Ragnar Trail Relay – Unique to Everyone



For the past three years, I have gotten the opportunity to run the Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass, CO. All three years have been with 3W Races. The first year as an ambassador, the second year and both an ambassador and employee, and this year as an employee. 

I am a BIG fan of Ragnar Relays. I have loved and enjoyed every year in different ways. This race is a great event, well put together and good way to combine all the reasons I enjoy running! 

Below is my take on the relay, in a general sense. I plan on following up with this year’s post race recap.



What is Ragnar Trail Relay?

It all ends when I finally get home, I examine myself, taking note of what I’ve done to my body and mind.

I am very tried, about to fall asleep.

I’m dirty, literally covered, head to toe with dirt.

I smell like a high school locker room.

My muscles are sore.

I have a few blisters spread out on my feet.

There’s chafing in places only my boyfriend sees.

I’m sunburnt in various spots, showing where I can’t reach.

My hair is coated in grease, staying in a pony-tail without a hair-tie.

My eyes are dry, my head hurts, and my ears are plugged.

But I feel accomplished.

It all started at 4am the morning before. In about 28 hours, I ran close to 15 miles between three separate runs. I climbed a total of 2,295 feet up a mountain, only to come back down, three different times. I slept less than 8 hours in total and tried to remember to eat when I needed to.

If you read the fine print, I tortured myself for almost two days straight and I called it FUN.


I have made new friends and strengthened current ones. I watched the sun set then come back up again, all while sitting besides a giant bonfire. I ran 3.5 miles catching up with a friend of mine, four miles with just the light of my headlamp and the stars above, and 6.8 miles in the heat of the day, all while being distracted by tall, snow-capped peaks.

That is what my Ragnar Trail Relay was.


Running is different to everyone. Some enjoy the roads and others like the trails. Some get thrills from the long run and others just run a few miles each time. Some appreciate company on the journey while others prefer to chase the miles alone. Most of us are a mix of all of these. No matter what type of runner you are, you can find your place at a Ragnar Relay.

My experience with Ragnar Relay has been three years in the making. Every time I join a team and start hitting the trails with seven other team members, I have a new experience. That’s what makes this race series unique. It may be the same three trails every year, but each year you can create new memories and experiences.


The first year, I was chased by a sage grouse that I coined “The Velociraptor.” In year two, I desperately searched for some dry clothes to warm up in between runs. This year, my third year, I chased the sun and got to finally see the views from the red loop. I was also the last runner and was joined by my team to run through the arch at the end of my last leg. Each year has been made more and more memories.

The brilliant thing about Ragnar Trail Relay is they provide you with the essentials: Trails, music, good vibes, nutritious food, games, good products, a great host, and a campground. From that, each individual experience is unique; from person to person, team to team and year to year.

So I ask you….

What will your Ragnar Trail Relay be?


Quote on the back of the medals when you put all eight together:

“We believe that being a Ragnarian is about more than being a runner, that misery loves company, that happiness is “only real when it’s shared”, that there is a badass inside all of us, that everyone deserves to be cheered at the finish line, that dirt in your teeth boosts the immune system, that what happens in the village, stays in the village, that adventure can only be found if you are looking for it, and that a little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay to watch the sun rise with our friends. Together we ran Ragnar trail. Together we can accomplish anything. We are Ragnarians.”


Ragnar Relays

3W Races

Ragnar Trail Relay, Snowmass – Post Rece Recap – PART II

Continued from HERE.

Before I get into the next loop, the Yellow loop, there’s a background story I need to tell. Throughout the weekend, I kept hearing chatter about a bird on the yellow loop. None of my team members ever encountered it but all I knew from people was there was a bird guarding a nest right on the trail.

One story I heard left a girl scrambling through the bushes, around the bird, and another guy said he jumped right over it.

I had no idea was to expect, but it was becoming a key topic point among all the teams.

Another story about me: I don’t like birds. Not really. I used to volunteer at an animal sanctuary back in the day and was chased by a huge turkey until I had to quickly retreat into a barn and close the door before it could get me. Birds are freaky. They make sudden darting moves.

Anyway, where was I…..

20140607_054204The Yellow Loop, ~6am:

The sun had just risen, but it was still a little chilly, so I went with shorts and a long sleeved shirt. I was feeling pretty tired still and not 100%. Not going to lie, if I was just at home, feeling the way I did, I wouldn’t have run. But, I was there for my team! I was the first one to start all of our 3rd loops. I had 4 miles ahead of me and then I was done.

