Before this year, my father-in-law had run in the Hood to Coast Relay 19 times. His birthday is in late August, which is right around the time Hood to Coast takes place. So this year he put together a family team for his 70th birthday and 20th Hood to Coast. I got to run Leg 5 and I had a great time!
Hood to Coast is a 199 mile relay that begins at the base of Mt Hood and ends in Seaside, OR. It starts with some steep downhill on a highway in the forest, continues through some smaller towns amidst farmland, then into Portland, along the Columbia River, through windy forest roads, and finally onto the finish line at the beach.
Hood to Coast is truly the “mother of all relays”. It boasts 1200 teams, and triple that many team applications. It has some elite teams sponsored by Nike and others that finish at just over 5:00/mile pace. Hood to Coast is the relay that inspired the creators of the Ragnar relays.
Our kids had already started school before the race, so we waited until Thursday after school to head from Idaho to the Portland area to meet up with family. The drive went pretty well and we pulled into town around 11pm, so we basically went right to bed.
The next morning we woke up and I hopped in with Van 1 to head to Mt. Hood. It was quite chilly and breezy at the base of Mt. Hood, but it was a fun atmosphere. This was my 4th big road relay, but it was my first time in Van 1. It was great to be there at the start as we started our journey across a large chunk of Oregon. My father-in-law, Jerry, ran Leg 1.
Jerry handed off to Cyndi for Leg 2.
The first few legs of Hood to Coast are pretty steep downhill. However, I was running Leg 5 which had a decent amount of uphill to it. I was targeting a ~6:30 pace for the whole race, so I figured I might take it easy on my first leg. I ended up feeling pretty good and hitting a 6:23 pace. All three of our volunteers were on my leg, so that was pretty fun. Two of them were handing out water and the third was at Exchange 5. Overall it was a nice first leg.
I handed off to Monte, who was 2-3 minutes late to the exchange thanks to a long line of traffic. I promptly drank my first chocolate milk, which I now believe is the secret to keeping my stomach calm during a relay.
We met up with Van 2 at Exchange 6. They were excited to be starting their first legs. We had some spectators who met us there as well. Also, we substituted a few runners in and out. Since it was Jerry’s 70th birthday, he wanted to give a some of his 34 (?) grandkids an opportunity to run, and they couldn’t all handle three legs. Also, Cyndi had just delivered a baby ~7 weeks earlier, so she only ran one leg. This isn’t exactly up to regulation, but we weren’t exactly a competitive team.
Van 1 stopped for a while at a nearby Wendy’s and we met up with our volunteers there. My daughter, Paisley, was now in the van in Cyndi’s place, and we each had a baked potato. That was probably the nicest meal I’ve ever had during a road relay. After relaxing for a while, we endured rush hour traffic through Portland to get to Exchange 12.
Paisley would be running Leg 13, but since it’s on the river front (with a river front type of crowd mulling around) and it would be getting dark, I ran with her for her 4+ miles. It was a nice and easy pace, so it felt pretty good. She was super nervous to take the hand off in front of the big Exchange 12 crowd under the overpass.
She had a nice finish and was really excited to be part of the relay team.
I gobbled a Kind bar and a breakfast bar to refuel before my next run.
Jerry ran Leg 14, then Tyrel ran Leg 15, then Christy ran leg 16. The Hood to Coast traffic was starting to back up considerably at some of the exchanges. We had to wait a long time before Christy could get out of the van to meet Tyrel.
It was back to me for Leg 17. While I was waiting in line at the Honey Bucket, I had a nice conversation with a Marathon Maniac. He said he was getting too old to run, and he had lost count of how many marathons he’d done.
I was a little nervous for my third run in the last 12 or hours. It would be my longest, and I wasn’t sure how fast I’d be able to go. Fortunately it was a nice temperature with little wind and I ended up feeling just fine. I went faster than expected — hitting 6:10/mile (excluding the annoying 37 second stop I had to make at a crosswalk right before the end).
At this point I really wanted to take a shower, and there was one at this exchange, but we had to move to Exchange 18. It annoyed me that all the showers were basically unavailable to the 5th and 6th runner in Van 1.
