Ragnar 2015 - Great River Adventure!

At the starting line in Winona, MN - almost 6am

Wednesday night was going like any other when I got a text from a good friend who I ran with in Mom's On The Run last summer. She asked if I wanted to run Ragnar, as one of the team mates had to drop out last minute.

Okay, what? I asked my husband if it was okay and he said yeah that's fine when is it. So I texted back thinking I had a week or two to at least warm up to the idea of running 200ish miles with two teams of 12. What I did not expect was that it started THAT Friday and I had to leave the next day around 5:30pm!!
Our awesomly decorated van 
Less than 24 hours to prep for Ragnar? Alright let's do it! This post is about my last minute adventure on one of the greatest running feats of my life.

For those of you who don't know what Ragnar is, it is a course mapped out into 36 legs of 200ish miles for teams of 12 to run from point A to point B. Our point A was Winona, MN and point B was downtown Minneapolis, MN. Each team member runs 3 legs, each being a different mileage. We ran the Great River Ragnar Relay and our team started at 6am on Friday morning. Nothing like running 200ish miles with 23 other women (we had two teams so we all had running partners) at the last minute.
Kills are people you pass on your leg

Wednesday night I had a LOT to do, so I got home and started packing through my mad excitement which was quite interesting to say the least. In fact the only thing I forgot was my phone car charger, which wasn't such a big deal, more of a pain in my butt as my phone died a lot and I had to find random places to charge since my van all had iPhone's. Needless to say I slept very little Wednesday night because I was excited and nervous. I knew some of the people I was running with from the previous year at MOTR, but none very well, so I had no idea what I was in for on this ridiculous trip.

Team Heart and Sole
Thursday we met at Langley's house and I kind of stood around like a fool while everyone excitedly talked about it as they all knew each other. We hopped in the van around 6ish and drove the 2ish hours to Winona. We made the pre-register tent JUST IN TIME. We were the LAST TEAM they let check in the night before even though we were 4 minutes past 8, which is when they shut down. I was SO grateful for this as we already had to get up early and there was no way I wouldn't have been annoyed at 5:15 am watching a ridiculous safety video and such.

We got checked in and I bought some fab Ragnar gear for the finish line as everyone had a wonderful shirt I missed out on due to the fact I was so last minute so I wanted my own cool stuff (who wouldn't right?). We went to the Green Mill to get our last real meal until who know's when and the place was JUST PACKED. I don't think we ate for a good hour and a half because it was so busy and I know we were the last one's out of the restuarant. Went to the Holiday Inn around 11ish, showered and tried to sleep. None of us really got any sleep.

Then the alarm went off. Snooze. Alaram went off again. I was lucky to be in a room of 3 other cool ladies who are quiet in the AM and quick at getting ready like me so we were all pretty good at getting out the door (first of our group) and eating a quick breakfast of yogurt and a banana (as I pounded water; they told us the heat index would be about 105!!!). Hopped in the van and headed to the start line. What an exciting part of the whole ordeal! We got pictures taken, got our first runner's ready to go and off they went at 6am! Tears welled in my eyes as our runners headed to the first Exchange. Here I was, a part of this amazing journey with new people in as little as 23 hours. I had no idea the day before I would be doing this.
Me before my first leg

First leg down, second leg down, third leg was all mine. I ran with Langley, who is a wonderful person and was just a joy to run with. Our first leg was 5.3 miles and the sun was just coming up when we took off. There were ZERO clouds and the humidity was starting. That leg felt like quite a long time to be honest and we hit a small section where they had flags lined up. Silly me though it was the finish line so took off my bracelet and was asking my team mates cheering us on who was next hahaha! Oh little did I know at the end of the flag tunnel was our "1 mile left" marker! BUMMER! That last mile felt like FOREVER! But we did it! First leg down, two left for us!

After this our team ran into a little bump as the heat and humidity increased. One of our runners on Leg 4 got heat exhaustion and was taken to our first major Exchange (Exchange 6) to get help from 1st aid. Our van went straight there to check on her. We totally thought they were going to send her home but they didn't. We ended up standing around Exchange 6 for a good few hours waiting for our other runners. The heat slowed almost everyone down but this was our last set of legs until our Van 2's showed up and ran their first set.

Exchange 6 - in the middle of corn fields 

So wait, you might say, this is confusing. Why yes, yes it is. See each team has 2 vans. 6 people per van. The first van goes to the start line and then run's legs 1-6. Van 2 shows up at Exchange 6 and runs legs 7-12. Van 1 then meets them at Exchange 12 and runs legs 13-18. Van 1 and 2 meet at Exchange 18 and Van 2 runs legs 18-24. Van 1 meets them at Exchange 24 and runs legs 25-30. Meet at Exchange 30 and Van 2 runs the last set of legs which are 30-36. Then we all wait for the last set of runners to get to the finish line and as they announce your numbers you run across as a team! Which is what we did around 7ish on Saturday!