I left my sweats on until the last possible minute, but It might have been a minute too late. I was just struggling to get my sweats over my shoes while the girl handing off to me help tug them down! It was probably quite the spectacle.

I took off out of the exchange zone and almost went the wrong way! It was a good thing this race was almost over because clearly my mind was running on fumes! When you get out of the exchange zone, the Red and Green Loops go to the left and the Yellow loop to the right. Being in a habit already, I took off left but only made a few feet before I realized I wasn’t seeing the yellow signs on the ground!

The yellow loop starts you off in a quiet neighborhood with cookie cutter houses and well manicured lawns. I bet those residents weren’t prepared for a bunch of crazy runners to come running through their back yards day and night (not literally, of course). However, you’re only on the street for maybe a quarter-mile when you finally find the dirt.


Out of all the loops, I would say this had the steepest terrain. I thought it was just because my legs were tired from the whole weekend, but other people confirmed my suspicions and said they struggled with this loop the most as well. The first mile or two was pretty steep with lots of switch backs. I was struggling and had to walk a few times.


But finally, the trail evened out with nice and easy rolling ascents and descents. I caught some pretty fantastics views with the newly risen sun. This area is beautiful, Even though I’m a native, I had never been to this part of the state.


Then it happened. I was just trudging along enjoying the trail and as I rounded the corner, IT came at me. Right for me! As soon as it saw me, it made a bee line for me, determined to take me out! I’m pretty sure I let out a little scream. What is it you ask?!

A scary….



Just Kidding, it was the sage grouse. I just told everyone at first it was a velociraptor so that I didn’t look like a pansy.

Not my photo…are you kidding…no way was I sticking around longer to take a photo! I found this from someone, no idea who, posting it to the Ragnar Facebook page.

Not my photo…are you kidding…no way was I sticking around longer to take a photo! I found this from someone, no idea who, posting it to the Ragnar Facebook page.

And it was literally only the size of a chicken. But it was definitely on a mission to kill me and I didn’t want to mess with that bird! She gunned it for me! Making me run back wards down the trail and she wasn’t stopping! Finally, I kicked some dirt at her (no, I didn’t kick her, I swear). She stopped charging at least but I wasn’t about to go forward again. Instead, I jumped in the bushes to the side of the trail and made a huge arch around where I thought her nest might be. I’m glad I decided to wear knee-high socks for this loop!


Once that terrifying moment was over, I continued along the trail. It wasn’t much further from that point until I reached the downhill. Excited to the decline, I started on my way down. The yellow loop and the red loop shared the same last two downhill miles. So I got some redemption on this trail from having to run it at night.


Well, sort of. I was going at a nice even pace but was then attacked by another monster: the dreaded Side Stitch. I haven’t had a side stitch in ages. AGES I tell ya! And this one was bad, like so sharp it brought tears to my eyes. Usually I can run through them and focus on my breathing, but this time it wasn’t helping. I pulled off to the side of the trail, bent over in pain. Another runner passed me and asked if I was ok.


It took awhile for the stitch to go away, but I had to keep running. So I started off slow again, with the pain still faintly in my side and tried to take deep, even breathes. It eventually went away, but I feel a little cheated that I didn’t get to enjoy that trail again. When I knew I only had less than a mile left, I raced “home.”

Finishing up the last loop!

Finishing up the last loop! Look at that horrible posture – a sign I was exhausted.

Exhausted, hungry and in pain, I handed off the bib to the next guy as he asked me how my run was. The first thing I could stammer out was, “That stupid bird attacked me!” and everyone in the exchange zone was laughing.

And when I say I was tired, I don’t think I’ve ever been that tired before. As I come out the exchange zone, I was greeted by our team captain who gave me a huge hug and said, “nice job, now let me make you breakfast.” It was the perfect, most comforting, motherly-like things to hear that that time. I melted! And breakfast was good: eggs and hash browns!

Seeing off our last runner!

Seeing off our last runner!

The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. Since I was the first runner out of our team, I had a lot of time to kill. After breakfast, I went over to the rec center that was close by to sit in the hot tub and then shower to clean up. I was in desperate need of a shower. I basically paid $10 for a shower – but it was well worth it!