I don’t remember Exchange 18 very well, except that Van 2 complained that we had kept them awake by texting at each of our exchanges. I asked them if they were familiar with “airplane mode” and I also reminded them that at Exchange 6 they had complained that we didn’t give them enough information. It was pretty funny to me, although I do feel bad they didn’t get to sleep as much as expected.
We made the drive to exchange 24. When we got there we were all very tired. It was foggy and dark and this would be our one chance to sleep. We had planned on having a big tent set up, but there was a miscommunication and it didn’t work out. I ended up just placing a tarp on the ground and rolling out my pad and sleeping bag on top of it. None of the other people in my car came with me, so I just set my alarm to make sure I could find them before it was time to go. There was some risk of getting lost in this huge, dark exchange.
Eventually our other van arrived and we found them despite the lack of cell phone reception. I didn’t even see their runner come in because I was getting ready to get back in the car. Christy started running just before 6am, right as dawn approached.
Jerry and Tyrel both ran about 6 miles. Traffic was getting bad, and Jerry had to wait a few minutes for Tyrel to use the Honey Bucket. Tyrel had a strong run and passed loads of runners that were slowing down on their final leg. Paisley went really fast on her run, and traffic was such that I jogged the last half mile with her at a 7:30 pace.
I then reset my watch and headed out for Leg 29, my most challenging leg: a 6 mile run with 566 ft vertical. I hit it really hard. I was trying to pass as many people as possible to keep up with all the people Tyrel passed, but that didn’t happen. I passed a couple dozen people, but overall everyone was pushing hard up the hill. At the top of the hill there was a small of people cheering, including my van. That made this leg extra fun. I pushed hard down the hill as well and I came in at a 6:11 pace, which I was very happy with.
Monte took the baton and our van headed to the last big exchange before the finish. There were tons of people, and we had been running faster than expected, so we spread out to find our other van and give them a heads up. I eventually found them and they were surprised to see us. They had been battling traffic and had only been at the exchange for 30 minutes or so, so they weren’t thrilled to see us. They got going and Van 1 was very happy to be done.
Some of us took a much needed shower at Seaside and then spent some time at the beach waiting for our team. We all finished together and we celebrated with a delicious seafood lunch.
I’ve learned a few things during previous relays that helped make this one my most successful in terms of comfort level:
Drink a big chocolate milk immediately after each leg you run
Have a good plan for warm, substantial food
Don’t try to sleep in the van at major exchanges. Bring a sleeping bag and use it.
Backpacking gear can be very useful
Relays aren’t exactly my favorite type of race, but they can definitely be fun and challenging. I’m sure I’ll do more in the future, and I hope Hood 2 Coast is included in that.
Having done the Ragnar Wasatch Back road race a couple times, I had some interest in trying out a Ragnar Trail. Not enough interest to actually put together a team, but enough to want to try it out “some day”.
A few weeks ago a great opportunity presented itself. A local team was looking for a last runner two weeks before the Ragnar Trail Zion UT race. Out of desperation the team captain, Nate, contacted me via Strava and asked if I’d be interested in joining the team. After some discussion I decided to give it a try and I committed to coming. I had never been to Zion and thought it would be fun.
I didn’t really know Nate. I had unknowingly stolen a segment from him last year during the Shamrock Shuffle (which I consider my best race ever), and he promptly stole it back. We then started “following” each other and that was about the extent of our relationship. It turns out we had run against each other in high school, but I didn’t remember that. I actually only kind of knew one person on the team, but I knew the names of two or three others, having seen them on Strava and race results.
One thing I did know about the team is that everyone was pretty fast and they expected to win the race. This would be a bit different than the teams I’m normally on, which are generally a hodgepodge of runners varying in speed and age. There are advantages and disadvantages to either type of team. The main point with a relay, or any race for that matter, should be to have some fun. That said, it’s fun to throw in some competition and challenge yourself.
