What is Ragnar Relay?
As I’ve written before, best place to learn more about the race is by looking through their official website http://www.ragnarrelay.com. The overall idea is that twelve people make up a relay team to split up a distance run that amounts to a day’s worth or more of running mileage. Ultra-teams also exist where six individuals make up the team and so the mileage split is significantly higher and therefore more challenging.
My Recent Ragnar
This past weekend I participated in the Key West Ragnar Relay race that started on Virginia Key just across from Miami and Key Biscayne–the finish being just down the road from the southernmost point of the U.S.A. on Key West. The nearly 197 miles distance was split by our twelve “Prankstars” from various backgrounds of life but our common thread being we enjoy the physical challenge presented by this race.
Crazy is as Crazy Does
A friend of mine bid me good luck with a quote from the Tom Hanks film “Forrest Gump” where the common cheer to the Hanks’ character was “Run Forrest Run!” When I first participated in this race series last year I thought I’d never subject myself to such torture again: truly, spending 24+ hours in a van with 5 other people while trying to endure long mileage runs with urban/rural difficulties, navigation of self and van, trying to stay hydrated/well-fueled and finding some rare rest. Let’s not even delve into the fact that all modesty is thrown to the wayside especially when it comes to matters of the toilet relief situation that arises and in some cases spirals out of control as the hours and mileage increase.
Teamwork Manifest and Respect Abounding
The difference of my Ragnar experience between this year and last was that in 2013 I was with my former college teammates and this year I didn’t know anyone (except that a couple had been in the ‘other’ van last year). I can’t say that one way was better than the other, however, I will admit that I actually got to know my entire team better this time around because I didn’t just cling to my own clique as I had unknowingly done last year. Within hours of meeting each other, my van had gotten down what each other’s basic stats were in life and we were immediately bonded over the fact that we had already agreed to take on our respective relay legs and mantels in this race.
Stress Exposes the Best and the Rest
A major part of the Ragnar experience to me was definitely the way all of our personalities rocked and rolled during the heat of the competition. We would enjoy comedic relief dialogue with each other about ourselves as well as what we witnessed on our journey together. Then there were the moments we had stress reigning down as we tried to navigate to our next switch points or assist a teammate currently running–overall I was impressed that everyone strived for the good of all. Whenever any of us had a weak moment, the others automatically stepped up to help and even overlook any slights if there some as a result.
Escape without Wasting Away
The thought did cross my mind that I should have considered a two-night solo stay at a beachside hotel in lieu of participating in a competition like this where I had to arrange for childcare and other things to get away for a weekend. But being part of my team this past weekend not only afforded me the opportunity of new friendships, it was a gift of accomplishing something with others that we all offered our best toward. In the end we would find out as we traveled back home that our Prankstars had won the race in our division class!
Ragnar Again Someday? Can’t Say Nay
If you’re a distance runner and haven’t tried a Ragnar Relay race yet I would strongly encourage you to consider it. Many teams also get together and raise funds for a charity cause–this adds to the inspiration factor to endure the strenuous exercise warranted in these races. As an individual, the relay legs you run can serve as a personal spiritual vetting or a fun way to tackle physical limits not attained in your career thus far. For myself I have gained a greater respect for this series and am honored to have had the teammates thus far and look forward to the possibilities of future Ragnar Relay events.
Go Prankstars 2014!