Ragnar Trail Snowmass Bound – Again!

If you’re reading this on Friday, the day I scheduled it to post, I’ll be up in Snowmass, Colorado! Depending on the time of day, I may still be in the tent, catching some sleep, getting ready for my first loop, or recovering from the 6+ mile red loop!

Follow me on Instagram for real-time updates and posts! 

This is my 5th time running the Snowmass Trail Ragnar. I’ve run it every year they’ve brought the trail race to Colorado. It’s a blast and a new adventure every time with a new team and new memories.

Read about some of my past Ragnar adventures:

My favorite blog post ever and it’s about Ragnar (2016)

Trail Ragnar 2014 Part 1

Trail Ragnar 2014 Part 2

Road Ragnar 2014 Part 1

Road Ragnar 2014 Part 2

Beer Relay Last Week to Prepare for RAGNAR SNOWMASS!

I am still working on a post from last weekend’s Beer Relay race in Lyons, CO. By far one of my favorite running related things I have done! It was the first of it’s kind and SO FUN! Highly recommend!


I called it practice for Ragnar Trail Snowmass! It’s been an busy, but short week working but the owners of 3W Races took us on a spa day today. Breakfast, massage and pool side hanging out! It was a perfect pre-ragnar relaxation! (BEST JOB EVER!)

But it’s up early tomorrow to coach a session of bootcamp and head to the mountains of Colorado! I guess I better be getting to bed!



Ragnar Relay Colorado – Post Race Recap – Part II

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(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!”

Wait. WHAT??

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.

SEE!!!! All uphill!!!!!

SEE!!!! All uphill!!!!!

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.

Obviously a horrible picture of my self… but this is pretty much what my vision was like as I was running that morning.

Obviously a horrible picture of my self… but this is pretty much what my vision was like as I was running that morning.

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.

This is a pretty accurate picture of what my vision saw for the first half of the run. Blurry and all.

This is a pretty accurate picture of what my vision was for the first half of the run. Blurry and all.

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.

Watching the sun rise of the mountains

Watching the sun rise of the mountains

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.

At the top of the hill I thought I still had to climb, but luckily it was our next runner that had to climb this.

At the top of the hill I thought I still had to climb, but luckily it was our next runner that had to climb this.

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.

DONE! The first of our team to fill in all of their boxes!

DONE! The first of our team to fill in all of their boxes!


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.

Lisa handing off to Chuy, our last runner of van 1!

Lisa handing off to Chuy, our last runner of van 1!

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.

yes, that was my contribution to the van art!

yes, that was my contribution to the van art!

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!

Waitin' for our last runners!

Waitin’ for our last runners!

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!

All of us running to the finish line with our last runner!

All of us running to the finish line with our last runner!



Yes, that's me!

Yes, that’s me!

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!

Three out of the four of us 3W people that earned our double medal!

Three out of the four of us 3W people who earned our double medal!


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!

Breckin' our Aspens off coming in for their finish!

Breckin’ our Aspens off coming in for their finish!



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!

Our Van!

Our Van!


Some favorites of other teams!

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).

All the "tags" we accumulated!

All the “tags” we accumulated!

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!




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?