We were one of the last teams to finish, so we watched as others packed up and left. While our teammates were running, we cleaned up camp and loaded the cars. Then finally our last runner, Team Captain, came around the corner! We all joined her to the finish line and cheered as we crossed!




Overall 5/5!:

Fantastic experience! We’ll organized! Fun event! I mean, you just read all about it…if that’s not a 5/5 event, then I don’t know how to please you! But seriously, The only complaint I can think of is not about the event itself but the campers….Come on people! Do you have to let the port-o-potty doors slam shut at 3 AM!? Every 5 secs, SLAM! You would just be getting asleep and then…SLAM!

But besides the constant noise, I think I had the best schedule of running. I was the first runner, so I went at 3pm, 11pm, and about 6am…pretty close to my normal sleep schedule anyway. I lucked out.


Race Organization – 5/5:

No complaint there. Everything was well marked and laid out. The announcer did a great job (did he even get to sleep??). They even had a TV screen that would show you when your teammate was about a quarter-mile from the exchanged zone! It was super convenience, when it worked. But I heard someone say this was the first race they tried it at….. I’m not sure how true that is.


Cost – ??:

I don’t know how much it cost. 3W Races paid for all over out expenses. I brought a lot of my own food and pitched a few bucks for gas and that’s about it. But with your team’s entry, you all get shirts, one free meal, yoga if you would like, s’mores, free hot beverages, plus when you consider how much organization goes into this event, I think the price is well worth it.

Post Run – 1/5:

There wasn’t a big post-race party like most big events, but that is kind of common for relay events since everyone is finishing at different times. I’m not even sure if they had a “beer garden.” Oh well. I had a “victory beer” while I waited for the rest of the team to finish. By the time our whole team finished, we literally loaded the car and got back on the road to Denver. I don’t mind though. At this relay in particular, you’re pretty much just having fun and partying with your team the whole time.

A Colorado Beer for a Colorado Race.

A Colorado Beer for a Colorado Race.

And that’s about all I got for you! It was long post, but it was also a long event. I will be doing Road Ragnar here in August as well. Compared to my last relay, I like this Trail version better. It’s more relaxing and controlled versus getting right in a van after you run.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever done a relay race, or the Ragnar Trail in particular?



Ragnar Trail Relay, Snowmass – Post Race Recap! FINALLY!

ragnar logoBear with me, this is going to be a long post, but I’ve included a ton of pictures to keep you entertained and to distract you from my mediocre writing.

I know this was a few weeks ago now – try over a month, but lets face it…I’ve been pretty spacey lately.

In the running community, Ragnar is a household name. 99% of runners know what you’re talking about when you say Ragnar. In the last year, they started a Trail Relay Series in addition to their road relays.

Before the Ragnar Trail, I had only ever run one relay race. Well, I guess the Colfax Marathon Relay WAS a relay, but not in the same sense. I’m talking the “load a ton of people and their stuff in a couple of vans and run all day and night” type of relay. Two years ago I did the Wild West Relay from Fort Collins, CO to Steamboat Springs, CO with a group of people I had just met. It was a blast!

Ambassador_Badge-1I had heard the Ragnar company was a great experience and wanted to try one. I finally got my chance and they definitely lived up to the expectations I had from hearing everyone’s positive reviews.

3W Races wanted to sponsor a team to run the road and trail Ragnars here in Colorado and I put my name in the lotto for both, with the Ragnar Trail being my first pick. I guess not that many of us ambassadors wanted to do them, so I got selected for both! The Road is coming up here in august, and a lot of the same people I did the Trail with are returning. (And if you’re in the CO area, follow 3W Races on Facebook because we have four spots to fill! A lot of times we raffle them off on Facebook or if you’re special, I can just ask the race directors, and they’ll probably just say yes! Contact me for more info).

For those of you who have done a regular road relay, the Ragnar Trail was a total different feel. First off, you’re allow to drink. Bonus! (You’re not supposed to in the Road, because you’re driving obviously). Second, it’s like camping with a bunch of running in between.

I lov10404528_501132800013121_2522809255255881078_ne camping, I love running. I love hanging out with good people…..Ragnar Trail was awesome!

We had a total of eight people on the team plus one volunteer. It is mandatory per Ragnar that you provide a volunteer. That person only has one short shift and otherwise are free to do whatever they want. Our lovely volunteer, the wife of one of our team members had to do her shift from 7 to 10, or something like that, and she actually ran the most out of all of us because she ran with the longest loops with two different people did the shortest loop as well.

