(You can catch Part I HERE.)
Leg 25 – 6.3 miles
It’s 5am and my phone starts ringing. Not the alarm, my actual ring tone, and I don’t have the number saved. Super sleepy and confused, I pick it up, knowing that it could be a team member.
“Hello,” I say in a very sleepy, raspy, quiet voice.
“Hey Whitney…. It’s Piar….” he says, gently. (A runner from Van 2)
“Oh, hey. What’s up,” still whispering, rubbing my eyes.
“Oh… we’re here and Monique (the current runner) will be here in about 5 minutes!”
My brain immediately kicks into action, “OH! OK! I was sleeping. I’ll get ready as fast as I can!”
One of my teammates was sleeping next to me and obviously wakes up to this. I tell him they’re here and he offers to gather all my stuff so that I can run to the van and get everything else I need! How nice!
I can’t imagine what I looked like to everyone else; to those few awake in the gym that is. It was probably hilarious watching me try to put on my shoes as I’m run/walking to the door. One of my shoes was only half on as I reached the doors and pretty much sprinted to the car.
Our team captain was sleeping in the van, doors locked, and I probably scared him half to death as I came pounding on the door.
“James! It’s locked! I need my shoes! They’re here!”
He pops up, opens the back door, all his stuff spilling to the ground, (what he was trying to avoid by locking the door) and I try to remember everything I need.
Running Shoes: check. Safety vest: check. Blinky light: check. Headlamp: check. Phone: got it. Granola bar shoved in my sports bra just in case: check. It’s a good thing I slept in most of my running clothes, all I needed was a long-sleeved pullover to keep warm.
Without even my shorts tied, I took off running, not really sure where to go, and had to ask a volunteer as I ran away where the actual exchange zone was.
You see, we had a spread sheet of projected times, and everyone read it wrong before we went to bed. We were reading the time I would be FINISHED in the morning, not when I should start running. All six of us read the sheet and all six of read it wrong.
I later found out this conversation: “How will we be able to tell if it’s Whitney since it dark?” Answer: “Oh, she’ll be the one running over here.”
I didn’t even need to be near for them to know it was me. I came tearing around the corner and I hear familiar voices calling my name, “WHITNEY! Over here!”
I held out my arm, Monique slapped the bracelet baton on, and I started running.
“WAIT! Where do I go?!” I had no idea where the trail was. A volunteer on the other side of the exchange zone yelled directions as I took off running.
Still not fully awake, my eyes were super blurry, but I just followed the trail. This was going to be a tough one. Let alone did I get a “rude awakening” but this 6.3 miles was ALL uphill. No exaggeration.
Before the sun rose, it was pretty chilly and I didn’t think to grab a pair of gloves. But I’m kinda glad that I had to just start running, only for the sake of the rest of me NOT being cold. From sleeping inside and immediately starting to run, I didn’t have a chance to adjust to the cooler morning temps. If I had been the 2nd runner or beyond, we would have been walking around in the cold waiting for the other runners and once I’m cold, I feel like I never warm up.
As the sun started to rise, I could see that I was running along a river, which probably would have been very pretty in the daylight. Then you get out the city and into what I would call a little more rural area. There were houses, but each had lots of space and yards and some had farms. I continued to trudge up the hills as my van passed by and cheered out the windows.
I passed four other runners on this run!!! (And only one other person passed me). I didn’t stop running. I couldn’t. If I did, I wouldn’t have been able to get going again.
One of the runners I had passed turned out to be a girl I went to high school with! Very ironic! I didn’t know it was her until after we were both done running and she approached me to say hi. I had said something to her on the trail like, “man these hills SUCK!” not knowing I knew her!
The hills just kept going and going. It would decrease in incline percentage for a bit, only to go back up. Finally, I saw a “left turn” sign and my last half mile or so was relatively flat…ish. I saw a bunch of people, vans and cones in the distance hoping it wasn’t a mirage from sleep left in my eyes.
There was also another hill in front of me. I was hoping that I didn’t have to climb it. Thankfully the next runner met me at exchange which was at the bottom of that hill. I handed off the slap bracelet and stumbled around.
I was DONE! Done, done, done, done and done.
After my run, I wasn’t feeling all that great. I was hungry but nauseous all at the same time. Clearly it was due to poor nutrition since I was on the run less than 10 minutes of waking up and didn’t get to fuel properly. I helped cheer on my fellow van-mates at the remaining exchange zones while I managed to suck down a Muscle Milk to get something in my stomach.
You could tell we were nearing the end of our journey. Watching other teams get in and out of their vans (including us) was almost comical. More and more people had limps or were just moving reeeeeaaaaalllllyyyyyy slow.
Finally our last runner had arrived at the last major exchange before the finish line. In all the Ragnar information we were promised pancakes (all you can eat!) and were very disappointed when we found out the pancake people never showed up.
Instead, we went to a local diner and of course I got pancakes! I was really looking forward to those delicious breakfast treats as you can tell from my window decoration!
Once we stuffed ourselves silly, or maybe the was just me, we drove the remaining way into Snowmass, found our condo that some of us would be staying in for the night and I promptly aimed for the hot tub! After soaking my bum knee, I finally cleaned up and hung out at the finish line/expo to wait for our last runner to finish!
When she finally arrived, we met her at the top of the hill. As she ran the switch backs, we ran down the middle! We gave her high fives and made a tunnel! It was such a blast!
