I am doing a Ragnar this weekend. I SWORE them off after the disaster that was Ragnar Napa (think the last 16 miles of 40 total on a Napa road in 92 degrees with no shade at 1 pm and let me know if you would be dying to sign up again). I have decided to come out of RagnarRetirement to run Ragnar Trail Vail Lake this weekend. I feel like since it's a Trail Ragnar it will be a totally different experience and not so painful as my last few Ultra Ragnars were.
So if you have been wrangled into doing a Ragnar by a well-meaning friend (or a friend who literally has it out for you and wants you to die a slow and painful death on a Napa road with no water...because... RAGNAR RULES- no aid station on that road), then please use this little survival guide to hopefully come out of it in one piece (or worst comes to best case scenario- extremely dehydrated and delirious).
** For those privileged to not know WHAT a Ragnar is.. here is the definition they provide on their site... slightly more glam than my description above:
1. Get a good group together- Nothing can bring down the group so much as someone who is uptight and grumpy. If they are like that on a regular day, do not even BRING them into this group situation. Ragnars are all about deprivation in every sense and can potentially bring the worst out of people. I've been SO lucky to always have great groups who were so supportive, funny and go-with-da-flow types. When you are beyond exhausted in the middle of the night and your teammates are making you laugh and keeping you alive, you know you'll make it.
2. Cheer your teammates on- My favorite part of Ragnar was cheering our friends on... don't leave them hanging and without fans- get out of the van and let them know you're supporting them. Also- it means the most on the third leg... when you're almost out of energy.
3. Wet Wipes- These are a must. Think 3 runs (sometimes totalling up to 40 miles) and two days basically without a shower. If you don't feel like doing this, your teammates may feel like giving you a forced wet wipe bath. My cuzin Erin bought Shower Pills and so GENEROUSLY offered and kept suggesting I use these during Ragnar SoCal. Use them, everyone will love you more. Or at least let you back in the van.
4. EAT!!!- This should go without saying- but be proactive about eating- even if you don't feel like it. Cause whether you feel like it or not- you'll be kicked out of the van and forced to run- with no teammates volunteering to take your spot if you're tired or out of energy. I would recommend bringing salty things- towards the end of the relay you are so tired of all the sweet/energy bars you brought and things like beef jerky were the most coveted- that and pretzels.
5. Make sure your headlamp has batteries in it- Do you know what it's like to be on a road in the middle of the night with a headlamp that stops working with zero lights on the road?! It is the setting of a horror movie.. for sure. On one of the occasions that this happened, a poor fool happened to also be running ahead of me. Guess who silently crept up right next to him and heavily breathed and ran up the hill moving at exactly his pace.. for miles- without acknowledging that this strange stalker behavior was actually happening. Instead of hoping that you can tag along with someone else's light- make sure yours works.
6. Don't forget your teammates while they are out running- Seems logical right? Like you drop a runner off in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere- your first priority should be picking them up... or would it actually be taking a nap in the van?! Can't tell you how many times it happened that we missed picking someone up, went to the wrong spot, sat down and ate for too long, fell into a deep coma-like sleep... etc- and we left a poor runner out there to wonder what happened to their team. Cell phones help in tracking people.. but in the event that the entire team is dead asleep- then the runner may need to go out to the parking lot and find their team. Oops.
7. Pack well- You definitely need three outfits for each run, sweats, compression socks, and INDIVIDUAL ziploc bags for putting your clothes in after each one. This is the secret to not making your van smell like an entire herd of cattle died in your van- locking in that smell with the patented ziploc lock. Also, we straight up brought air freshener and were spraying the air (and individuals, if necessary) in an attempt to keep the situation from getting ugly.
8. Be willing to bend the rules.. IF NECESSARY- Ragnar has rules about when you can give your runner aid during their run and have certain portions where it was prohibited from stopping and helping out your runner (i.e. giving them water or food). I lucked out and had this section in my last run for Ragnar Napa. It became very ugly as I got extremely dehydrated running at 1 pm in 92 degrees with no shade. I ran out of water pretty quickly and had to stop random cars on the road and beg them for water (seriously). I ended up walk jogging the last few miles (which I would rather die than do that) and was in a pretty bad state after this. In hindsight, no relay race is worth getting yourself dehydrated and sick. Help your teammates if they need it.
9. Be a running Mother Theresa- Things happen- runners get sick, or lost and things will change up. Be ready to pick up another run to help your teammate out. We may or may not have had a situation where our team was waiting at the exchange for our runner to come in. Someone knocked on the van door and had a shirt that came from our runner. The issue? Our runner had bloody nipples and had someone carry the shirt on to us and relay that crucial message. Once we found out that happened- we went to find him and had someone finish his run so that his nipples could heal.
So we start this trail Ragnar this Friday afternoon at 1:30 pm out at Vail Lake and I will be running with the Nuun-sponsored team (i.e. DON'T WORRY GUYS- not getting dehydrated this time). I'm really pumped for a few things-
1. no van= sleeping on the ground and not curled up in fetal position in a moving vehicle
2. trails= no worrying about having to follow directions and getting lost (oh but I'm sure if you can get lost, I will find a way).
3. gorgeous scenery= the one thing I'm most ready for
I'll keep y'all posted...