We started off Friday morning by meeting at a Park and Ride just outside of Denver. We consolidated all of our stuff to fit into two cars, which was harder than you’d think. If you thought you had to bring a lot of stuff for a Road Relay, double that because you have to bring everything you would need for camping as well!

The Colorado Trail Ragnar took place in Snowmass, CO which is about a four-hour drive from Denver. I actually fell asleep in the car (surprise, surprise to everyone who knows me in real life – I’m notorious for falling asleep in car rides over two hours) but I did also coach a boot camp right before meeting up with everyone.


First glimpse at the campsite

We made it to site around noon, and began to stake out our camp spot. The campground was already littered with teams! I had never seen so many tents in one area! We chose our zone, close to the port-o-potties, but not too close. Little by little, we lugged all our gear over and began to pitch our tents.

Home sweet home for the weekend

Home sweet home for the weekend

I was the first runner. Our start time was set for 3pm. After my tent was up, I ate, foamed rolled and watched clouds come and go. At one point it was raining and windy and five minutes later I was sweating just sitting there. As my time to run drew near, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to run in. Finally the sun came out again, and it looked like it would stay that way.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

I got antsy waiting for my time to start so I went down to the “village” to hangout. The whole team eventually met me before it was time to start and cheered me on as I ran on by!

The group waiting to see me off for the start of our race!

The group waiting to see me off for the start of our race!

I actually ran into a fellow blogger, Amy at Run, Write, Hike. Her team, Supersaurus, was set to start at 2:30 but due to lighting, ended up with our starting wave. Ironically, this is the first time we have met and we both live in the same neighborhood in Denver. As the race director was checking in all the teams and announcing over the PA system who was running, I saw her team name on her bib and introduced myself.

THIS IS NOT MY PHOTO. This was taken by one of RUN/WRITE/HIKE's friends. But I'm in it! And Amy is the one with her hands in the air!

THIS IS NOT MY PHOTO. This was taken by one of RUN/WRITE/HIKE’s friends. But I’m in it! And Amy is the one with her hands in the air!

Full of energy, I tore up the course. I was excited to get on those trails! I had previously had a rough week (read THIS post to find out why) and was really looking forward to that weekend.

The start of the Green Loop

The start of the Green Loop

There were three loops total for the Snowmass Ragnar. A 3.3 miler, a 4.1 miler, and a 6.2 mile loop. They are run in that order, Green, Yellow, Red as a team. But, because you have 8 people on your team, everyone runs their own loops in a different order. Mine started with the green 3.3, the red 6.2 and then the yellow 4.1 last.

20140606_182245The Green Loop, 3pm:

Without heavily studying the course profiles (I never do – it psyches me out), I vaguely knew that half of the course would be up and half of it would be down. I was doing a lot of trail training before the Ragnar and felt confident that this would be a challenging, but not too hard, weekend of running.

The green loop starts out on the sidewalk that borders the campsite and the takes you to a road and up into the trails. This particular trail rose up above a local golf course and I could hear some of the golfers cheering us on. The view was incredible as it looked out into the valley. I had a ton of energy, like I said, so I charged up the incline.


The view from the green loop

I kept a nice steady pace for most of it until the few switch backs after about a 1.25 miles. Once you reached the highest point, the decline was the perfect angle to fly down the mountain! And boy did I fly! I had a blast cruising down the trail. The green loop finished nearing the parking lot as it zigged and zagged to the exchange zone.

I passed off the bib (that was our “baton”) to the next runner and was greeted by my team! They said I ran faster that projected! If only I could have been “faster than projected” on ALL the loops!

One of my favorite pictures from the whole weekend. Great camera skills from our team captain…my teammate waiting to get the baton from me as you see me running into the exchange zone.

One of my favorite pictures from the whole weekend. Great camera skills from our team captain…This is my teammate waiting to get the baton from me as you see me running into the exchange zone.

As our runners went out and came back, I relaxed at the campground and chatted with my fellow teammates. With registration you get a free dinner meal ticket and most of us went down together. Don’t get too excited, dinner wasn’t that great but it did refuel me. We ate around 7, leaving me with 3ish hours to digest my huge meal before my next run.

