The 20 Intense Stages of Running a Ragnar Relay
200 miles, 12 people, two vans, 34 hours, and a whole lot of thoughts
From the outside, Reebok Ragnar Relay races might seem like they're for the insane. Named after the ninth century Scandanavian king and hero, these races are meant to test you physically and mentally; you stay up all night driving and running a combined 200-ish miles with 11 other sweaty, tired human beings. There are no showers. There are a lot of Port-A-Pottys. There are a lot of aches and pains and not enough hours of sleep. But if you give a Ragnar a chance, it could turn out to be your best (and craziest) fit-venture yet.
1. From the moment you sign up, you're like "WTF did I get myself into?".
Naturally, you scour the internet for all the information you can. (Luckily, we have some tips from a first-time finisher.)
2. You immediately regret taking the last few months off of running.
Since when is this so hard? I have to do three of these in 24 hours? Shit.
3. It's almost race day-and you really have no understanding of how this race will work.
Is it like a 200-mile long Chinese Fire Drill? Answer: Yeah, but it's as if your friends thought it would be funny to drive ahead a few miles and make you run to catch up with them.
4. And you also realize you have no idea what to pack.
How does one plan outfits around being sweaty and disgusting? Every piece of workout clothing I own should suffice, right? (You definitely need the right sneakers.)
5. When you finally make it to the starting line, you're beyond amped.
And then you realize you don't have to run for hours because all of Van 1 has to run before Van 2 does anything.
6. Van 2 Pro Tip: carbo-load with brunch while you're waiting.
When the waitress says "Congrats!" just pretend you've already run. It's way too hard to explain to non-Ragnarian folk.
7. During your first of three runs, you're excited and crushing it, but realizing you still have two more to go makes you want to turn around and run home.
Except running past some cool stuff like a beach, a mountain, or Plymouth Rock will remind you why you're there. (Try these around-the-world races for miles of incredible scenery.)
8. Post-run, you experience your first van shower.
Baby wipes and face wipes are magical things sent from the gods and also you will never want to see them again after this weekend.
9. You get some more time off while Van 1 runs again, so you get to sleep (yay!). But.... only for an hour or so.
At some ungodly hour your alarm will go off to go run again. Your body will be like WTF and you will really really wonder why you voluntarily chose to do this.
10. You get decked out for your night run, in full minion status: headlamp, tail light, reflective vest, and all. Once you start, you realize you have ~*crAzY*~ adrenaline and that night runs are the best thing ever.
Blast your music and you're basically a one-woman club on the run. Forget going out on Friday nights, this will be your new favorite midnight pasttime.
11. But it's dark and you're kind of uncoordinated from the lack of sleep.
Translation: You can jam to your music, but if you attempt to dance or GOD FORBID Snapchat, you will trip. And die. (Watch the full vid of T-Swift's adorable treadmill fail.)
12. At some point (most likely in the early-morning hours) you will enter what Ragnarians call The Abyss: your absolute lowest point, physically and mentally. Cue all the not-so-great feels.
Maybe you're hurt, maybe your muscles are sore, or maybe the infamous Ragnar leg (the hardest of any on that course) kicked your ass. Maybe you want to kill everyone in your van, or your stomach is not happy with the random midnight snack you grabbed from the gas station.
13. But you make it back to the light, and start to get the hang of being a Ragnarian.
That means trying to make the most of any actual bathrooms along the way, bringing your own toilet paper into the Pot-A-Pottys, foam rolling anywhere and everywhere, mastering the technique of the rear-seat van change, and chugging electrolytes and water and eating peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars like it's your job.
14. Being in a van with five other people for 30 hours straight gets you really close, really fast.
You all know each other's pooping schedule and have probably seen everyone nearly naked at one point or another.
15. During your second sleep break you're basically a zombie. But those two hours on a cold gym floor feel like gold.
Crashing in a high school gym feels oddly scary. Also, sleeping on a wood floor makes you realize that your body feels old AF.
16. Waking up from your second sleep for your third run...YOUR BODY IS NOT READY.
17. But soon you finish your third and final run, and realize that IT'S OVER!!! You meet your final runner with the rest of your team to cross the finish line together and it is the ultimate #squadgoalz moment.
P.S. There are tons of reasons you should run with friends on the reg.
18. Then you realize this means you don't get to hang in a moving vehicle with your #VanFam anymore.
Separating to shower (FINALLY) feels like separation anxiety. Also, what do you mean we have to stop running?
19. But you get to enjoy an epic post-race meal because you're #worthit and you deserve it after the last 30 hours.
Followed by a near coma-level nap.
20. And then you realize that even though your body kind of hates you and your brain feels like mush, you're hooked on this crazy mix of running, team-building, and modern-day survival that is a Ragnar Relay.
The good news is, they're all over the country. Next stop: Hawaii? #VanFam, assemble!