We collected our medals and posed for pictures!
Some of us got TWO medals! Yep, that’s right! Those of us that also did Ragnar Trail – Snowmass earned the “Rocky Mountain Fever Medal.” There were four of us, I believe, from 3W that got them. I was told only 80 total people in the ENTIRE world earned this medal this year! And the medal itself is super awesome! It’s a double bottle opener, and it’s hunk of METAL, literally! It’s super heavy!
After high-fives and congratulations, half of our team left to head back to Denver. The rest of us were staying in Snowmass for the evening. Some went to the condo to take a nap. I hung around Ragnar village eating ice cream and drinking beer (Duh, what else would I do!?). I waited for the other team to finish. Soon after they came across the finish line as well!
There are only a few (tiny) things that take the 0.5 away from my overall rating. First off, I feel like Ragnar is such a big event that they could have a few more sponsors and booths at the Ragnar village. especially at the end. There was really only a few things there: Sierra Nevada beer, ice cream, Nuun, a leg massage tent and this Peace Tea company. There was also their Ragnar store, but that’s actual merchandise, so it doesn’t really count. That’s about all they had a the finish line.
The lack of FREE beer. They said there was supposed to be free beer at the finish line. Well, I take that back, there was free BEER, but you had to pay $1.00 for the CUP. Sure it’s not expensive by any means, but A) I wasn’t carrying my money with me and B) that’s just ridiculous! Free beer but you have to buy the cup??? Silly people.
Lastly, I feel like there wasn’t that many volunteers out there or there could have been at last more course markers. I personally didn’t get lost, but I heard of a few people who did get lost. There just wasn’t a lot of course markers. All my routes were pretty self-explanatory; I would have had to exit the main path to get lost, but I can imagine other routes being more confusing in the mountains. However, I guess when you sign up to do a relay, you’re basically agreeing to read all the instructions and course maps.
A non-Ragnar fault’s thing is the construction! Ragnar has no idea if/when a city is doing construction, but man was there a lot! My second leg was filled with construction! Two thirds of the 3 miles was under construction and I really had to watch my step for when the side walks would just end abruptly which proved to be difficult at night. Even driving in the vans, we passed a lot of construction. But then again, Colorado has two seasons: Winter and Construction Season.
Van art – This was a blast for me! During the Wild West Relay I did a few years ago, we didn’t decorate our van. And obviously with the Ragnar Trail, you don’t have a van to decorate! There was so many interesting vans! People are pretty creative. Besides our van, some of my favorites were the Scooby Doo Van, there was a van that lit up at night, a Toy Story Van, and a “Cannibus” van! All were pretty awesome!
Tagging the Other Vans – We didn’t do this with the Wild West Relay either! I learned this was a “thing” during this relay. Basically, you just “tag” other people’s vans….you write your name or some people had a magnet, others drew pictures… The only thing I can compare it to is like a dog marking its territory. We had a blast sneaking up on people! And I loved coming back to our van to see what people would do. I collected all the magnets and my favorite tag was by our other team! (Look in the picture for the Bart butt, it’s kinda hard to see but that’s my favorite).
Kills – I’m sure there’s some people out there that probably hate the idea of counting the people you pass, but I found it super motivational! There was only a few teams that I saw that DIDN’T tally their kills on their vans. We clearly did, and the thought of trying to catch someone made me keep running even though I had some aches and pains. I dreaded getting killed, and only got killed once! I thought it was pretty clever of one team to keep track of people “saved,” making fun of themselves and putting a good light on the fact that they were maybe slightly slower than the other teams. As long as one isn’t out-loud keeping track of kills as they pass, or at least plays it off in a joking way, I don’t see anything wrong with it!
Ragnar Village(s) – In the beginning of the race, Ragnar Village was pretty small with just a few booths set up. Since the same area was where the first major exchange zone was, it actually filled up later in the day as teams were passing through. It was very crowded and quite the party (minus the beer). I’m mostly concerned with the end, as described before. The booths/sponsors that they did have were relevent and great, but I feel like for such a big event, there could be more!
Other Teams – I didn’t meet a single team that wasn’t nice. The only weird people (or that I thought were weird) was a team that we had tagged that immediately wiped it off when they found it. They did have their own writing on the van, so we figured it would be ok, but clearly not. They didn’t want to be tagged. My favorite other team was the High Flying Vikings, but only because one of the members was my running “buddy” during the first leg. I kept seeing him at a lot of the exchange zones. I made jokes that the other members of his team better start running slower so that we could run together again. I believe his team did end up finishing ahead of us, but not by much!
Swag – Besides the freaking awesome double medal we few got for doing both the Colorado Trail Ragnar and this one, we also received a t-shirt, stickers and a patch. Worth the price? (Even though we didn’t pay for our registration, I still know on average that a relay is about 100 plus per person) To answer that: Eh… I get where the money goes. I mean, a relay covers A LOT of time and space, but we didn’t really get much included. But hey, I didn’t pay for it, so I’m not going to complain! I think the price is DEFINITELY worth the whole EXPERIENCE!
After it was all said and done, the remaining team members from both teams dined together at the Base Camp Restaurant. We all chatted and told stories of the race and then all went back to the condo to do the same. On the way back to Denver the next day, we traveled over Independence Pass and stopped to enjoy the view! All in all, a great weekend. I couldn’t ask for better: Running, Traveling, Friends, Beer, Colorado, Pretty Views… That’s the life!