Hanging out around the camp site…found this lovely sign

Hanging out around the camp site…found this lovely sign

I was slated to begin the 6.2 mile loop around 10 or 11 pm. I honestly can’t remember. The sun was well over the horizon by then. As per previously mentioned, beer and other alcohol IS permitted. While hanging around, one of my team members and I decided to take advantage of this privilege. I only had three, but at that elevation and my already low tolerance, I may or may not have begun my next loop a little bit tipsy. No shame. I needed the warmth, right?

red loopThe Red Loop, ~11pm:

This was the loop I was most nervous for. Not because of the mileage. I was actually most nervous for running at night. When I did that other relay, one of my relay legs was at night as well (as with all relays) and even though it was on a safe, straight road, It was still kinda freaky. With a headlamp on, I got pretty nauseous from the bobbing up and down. Couple that with being on an unfamiliar trail, I needed those beers to not just warm me up, but to also calm my nerves.

The first two-ish miles of the red loop is uphill on a side-walk and then residential roads before you get on the trail. From the village, I could see other runners’ headlamps climbing the mountain side. This loop was a little off balance, with 4 miles being up and 2 being down. Being at night, the run seems longer because you have no idea how much farther you have. But, the course was well marked, and as your staggered on, you looked for reflective course makers in the distance.


Those first two miles weren’t bad, and once you were out of the valley, you could feel the air warm as your climbed up and up. The houses that surrounded the street was incredible and I could see in the lit windows of those million dollar homes, wishing I lived there.

I finally found the dirt trail that went up onto the ridge. During the day, I imagine that you could see the Ragnar Village from the rim. All I could see was the dirt and the brush that was illuminated by my headlamp. Not going to lie, it was definitely a lot more freaky running at night in nature versus a road. But whatever was going on this time, I DID NOT get nauseous and was thankful for that.

My "view" on the red loop

My “view” on the red loop

I struggled a lot with this run. The elevation change was hard, the mental part was hard and I just wanted to get to the top. Because I couldn’t see that far in front of me, there was a few times I thought I had reached the summit but was tricked. At one point, I swear I heard some kind of animal growl in the dark, but that gave me a little bit of an adrenaline boost to keep going.

Out of nowhere, I heard a voice. And no, it wasn’t in my head. There was a guy at the top, camping out, to inform me that I was indeed, FINALLY, at the top. I breathed a sigh of relief, and thanked him. Yes, it was all downhill from there. Well, at least the trail was. It didn’t make my run any easier.

What the actual view of the red loop looks like.

What the actual view of the red loop looks like. Photo credit: Team Captain, Marley

While going up, I didn’t have much a problem with this, but going down, the headlamp beam mixed with the kicked up dust really messed with my depth perception and I was constantly feeling like I was stumbling, thinking the ground was closer that it was. The single track trail was also engraved with hardened bike tracks from pervious rains that left my ankles fighting for stability. Other than that, the decline was great, and I wish I was in the daylight to really race down the trail. As I lowered in elevation to the valley again, the temp began to drop simultaneously and it started getting chilly.


I was happy when I could see the village and the tiki torches lining the exchange chute. My hand off person was waiting for me in the coral and I deliriously handed over the bib, beer worn off, and marched right over to the bon fire and s’mores.


Then it was bed time. But I don’t think I got much rest. It wasn’t due to the lack of time, actually I get less than 7 hours on a regular basis, I was used to that. It was mostly due to the cold. I didn’t bring warm enough sleeping gear which is completely my misjudgment. I should know better – I’m a Colorado native. Camping in Colorado, even during the summer, brings some cold nights!

Around 4 or 5am, I woke with a start and could have sworn I heard someone say my name. I peaked out of my tent, thinking one of my teammates was trying to wake me to get me ready for my next leg. There was no one around. I laid back down for a few seconds and realized how cold I was and knew that I was never going to get back to sleep. I knew they’d have the bon fire in the village still going, so I changed into my next set of running clothes, sweats and jacket as quickly as I could inside my sleeping bag – I’m pretty sure that was the hardest challenge of the weekend. I had no idea who was currently running and set out for some coffee, knowing there was free warm beverages for the runners.

I found the caffeine and parked myself in the crowd by the fire. I still didn’t see anyone from my team for a while but finally found our team captain. Worried I had missed my turn, she assured me that there was still two people in front of me, one being on the course and her in line after that.


Not feeling that hungry, but knowing I should eat, I walked around to stay warm and ate some food to prepare. I watched the sun rise, and stripped of my sweats to run my last leg….

Ragnar pic to be continued