We met up on Thursday before the race, threw our gear into a big van, and hit the road. It was nice to put some names to faces, as I had only met one of these guys before. We drove down to Springville, UT (near Provo) and stayed at a hotel. On Friday morning we woke up and drove to Zion Ponderosa Ranch, where the race would take place. We took lots of bathroom breaks on the way due to a van full of well-hydrated runners.
One nice thing about being on a fast team is that we had a late start time of 3pm — pulled in from 5pm due to heat and other teams. Many runners had already been on the course for hours before we arrived. We were still able to secure an awesome camping location right at the finish line. Some people like to camp farther away to avoid the noise. I get this, but our spot was really fun.
During a Ragnar Trail, each runner takes turns running the same three loops in different order:
Green loop: 3.1 miles with 213ft elevation gain. This loop was fairly easy, although the last mile was fairly technical.
Yellow loop: 4.3 miles with 722 ft elevation gain. A tough climb followed by a windy downhill on single track.
Red loop: 7.6 miles with 1048 ft elevation gain. A mix of tough climbing, technical downhill, and longer distance.
Our relay was set up like this:
Followed by Nate, Barak, me, Ryan G., and finally Kevin.
Each of the runners faced a different amount of light, darkness, heat, and wind. The order of the runs also made a difference.
Our first few runners were all pretty speedy, as expected. It was hot and windy, but everyone was still excited to be running. Tyson was dealing with some stomach issues, but he still put in a good time.
I started out with my Red run at 6pm. Cade had run it earlier and gave me a brief overview. It was still pretty hot and there was a ~20mph wind which had peaked around 4-5pm. I pushed hard on the uphill and quickly realized that my hill training during the past couple months was insufficient (no thanks to a knee injury that took out most of my April). It was crazy how many people I passed. There were a lot of walkers, especially on the uphill, and many people were taking it pretty easy on the downhill. My goal was to at least be below an 8 minute pace and with the downhill I was able to get some time back. I pushed hard on the downhill and my knee started to get a little unsteady. I also noticed I was already burning out my quads on my first of three runs. With about 1.5mi left the course went onto a nice dirt road and I picked up some time. Then there was a little more uphill and a fun ending: we ran through several campsites with people cheering and giving high-fives. I finished pretty strong and was happy with a time of ~59 minutes.
Immediately after my run I drank a chocolate milk and headed to eat my free dinner. I wanted to refuel as soon as possible so that I could recover and digest the food. One tough thing about being on a “fast” team is that you only have about 4-5 hours from the end of one run to the beginning of your next run. I tried to rest a bit, but sleep wasn’t going to happen. I have a lot of irrational anxiety in relays as I worry about being ready for my next run on time.
I started the yellow loop at about 11:20. The temperature was nice, but it was very dark. My uphill portion went a little slow. I could tell I was dragging and paying the price for a hard red run. I figured I could make up some time on the downhill; however, despite having a cheap headlamp as well as a flashlight in my hand, I couldn’t see the trail clearly on the downhill. I had to slow down my pace to avoid tripping and stumbling on the rutty single track trail. I was much slower than the downhill portion of the red, and not due to fatigue. This was very frustrating and I finished a bit disappointed and unsatisfied.
I again drank some chocolate milk and also made myself some oatmeal.
And I ate some bacon. Nate had brought ~12 lbs of bacon which he started cooking up about the time I left on my yellow run. Since we were right next to the course, he and Kevin began advertising the bacon to people finishing their loops. Some were extremely grateful and it made their night. The announcer started noticing people coming across the finish line eating bacon and mentioned as much. Eventually they took some to her. Other people turned down the bacon, of course. A couple said (rather snootily) when they were offered a piece, “I’m vegetarian.”
Eventually I laid down in the tent in my sleeping bag. It was dark and getting cold. There were issues with the finish line timing, so the announcer was constantly calling out team numbers to alert runners who was coming in. This amounted to torture for someone trying to sleep. Imagine someone in your bedroom randomly calling out numbers between 1 and 425 after you lay down. That’s what it was like, but it was still worth being close to the finish to be close to the action. I was also battling my irrational relay anxiety of worrying about missing my next leg. I figured I could lay down and rest my legs and heart even if I wasn’t actually sleeping much. I spent about 2-2.5 hours in my sleeping bag “resting”.
