Friday, August 14, 2015

Chase the Rainbow

This past year I have had the awesome opportunity of being an ambassador for Ragnar Road Relay Series for their race in Colorado. It is has been so fun meeting other people who love this series as much as me, and together sharing our Ragnar love! Of course this position ends with the actual race which was this past weekend. I had never run the road relay in Colorado since we had just moved to here last I had the ultimate goal of running both the Ragnar Trail and Road Relays in Colorado (bonus-you get a special double medal!). I have posted on here previously about my trail experience which was in June, and up until this point I have to admit that I liked the trail relay just a smidgen more than the road. However something amazing happened over 200 miles with 12 mostly strangers that has now swayed me towards piling 12 people into 2 vans over 2 days again and again.

I made the decision to captain a team early this year, which comes with the pressure of finding 12 people. My Dad may never forgive but I found my 1st 3 members on instagram! They were from PA and within a few weeks of talking and planning they had their tickets bought to Denver. The other team members fell into place quickly after that...another ambassador, a friend of a friend, the husband of a friend, a Saucony rep and his wife that I met once at work, a run club buddy, another friend of a friend, and HOLD THE husband!!! That's right folks...Joel got tired of me repeating all my amazing stories (that are never as funny when you try to repeat them) and decided to see for himself what all this hype is about. So 12 mostly strangers piled into 2 rental suburbans and headed to Copper Mountain to start our 200 mile relay adventure.

It all begins with decorating your "vans". Well I guess it really starts with a team name. We picked "Chase the Rainbow" going with the skittle theme. Ragnar isn't about how fast your team can go-its about the adventure and fun (their tag line is "Find your Inner Wild"). Costumes are usually involved and it is quite hilarious to see what other teams come up with in clothing and van decorating.

This might be one of the only times you will ever see me wear a tutu! Oh what one does under pressure! Our girls had a lot of fun trying to take this picture at the start line. The guys gave up after awhile and left us to it. Teams are assigned staggered start times based on their projected finishing times, and we got slotted with a 10am start. Teams started as early as 5:30am and the last group left at 11am. (this means Ragnar thought we were fast but we were slightly concerned). Amy in the orange tutu was runner 1 and started our team off with a jump and a smile right at 10am.

From the start line, teams travel in their 2 "vans". Van 1 consists of the first 6 runners and once each runner has completed 1 leg relay style, van 2 takes over so van 1 can rest and eat, and then the process is repeated 2 more times until every runner has completed 3 running legs.

Along the way, teams will "tag" other vans when their occupants aren't looking with stickers or magnets so by the end you have quite a collection. Here our runner Janelle is putting a bag of skittles (our token tag) in the skeleton's mouth of team "Motley Shues".

The Colorado Road Relay had the highest elevation for Ragnar ever marked at an exchange! It was at 10, 660 feet. This is where I got to kick off my first leg after our runner Jen climbed pretty much straight up for 4 miles. I am decked out in my night gear because, yes you run through the go until your team finishes the course. You sleep (or try to sleep) in token "rest stops" set up by Ragnar at local gyms or high schools. Some sleep in their vans. Most teams run on only a couple of hours of sleep (if even 1!).
At the end of each leg, runners check off the box! You also mark your "road kill" or how many runners you passed on your leg. This might be where competitive Mary came out (just a little). Our whole entire first set of legs in Van 2 (my van), we were at the back of the pack. Exchanges were being tore down behind us and volunteers were leaving. For about 2-3 legs, we were the last team on the course. Then slowly but surely we started racking up the road kill.

Colorado offered up some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen. It was absolutely breath taking.

 And then the costumes come out at the finish line. Our intention was to be a pack of skittles but we did get mistaken for teletubbies a few times. Oh well, we had a blast either way! Mike (our last runner) led us to the finish after taking in 27 kills in his last leg alone!

See-we look like a rainbow coming down the mountain!!! It was a fabulous finish.

 "Together we ran 200 miles"

Then it was just time to party together and belly laugh over all our adventures.

We ended up 28th out of a 161 teams and placed 1st in our division!

And there you have it folks...12 mostly strangers now best friends. It was so sad to part at the end of the weekend. Then good news: we won a free entry into Ragnar Las Vegas and are already planning our trip in November. Skittles reunite!!

And some of you may be wondering what Joel's final thoughts were on this crazy adventure. After his first leg (which was 7 miles in the dark-I was super worried he was going to hate me), he hopped in the van, looked at me and said "This. Is. Fun!". We are now laughing together at all the inside jokes and he literally can't wait till Vegas. I have found a race he actually likes!!!!

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