I met one of my runnning goals a couple weeks ago by running Ragnar Relay Great River with my team the “Muffin Top Mafia” It was an amazing, challenging, incredible experience and I can’t wait for next year!
For those who don’t know what Ragnar is. Ragnar Great River is a 204 mile relay race from Winona to Minneapolis. The course follows the Mississippi River for much of it and is VERY hilly. You have 2 vans; 6 runners in each van that take turns running for 36 hours straight. Or if you are really tough you can run it as an Ultra which is 6 runners for 204 miles. I won’t be going the ultra route any time soon!
-Follow the website directions and place your clothing in ziplocs. Not only will it keep your bag tidier, it will be a great place to put those clothes after you run and are not so fresh any more. Our van had a definite odor by the end of the relay!
-Don’t be scared of your night run! It was my favorite run of the relay! I ran on country roads with no one around for 5.8 miles. I was excited in the weeks leading up to it and then started to panic a couple days before. My other team members assured me I would love it and was safe. I ran my fastest time ever. After running my first leg in the sweltering heat of the afternoon, running in the cool night air was so refreshing. Also, I may have run faster because subconsciously I was thinking “there is no one around, run fast!”
-Ragnarians who are not lucky enough to be runner 6 or runner 12: DO NOT SAY HURRY UP SO WE CAN GO TO SLEEP! It may result in you being smacked or kicked by said runner. My wonderful team mates did NOT say this, but I heard many people saying this to their runners at the exchange. NOT NICE!
-If you are considering Ragnar hopefully you do well with little to no sleep because you won’t get a lot if it! I tried to get some sleep in the park after our van finished the first 6 legs, but I was too revved up and there were a lot of people around so I could not fall asleep. It probably didn’t help that I was Runner 6 so I was still hopped up on energy gels, adrenaline and my Energy and Endurance from my run! I did manage to get 1 1/2 hours of sleep on the gym floor in Stillwater after my night run. I also took a nap after I finished my last run as our van drove from Cottage Grove to Minneapolis. It took me an entire week to catch up on sleep after the fact.
-The showers are communal-picture gym class in middle school.
-ATTENTION RUNNER 6: Your first leg is as big of a B*tch as it appears. If you are the praying type pray for cloud cover and no humidity, that will make it more bearable. Your night run is hilly but shorter. The hills get bigger at the end. Your last leg is 4 miles that feels like 10, it was the hardest leg even though it’s listed as moderate.
-I lived on Shakeology, Gatorade, Luna bars and beef sticks. I had no appetite for anything else.
-If you want your team to love you bring beef sticks. Specifically, Meatheads (located in Red Wing, MN) cheddar/bacon and pepperjack beef sticks.
-Training: Run A LOT. Run in the dead heat, run hills, run intervals, run multiple times in a 24 hour period. RUN A LOT! I also made a point to steer clear of all alcoholic beverages and ate a very clean diet in the 2 weeks prior to ensure my body would be at it’s best. I felt well prepared when the time finally came to run.
-Even if you have never used a hydration belt get one. Just do it.
-Let your team provide you support while you run. A couple of my teamates said they didn’t need support during their day runs. Our van made the decision the check on them at some point anyway. Each of them needed the support-weather it was water to drink, water on their head, some electrolytes or an energy gel.
-Provide support to other teams! While we were waiting for our runner to go by we offered water and Gatorade to other runners who looked like they could use it. No one turned us down when we offered
-Get fun magents to stick on other vans. It’s a Ragnar tradition to leave your mark on other vans in a sneaky way. We were going to use our markers we used to decorate the van but never did. Magnets would be much easier.
-Ragnar is a lot of hurry up and wait. You will wait at exchange for your runner to come in and then hustle to the next exchange and then wait some more.
-Try really hard to get out of the van for every exchange for your van. Even if you are are not the one who will be running be a good teammate and get out of the van to cheer your runner on even if you really want to be sleeping.
-Those “1 mile to go” signs are not always accurate. Some of my teammates reported running 2 or 2.5 miles more after they saw the sign. Talk about a cruel mind game!
My biggest piece of advice…HAVE FUN AND ENJOY IT!!! It’s an unforgettable experience, don’t ruin it by taking yourself too seriously.
After reading this would YOU run Ragnar Great River?