Finally it was time for my green loop at 5:30am. It was cold and dark, my energy was gone, and my legs were tight. Fortunately it was only a 5k loop with relatively flat terrain. I stood by the fire until I heard Barak’s number called so I could keep warm.
It took about 1.5 miles into the run before I really felt warmed up. I appreciated the flatness, the wider dirt road, and a very bright headlamp that Nate loaned me. I was able to open up a bit and I tried to quicken my pace as much as possible. It got a little technical in the last mile which slowed things down, but that was fine with me at this point.
I was really happy to be done. After another chocolate milk, which I assumed no one wanted but apparently someone was saving (sorry Tyson!) I was able to take a hot shower. It was glorious and just what I needed.
We waited for Kevin to finish up. He was our last and fastest runner and came through with a great time and completely filthy from a fall on the red loop.
We ended with a time of 16:36:15, which is something like an 8:18/mile pace. That also includes exchanges, which ranged from 10 seconds to a minute or so each. Before actually running the course I would have thought that would be a slow time, but the hills were a significant factor and really slowed runners down. I think our team would have done a 6:30 or better pace on a flat road. The median time across all ~425 teams was about 27.5 hours, or a little under a 14:00/mile pace.
After some photos we packed up and headed home. We were considering doing the Angel’s Landing hike in Zion’s National Park, but we quickly agreed to just drive through. I was very impressed by the drive through the park and I plan on going back to spend some quality time there someday.
We stopped for gas a few times on the way home as well as Five Guys for some greasy burgers and fries. I finally arrived to my house around 9:15pm, exhausted and sore.
It was a great trip. It was fun to be on a team with a bunch of guys that I could compete against, even though I’m slower than about half of them (or more depending on the distance). The guys were fun to be around and talk running among other things. I liked the camping aspect, but it honestly felt a lot like a Road Ragnar. The advantage was being able to see a lot of other runners and being able to see all of our runners finish their loops (unless I was sleeping or something).
I’ll be considering Ragnar Trail Zion UT again next year if the opportunity arises.
I had never done a Ragnar relay before, but last weekend, June 17-18, Cyndi and I joined a team for the 2016 Ragnar Wasatch Back. It was a different experience than my usual marathon or half marathon.
Originally, Cyndi’s dad and sister were going to run on the team (instead of me and Cyndi). But her sister’s daughter had a recital the same weekend so she dropped out. Cyndi’s dad recruited Cyndi and I planned on being backup. Then Cyndi’s dad had some knee problems and family issues that arose, so that left Cyndi and me. Cyndi was acquainted with one person on the team, but I had never met any of them.
I have only a little history participating in relay races. Back in 1999 and 2001 I ran in the Sawtooth Relay in Idaho when it was ~130 miles for a 12 person team. (Now it is ~60 miles for 6 people.) I was in high school for the first one. Then I was a recent college freshman for the second Sawtooth Relay on a team I didn’t know. It was pretty fun but I honestly don’t remember the details very well.
Then in 2011 I ran in the Hood to Coast Relay — which was one of the first big, 200 mile, 12 person relays. In fact, Hood to Coast inspired the Ragnar founders to create their first Ragnar. I didn’t have a great experience in that relay. That particular year, the HtC organizers added 25% more teams and the traffic was horrendous. We used my van and I didn’t get a wink of sleep all night because I was driving or staying awake to make sure the driver was alert and ok. I don’t do very well on little sleep and it showed by the end when I was utterly exhausted. I had one brother-in-law in my van that I knew, but not really well, and besides that I didn’t know anyone in our van.
However, it has been a few years and I was ready to try another relay — especially a Ragnar which I know are quite popular.
The Wasatch Back was the original Ragnar relay, and it takes place in beautiful country — small towns and cities among mountains and greenery. The elevation is mostly around 6000 feet and there are a few big climbs and descents. The race is basically from Logan, Utah to Midway, Utah.
