Sounds like you did awesome and way to hang in there!

  8. I just got back from an RV trip from TX to CA and back. Most days, I can’t eat much after a long run so I try to have a drink ready. Good job on getting it done!

  9. I’ve never done Ragnar Trail, but was trying to find myself a team for Appalachia. Crazy to me how different this sounds from a regular Ragnar. I bet it would be tough to sleep when everyone is around you getting ready for their legs, VS taking a break when the other Van is running for road Ragnar.

    I am seriously so impressed that you ran the Ultra. That is lots of mileage! And on a tough course!

  10. You certainly fooled me – I had no idea you were freakin out on the inside. I’m glad Barry had that talk with you, and help calm your nerves.

    As always, I loved reading your recap; and it’s always so fun to read the recap of the race you just did, but from another perspective. Funny that we used so many of the same pictures. I’m just starting to write my Part 2 now, and plan to publish it tomorrow morning. Can’t wait to read your take on our second leg!

  11. Wow, I loved reading how supportive Dad and Barry were, it truly made a huge difference didn’t it. But what he said was right, you’ve done this before. Even before your 50k you have trained really well in all type conditions Meagan. It’s no wonder you were tired and fatigued at what you’ve done but you got through it!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I know it makes you proud to push your limits.
    Hanging onto the next part….

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