Everyone Hanging out at Exchange 12
Now that that is out of the way! We drove to Exchange 12 and lazed around as much as possible. We got food at a tiny bar up the road (our second real meal) then headed back to the campground that Exchange 12 was at and tried to sleep, which was pretty much impossible. Then the darkness fell. We were set back from the heat slowing us down and our incident at Exchange 6 so instead of starting to run our second set of legs at around 7pm, we didn't start until about 10pm. Langley and I started our second leg, which was leg 15 at about midnight. The nice part about the night was there was no sun beating on your body as you ran on hot pavement. It was still humid and we ran through a lot of fog, but the heat wasn't TOO bad. We did have a creepy stretch of road though, so I was VERY happy for a running buddy! I would have ran much faster probably if I was alone though, just out of fear hahaha!

After we all ran our second set of legs, everyone was EXHAUSTED! Jen decided to drive to Stillwater to Exchange 18, since we needed to get SOME sort of sleep! Pretty crazy drive that was. I was navigator and Wendy, who ran our last leg of that set, were the only one's awake. Boy, was that an intense drive. Fog, exhaustion and hunger do not mix well when driving that late at night. I thought we were going to die a few times but we made it! What a funny experience to say the least. Everyone gets so weird when tired and I am no exception to that!
Exchange 12 Pavilion where I charged my Phone

We got to Exchange 18 and come to find out the gym to sleep in was miserably hot. So we ended up sleeping on a tennis court. Yup, you heard that right, a tennis court. Next year I am SO bringing my hammock. The geniuses who did were the lucky one's not on hard ground. I think I may have gotten an hour and a half of sleep due to sheer exhaustion. I woke up to a spider zooming towards my face. I swore out loud and grabbed my bag and smashed it with my shoe, to only climb back into my wet sleeping bag (from the dew) and pass back out for 15-20 minutes. Had to get what I could! Woke up and had to pee SO bad so Wendy and I headed out to find bathrooms. Lovely outhouses those were....some places were running out of TP and the lack of running water, sweatiness and dampness were just plain gross.
"One Mile Left" marker on my last leg

We didn't start our last set of legs until like 11am, which was a shame since we were so set back. I won't mention how we actually ended up finishing, because yeah, pretty ridic. But we did it! My last leg, which was Leg 27, was all sorts of hell. So hot, my body screaming at me like what the hell are you thinking! No sleep, hardly any food and no shower? Really? But we did it! The end of our leg was a HUGE hill, and I mean a mountain! I walked most of the way up. Like hell no man. That is just ridiculous. We made it and that was it! Drove to Exchange 30 and found Coach Kristina, changed into our finish line clothes and then headed to the finish line, only to wait again for our last runners to get to that line.

While I waited I totally got my free beer. At the bottom of our bibs was a tear off for a free beer at the finish line. Then Shelly was OH SO KIND to give me her's so actually I got two free beers. So salty and after not eating a whole lot, yeah I felt it. I needed that boost though. Crabby, hot and exhausted; yeah, not a good combo.

Crossing that finish line was SO worth all the craziness and heat we had just put our bodies through. The accomplishment is VERY real and I mean, who does this sort of thing? Runs 200ish miles with other people over a two day period for a medal, bib and the pride of finishing such a crazy running task. No showers, no sleep, hardly any food, running in 90+ degrees not counting humidity. I am so proud of myself, especially because I didn't even train for this AT ALL! I lucked out with short legs but still! No training? Come on, I rocked it!
Crossing a Finish Line NEVER felt so good!

I couldn't wait to get home that night and when I finally did I showered (oh it was SO very nice to shower!) and put my son to sleep. I snuggled him and thought to myself, "I'm going to pass out." Sure enough, I didn't wake up until almost 8:30am the next day when my husband woke me up. Good thing my kid has a queen sized bed.
Team Photo at the finish

After all this craziness, Ragnar has got to the most fun I have ever had in my life. The test of my will power and emotional power along with the awesome van of women I had just the best time with, has taught me more about myself than I ever thought I had in me. One lady at Exchange 12 told us that this was much harder than even running a marathon. Well take into factor the lack of sleep, hardly and food and pushing oneself to the limit, it is definitely  a test of endurance. I am happy to say I accomplished it.
My medal, bib, and Ragnar gear

So to those of you who run and have never heard of Ragnar, or who have and haven't done it, here is the link and I URGE you to go check this thing out. Get a team together and run the relay of your life! You will not regret it! Ragnar Relay Website

Team Medals all come together to say this!

12 people
2 vans
200ish miles

or in our circumstance

24 people
4 vans
200ish miles

Coolest group of women EVER!


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