The hardest thing we had to do pre-race was to get a babysitter for our five children for 1-2 nights. This was no small task. Luckily my mom was able to watch our two youngest and my cousin, who lives on the Wasatch Front, was able to watch our three oldest. She has similarly-aged children that play well with ours. We were grateful to have babysitting arranged once we finally did, and we are very grateful to the babysitters themselves.
Cyndi and I dropped off our littlest two on Thursday morning at my mom’s and headed for Utah. We got to my grandma’s house in the afternoon and chatted with her a bit. Then we left the three oldest there for a couple hours while Cyndi and I attended a team dinner at Olive Garden.
The team dinner was great and I highly recommend it for anyone doing a relay. It gave everyone a chance to meet each other, get acquainted, and get excited for the upcoming run. I liked the people on our team and looked forward to running the relay with them. I ate a ton (endless bread sticks and salad…) since I didn’t have to run until ~1pm the following day and since I wasn’t overly concerned about hitting a certain pace. (This is nothing like my pre-marathon meals where every bite has a purpose.)
Cyndi and I chatted with Grandma and my aunt and uncle for a while that evening, and I indulged in a few cookies and some ice cream. We got to bed by 10pm and after sleeping for a few hours I started tossing and turning like I normally do before a marathon. Finally the alarm clock went off at 5:30. We got ready and drove to my cousin’s house to drop the older kids. That took an hour. Then we had to double back for another hour to reach the designated meeting spot.
Finally at 8:30am we met up with our van and set off for another 1.5 hour drive to our starting exchange.
Ragnar Wasatch Back Exchange 6
Exchange 6 — where Van 1 hands off to Van 2 for the first time — was in Liberty, UT. When we came through the canyon into the valley where Liberty resides — part of the Wasatch Back — we were immediately taken aback by the beauty of the area. Everything was green, the sun was shining, and there was a glorious mountain backdrop in every direction.
When we got to the exchange, we had to sign a waiver and watch a Ragnar safety video. Then we walked around the booths. There was a booth for BEX Sunglasses with a basketball hoop and I scored a free shirt by making 4 of 5 free throws! The sunglasses are quite nice, but a little out of my price range (5 kids –> cheap sunglasses).
Another booth was handing out samples of Halfpops, which turn out to be quite tasty. You know when you pop popcorn and there are some kernels that are only partially popped? That’s what they are. I tried about 4 flavors and liked them all. I also scored a cowbell at the Great Clips booth.
We took some photos and then Van 1 showed up, except for Emily, who was running.
Van 1 had been running since 5am. Eventually Emily came around the corner, handed off to Cyndi, and Ragnar Wasatch Back relay started for us Van 2 folks.
Cyndi would hand off to Bert,
who would hand off to Ben,
who would hand off to Kelly,
who would hand off to me,
who would hand off to Matt.
It felt really hot by the time it was my turn to run. It was 1:46pm and 82F with the sun shining brightly, but something about the altitude made it feel even hotter. My leg, which was Leg 11 of Ragnar Wasatch Back, was only 4.4 miles long. The “10k pace” I had used to estimate my times was 6:15/mi, so that became my goal. I didn’t want to go too hard in this first leg because my next one would be more challenging, but I still pushed the pace the best I could. I did some warm ups prior to the run and I was ready to go when Kelly came around the corner.
My run went by fairly quickly. I passed a few people, which made it more interesting, but we weren’t really there to compete. There was a bit of a headwind for part of it, but I averaged 6:13/mi which I was happy with.
I handed off to Matt and he had the pleasure of a ~7 mile climb up to a ski resort. Our van headed to the resort to wait for him and meet up with Van 1.
While we waited at the resort, I whipped out my backpacking stove and boiled some water in the parking lot so that Cyndi and I could eat some Mountain House meals we had brought along. The lodge was selling delicious looking burgers for ~$15 each, but Cyndi and I are way too cheap. Besides, I didn’t particularly want to eat a burger in between my runs. The Mountain House meals were delicious and I highly recommend them for relays.
