The weeks leading up to Ragnar Relay Alafia River Trail were a little uneasy for me. I had injured my achilles and wasn’t able to train the way I normally would- in fact, I didn’t run at all for five weeks. I have a solid running base so I wasn’t TOO worried, but 32 miles (the distance each runner on our ultra team would cover) is a lot of running, even when you are well trained.
The day before the race our teams carpooled to the state park. We had two ultra teams and a regular team all camping together so we had tents, food, chairs, sleeping bags, coolers, etc. for 16 runners to get set for the weekend. The night came quick and we tried to get some sleep but the cold, rain and chatting of the anxious runners all around kept us up most of the night.
Our start time was 8:30 am and we would then spend the next 29 hours running in turns. The campground served as the main “hub” where you could rest, eat/drink, change clothes, etc. while you waited for your next leg. Each person rotated running between three trail loops: green (5.40 mile “easy” loop), yellow ( 4.50 mile “intermediate” loop) and red ( 5.90 mile “hard” loop). Each loop was unique and challenging in it’s own way. The race was a blast. We had the best time out there running and encouraging each other. Ragnar events are team oriented and all about working together. Almost everyone out there is willing to help out others in any way. There is such a spirit of camaraderie among the crowd and it really does energize you.
There happened to be a cold front that weekend so it was about 40 degrees when the sun went down, which made for a long, cold night. When your turn to run came around you would warm up a little bit but in between legs all you could do was bundle up by the fire and wait. I spent most of the time huddled up in my sleeping bag, trying to stop the shivering.
Ragnar does a great job of making it a fun experience. There is music playing, vendors to shop and a bon-fire going all night long with all the fixings for s’mores. They had food trucks there almost all day and night, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s like a summer camp for adults.
By the end, we were cold and tired, bruised and dirty; but we were also ecstatic and grateful. We had accomplished what we had come to do- we finished all of our miles! But not only that, we had an amazing time doing it. We formed bonds and helped each other push through things that would normally hold us back. I, personally, was able to run all of my miles without too much pain and that alone was a huge success for me.
Thank you, Ragnar Alafia River Trail, for an amazing weekend. Team Victorious Secret will see you again.