In my last post I talked about the road to Ragnar, which was an adventure in its own right! In this post I will talk about the race experience itself. Our co-ed team was made up of 11 runners. In Van 1 (actually Yukon 1), our runners included Shawn, Andrés, Diana, Erin, and Kelly, with Erin & Kelly’s dad (AKA Van Dad) as the driver. I was in Van 2, along with Captain Angela, Rosie the Narc, Alissa the Bug Lady, Aimee the Airport Evacuee, and Tina the Rainmaker. Prior to race weekend, the only person I knew was Angela, but you quickly get to know your teammates in a Ragnar race!
We had an early start time, and on Saturday morning our Van 1 runners kicked off our adventure a little after 5:00 a.m. Those of us in Van 2 were able to sleep in a little, then headed to the local Starbucks for some much-needed caffeine. We drove to the first major exchange later in the morning where we met up with the rest of our team and waited for Shawn to come in.
By mid-morning the temperature started to rise, and about a mile before his finish Shawn texted that he needed water, but good ‘ole auto-correct changed it to ‘Qatar’, which then became the running joke for the remainder of the weekend. May I offer you some Qatar? Despite the heat Shawn came in strong, and Captain Angela was on her way!
This would be the start of Van 2’s six legs totaling 46 miles, which meant Van 1 could chill and take in a movie. And what did they go see? Why Ragnarok, of course! By mid-afternoon the Florida heat and humidity was absolutely brutal. Alissa ran a 6.9 mile leg with no water on the course. Immediately after her I ran 7.1 miles, with two separate ‘water stations’ (big water coolers but no cups, which we knew in advance so we carried water bottles with us).
This is where van support comes in during these races. We planned when to meet up with our runners along their legs to offer water, food, a towel soaked in ice water, and lots of cheers and support. Aimee had the longest leg of the race, which earned her a special medal and unfortunately a run during the hottest part of the day. Next came Tina, who ran 6.4 miles in the pouring rain. She kicked it into gear and ran faster than she had anticipated. Let it rain!
Between the heat and humidity and the intermittent rain, we were a definite set up for some bad chafing. We were fortunate the good folks at Body Glide provided some of their products to keep us chafe-free in the hot and humid Florida weather. I don’t typically have problems with chafing, but this was a different beast than I am used to, and the Body Glide definitely helped tame it!
While waiting for Tina we met up with Van 1 at the second major exchange. Their second leg totaled around 30 miles, so once we made our exchange we were off to find someplace for dinner. A couple of hours later we made it to the next exchange and Angela was on her way. She also ran in a little bit of rain and ran her fastest miles during this leg. I had very little rain to contend with on my runs, but I must admit, it was much better running in a light drizzle than in the brutal heat and humidity. Rosie was next and had just over 5 miles to run. She was off and running at around 1:30 a.m., and we planned to meet up with her about halfway into her run. About 10 minutes before we expected her, she called Angela and said she had heard from other runners that because of crime in the area, we were to pick up our runner and skip ahead to Exchange 22. Angela and Rosie switched at Exchange 19, so that meant skipping three legs. As captain of our team, Angela had not heard anything from the race officials, so she was trying to figure things out as we drove to get Rosie, who was just about 1/3 mile away from us. Lots of confusion and long story short, it seems those next couple of legs would take us through some pretty sketchy and high-crime areas, and runners were reporting feeling unsafe. I had previously stated that I did not want to run at night, still fearful after the incident I experienced in broad daylight over a year ago. This sealed the deal for me.
We scooped Rosie up and headed to Exchange 22, where lots of confused runners were starting to arrive. By this time it was around 3:30 a.m. The volunteers weren’t quite clear on what we were supposed to do, but we wanted to get our miles in, so Rosie, Alissa, Aimee, and I decided to run together. Rosie wanted to complete her 5 miles since they were interrupted in that last leg, and Alissa and I needed to get around three miles in. So the four of us ran together and at 3.1 miles Rosie and I hopped in our van as Alissa and Aimee continued on. That way all of us got our miles in and because so many of us were running together at that point, we felt completely safe running in the night. We contacted Van 1 to let them know things had changed a little so they could be at the next major exchange in time. By this time we had been awake for 24 hours, and once we made our exchange with Van 1 we headed over to the hotel Tina had booked for two glorious (and I mean glorious) hours of sleep. We got up and showered and again headed to Starbucks for some much-needed caffeine. Did I mention I hate Starbucks? I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts girl, but that morning, Starbucks never tasted so good! We somehow miscalculated and could have slept in a little more, but all was good and we headed over to our final exchange to wait for our team.
Because Tina and Aimee had flights back home on Sunday evening, we switched our last legs around a little so the two of them could run first and not miss their flights. Tina and Angela switched so Tina ran the first of our last set of legs and Angela ran the last. Much to Angela’s chagrin, that meant running in the sand for over two miles! We decided to take a team photo when Tina finished her leg, since she couldn’t be with us at the end of the race.
In between legs we had lots of time for lots of fun. Teams and vans were dressed in all kinds of costumes and oddly enough, most of them with some sort of drinking theme. We went with a wine theme and our team name was Pour Decisions. Go figure!
We ended our race at around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, with Angela running the final leg. As all teams do, just before she made it to the finish line, the remaining members of the team joined her, and we ran through the finish line together. We received our medals, and when placed together they said, “Together we ran 200-ish miles. Together we can accomplish anything”.
We marked off our progress on the side of our van and it felt sooooo good when each of us marked off our final leg! We cleaned up the van and we all headed our separate ways. I stayed overnight in South Beach and walked around in a torrential downpour looking for someplace to eat. You know, because I hadn’t put in enough miles in the previous two days.
I flew home to Chicago the following afternoon, feeling great and feeling happy to have participated in this race. Would I do another Ragnar relay? I’m not sure. But I don’t think I would do the Ragnar South Beach again. There were too many problems with the race logistics, and despite the fact that it was November, the heat and humidity were absolutely brutal.
How about you–have you ever run a Ragnar relay? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it? Did anyone out there run South Beach? I’d love to hear about your experience!