Matt was handing back to Van 1, so they were also at the resort and it was fun to be around them for an hour or so while we waited.
When Matt came in and Van 1 left, Matt, Kelly, Bert, and Ben all got one of the burgers. I polished off some of the leftover fries and unwanted pickles, but thanks to the Mountain House I was pretty satisfied food-wise at that point.
We then made our way to Exchange 18, which was at a high school. We had about 3-4 hours of down time. Luckily I had brought a book along, so I rolled out my sleeping bag in the shade and read my book and relaxed. The wait was quite long. Fortunately, we were noticing that our team was one of the first through, so we didn’t have to fight for shade or battle traffic.
My stomach was beginning to rebel at this point. I think I was eating to many carbs and irregular junk. Next time I’ll try to bring more balanced food (i.e., more fats and protein).
It was hot for most of the afternoon, but by the time Van 1 pulled up and Cyndi toed the line for Leg 19, it was beginning to cool down. She had a beautiful run through green, barn-strewn country. Starting with her leg it was time to wear reflective gear and lights.
After starting and stopping for the other runners in our van, it was time for me to run again just after 11pm. It was really cooling off, but it was actually great running weather and I continued sporting my tank top. I noticed some people leave for their run in full hoodies and I knew that was a mistake.
My stomach was rebelling, but it hadn’t gotten bad enough that I was too worried about it. I put some TP in my pocket just in case, but I ended up feeling fine once I got going.
This leg was nearly 10 miles (I measured 9.62, but started my watch about a quarter mile late). It was dark. The darkness didn’t matter until I had to start running on some trails and I had to pay extra attention to where I was stepping. The terrain varied between road, weedy gravel trail, rutted dirt trail, and weedy sandy trail. I asked my van to give me some water around Mile 3 to make sure I was OK, and at that point I told them I’d be find for the remainder. I also took a Honey Stinger to provide an extra boost.
I tried to push the pace, but between the trail and some slight elevation gain, not to mention the altitude, I wasn’t able to maintain 6:15/mi. At one point I wasn’t sure I was on the right trail, and the insecurity slowed me a bit. However, I still hit 6:41/mi and fortunately my stomach felt fine during the run.
(The Wednesday after the relay I was able to do a 10 mile training run at 6am by myself at a 6:37/mi pace — so I’m fairly sure the altitude, small hills, trail, and wariness from my previous run were affecting me.)
It was enjoyable to run under a bright moon in the cool mountain air. I pushed myself and worked to maintain a good pace. I passed about a dozen people, but most of the time I couldn’t see any other runners around. It was always a relief to see someone as that gave me confidence that I was on the right track.
I was happy to hand off to Matt and be done with my toughest leg.
Delay at Exchange 24
Matt had a short ~2.5 mile run and was done at about 12:30am. Unfortunately, the Ragnar folks notified us that our team was being held for 1 hour. This means that the Van 1 runners had to wait 1 hour before they would be allowed to run. That really stunk for them, as they were ready to go when we got the notice.
We weren’t thrilled about the delay. Ragnar had given us a spreadsheet with our estimated exchange times, and we were only 15 minutes off. Plus, we were actually 15 minutes late rather than early, so it didn’t make sense that we would be delayed. Oh well. There are perks to being one of the first teams through, but there can also be downsides.
We were at a high school, and my team was nice enough to let me take a shower even though everyone else just wanted to hit the road. The locker room shower cost $2, but it was money well spent. It felt fantastic to get clean and get in some warm water. I hurried and we took off for Exchange 30 once I got back to the car.
Trying to Sleep at Exchange 30
It was after 1am at this point and we were all exhausted and delirious and looking forward to sleep, but this led to some foolishness. We pulled into Exchange 30 at Park City and we were the first van there. It was a dirt/gravel lot, so we parked the van… and then we just slept. There was no grass in sight and half the people in the van were already asleep, so we didn’t want to wake everyone up. Rather than getting out and laying down in our sleeping bags, we just slept uncomfortably in the car and tossed and turned all night. Fortunately I was tired enough that I could sleep some; unfortunately I am 6’4″ and sleeping in the back seat of a van is not comfortable.
