Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Race Report: Ragnar Trail Relay, Snowmass

Volunteering at the aid station
So, the day we moved out of House 6, we flew to Toronto, for Memorial Day weekend and a super-duper fun time with our cousins. We love them, and we love that we all get along so well! You can't always say that about biological family, but we (ok, I, but seriously, Eric's been around for 18 years, so people are starting to forget which one is biological).

We got back on Tuesday. I worked Wednesday and Thursday, and then it was time for another adventure. I was up early on Friday morning, and down to the neighbor's house next door to the House in the Woods. We had gotten along well, and toward the end of our time there, Paul and I had talked about this race, which I had done last year. When MaryJane was putting together a team for this year, we asked him to come along, and not only did he say yes, he agreed to drive. His wife, Donna, a great supporter but not a runner, came along as well. So, by 7am, we were packed up and on our way to the mountains. We arrived in Snowmass, and unpacked to our campsite, which was on the baseball field of the rec center in the village. Our race time was 1:30pm, but I didn't see our start as I was out on the course itself. Each time was required to provide a volunteer shift, and I took ours since I didn't have to run right away. I manned the water station 2.5 miles into the longest (red) leg of the race, and got to cheer on the early runners. I should note that teams started every half hour from 10am to 5pm. Cheering runners is really fun! I would love to volunteer at more races... it just seems like I am in them all the time!

Anyway, after my shift, I came back to the campsite, in time to see MaryJane on her way out on her first leg. I changed and got ready for my first leg, which started about 5:30.

The race runs like this: teams of 8 runners take turns on a course that has three loops. Every runner runs all three loops for about 15.5 miles each, total. You run until all legs are finished, between some time on Friday to some time on Saturday, continuously.

When my leg, the middle leg of the three, started, it was hot. I'm not sure how its possible for it to be 80+ in early June in the mountains, but it was. The first .4 of a mile was relatively flat, allowing my lungs to kick in to the altitude of about 8,000 feet. That's not terribly much higher than where we are normally, but it does make a difference. After that however, the terrain started to climb. Climbing in the heat was less fun than I expected it to be, and by the time I started back down hill, I realized I had pushed it pretty hard, and my stomach was starting to revolt. Don't ask why my stomach was the problem, but it was. It continued to revolt after my finish and for the next 9 hours.

That peak off in the distance? Yep, that's the high point
of the Red Leg.
Which wasn't so great since my next leg was less than 9 hours away. We went to dinner and I downed some salad and pasta, then took an extended nap, in between having to pee (of course.) Our team, not because of me but because of others, was running ahead of schedule, and by 1:30am, I was back on the course again. My overnight leg was the easiest of the three, but in the dark it was a bit more challenging (albeit cooler, including when I got smacked in the face with a sprinkler running by the soccer fields.) Because it had been so  dry, the trail exuded a fine dust overnight, which occluded by ability to see, even with an LED headlamp. I did my best and felt like I could have gone quite a bit faster, but not being able to see the terrain got in the way.

Back to the campsite for another nap while my teammates completed their legs. We were mostly all up by sunrise, hanging about the camp, figuring out what to eat (or not), and thinking about our 3rd legs.

Our runner, Paul, is out there somewhere, coming in
for the finish
My third leg didn't happen until about 10:30 in the morning, and by then, it was hot again. I had the longest leg with the most elevation gain (over 1,000 feet) for the last leg. It was hot already, with the sun beating down. The first mile rolled through a golf course and turned through a neighborhood, then started consistently climbing up through a neighborhood. By the time I hit my old volunteer station at mile 2.5, I was struggling, and still had single track and another mile plus uphill to go. The scenery is gorgeous up there - 9,000 feet above sea level, on a ridge that opens to mountain views on both sides. Absolutely beautiful, but also open with full sun. Coming down wasn't much better, although the fact of the downhill meant I could go faster... that was until I stopped to see if another runner and the medic who bushwacked several miles to get to him needed anything. I gave the runner the Gatorade I had brought with me, and held my breath hoping he wouldn't vomit on my bottle (he didn't), then took off again. By mile 6, I was ready to be done, but there was close to another mile to go. I crossed the finish in more time I than I cared to take, but it got done.

In the end, the best part of the race was time with the other runners, but I don't honestly know if I really enjoyed the run this year like I did last year. I can only believe it was the heat, as I was in better shape this year, and didn't feel sore at all after. Will I do it again? Probably. Would I do another relay in another location?

For sure.

All the multi-tools/team medals

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