I was happy when we could finally wake up and stretch our legs. My stomach was also feeling much better. I heated up some water on my stove in the parking lot and made some oatmeal and hot cocoa which tasted amazing and soothed my stomach even more. I noticed there was a roped off area with about 50 people in sleeping bags on the hard gravel. I’m not sure I would have slept much better there since I didn’t bring a pad.
Van 1 showed up and we waited for Emily to come up the hill. Cyndi took off after Emily showed up and we were all ready for our final legs. Van 1 got to go relax and have a big breakfast after a long night of running.
Bert was up for Leg 32 — the Ragnar hill. It started at the bottom of a ski resort and climbed about 3000 feet in 5 miles to the top, then dropped several hundred feet for the last mile. He said much of it was not runable because it was so steep. He did great on it and got his own medal for doing it. The next two legs were super steep downhill and about 4 miles each.
Leg 35 – Almost done!
I had a short 2.5 mile leg to finish up. It was nice that I didn’t have to worry about it, although I would have welcomed something a little more challenging. I determined to go as fast as possible.
We waited a little longer than I had anticipated, so luckily Ben spotted me some Mike & Ike’s as I was feeling a little hungry and light headed. Once Kelly came around the corner, I took off at a brisk pace. I was well under 6:00/mi, so I determined to try to stay under 6:00 for the whole run.
I only passed a few people as runners were fairly spread out and it was short. I felt good the whole run and was pleased to come in at a 5:59/mi pace.
That wrapped up my running for the Ragnar Wasatch Back relay, and I felt great.
Post Race at the Ragnar Wasatch Back
We headed to the finish line to wait for Matt. He had a tough run as the temperature was heating up, the sun was out, and he had some hills to battle — not to mention his run was ~1 mile longer than expected.
The finish line is a bit of a party. There were a bunch of booths set up. Each van got a Little Caesar’s pizza. There were also Fat Boys and Muscle Milk. BEX Sunglasses was there again. I arrived as most of the BYU team had finish attempting shots. Since none of them won anything, the BEX team told them whoever won a game of Bump could get a free hat. Bert and I joined in. I missed a shot and immediately got out. Bert lasted a while before losing out. Fortunately I made 3 of 5 three pointers and was able to get a nice hat to go with my shirt from the day before!
When Matt came through our whole Aching Bad team joined him for the final 50 yards or so. It was great to be done after ~200 miles! We received our medals and snapped some team photos.
Since we were one of the early teams to finish, we even made the scoreboard for a few minutes.
Final Thoughts on the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay
Overall I had a solid experience in the 2016 Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay. Relays are definitely a different experience than the races I usually do (marathons and half marathons). The running isn’t terribly difficult, especially compared to a marathon, but there are other things that make it difficult: lack of sleep, all the anticipation and waiting, being on your feet quite a bit, unusual running times, being crammed into the seat of a van, being dirty, and abnormal eating conditions. All of these things make for an exhausting experience, and provide a unique challenge.
Cyndi and I, who are both mostly introverted, determined that relays work really well for extroverts. The people on your team make a huge difference. The guys in our van were funny and entertaining. There were lots of jokes, good music, funny commentary, and even a battle to see who could get the most steps on Friday between Bert and Matt (Matt edged Bert out by ~200 steps). We were fortunate to have a good team, and I think that made this experience such a good one.
Being in Van 2 helped as well, at least in this case. We had time to drop our kids off in the morning and didn’t have to wake up as early. We also didn’t have to run all through the night. And the event was ~4 hours shorter for us than for Van 1.
Would I do the Ragnar Wasatch Back again? Yes. Would I do another (different) relay? Yes. But I don’t expect to dedicate myself to running them like I have to marathon running. Relays are fun and some people absolutely love them. Bert has run Hood To Coast 21 times and multiple Ragnars in addition to that, so obviously some people love them. I enjoyed it, but marathons are much easier logistically and are more up my alley.
Nevertheless, I’ve found myself pondering when my next relay will be and whether I should organize something with a fun group of people…