Best team name ever.
Yes, those are ninja stars.
Now that that’s out of the way, let the race recap begin! I’m still recovering from the epic experience that was Ragnar Wasatch Back. Utah brought all the extremes…heat, cold, elevation gain and loss: this race was no joke. I’m a bit of a Ragnar Veteran, so I thought this weekend would be just another Ragnar. I was prepared for the lack of sleep and the shenanigans. I had hydration under control thanks to the NUUN station at the start line. I had my new Skora Tempo and my Core…just in case. I had brought my biofreeze and compression socks and my DoTerra Blue Rub.
Most of all, I was so very excited to see my friends!
Ninjas, Ninjas, Ninjas!!!
I was not, however, ready for the elevation. Altitude is a real thing, people.
My Ragnar weekend started on Thursday with a 12 hour road trip to Salt Lake City, Utah from Riverside, CA with my fella and teammate, Ian. Yes, it took us 12 hours. Mostly because of the Electric Daisy Carnival happening in Las Vegas. Stop and go from Baker to Vegas surrounded by kids with drugs in 115 degree heat. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but we had a race to get to!
The 15 freeway is a really, really long freeway.
Once we got into Utah, though, the 80 mph speed limit sure brightened things up. All the ninjas had already gathered at our fearless leader, Eric’s, parent’s house, who so graciously let 13 runners take over their house. We didn’t arrive until around 2 am and our wake-up call (or rather violent shake) was scheduled for 4:30 am so that we could get to the start line in Logan, UT by our 8 am start time. And so it begins…
Ninjas at the Start!
Being in Van 2 has its advantages. Once we kicked off the start with Van 1, we were able to grab some food and prepare aka screw around before our actual legs, which didn’t start until around 1 pm. So we hit up the IHOP and ate all the pancakes, then followed some of the runners of Van 1 to check out their course.
Shattered glass at breakfast: bad omen or bad ass?
Ragnaring like a boss…in business casual attire complete with phone and belt clip.
Around this time we also learned that a fellow Ragnarian had collapsed on the course. A 46 year old man from Park City, Utah, Tyler “Ty” Rasch, collapsed and later passed away (more information here). While the cause of death is still unknown, this was frightening news. I didn’t train in the altitude or heat at all and here this guy, who was used to this climate, had just died during this race. It was a very sombering reality check. I take this race stuff for granted. My heart goes out to his family and friends, who were with him during this race and had to watch all this go down. Just terrible.
We met up with Van 1 at exchange 6. El Capitan Eric took over as runner 7 and our van headed out to kick some serious miles. Around this time the temperature was reaching into the 90’s and our elevation was up in the 5000’s. This sea level SoCal girl was definitely feeling the altitude.
When Vans Collide
The handoff! Go, Eric, go!
I was runner 8, the second runner in our van, which means I got to run and be done. Seriously, having to wait around to run when your van is “on” is torture. My first leg was 7.1 miles of what seems like perfectly nice, flat land.
Looks nice, right???
The first few miles felt like I was drowning. I could not get a hold of my breathing. Once I got into a nice steady breathing pattern, that’s when I realized I was melting. I could not drink enough water. I had my NUUN on hand but my Van had to stop twice to refill my bottle.
The rest of the van had very similar legs, with lots of heat, lots of hills and lots of miles. By the time we handed off to Van 2 for the night runs, we were desperate for rest. Luckily, Eric’s folks were close and we were able to get some food from an actual kitchen, take a shower and use a real toilet, and actually get a little rest in a real bed before our projected early, early morning runs.
The hills are alive! With red ants and selfies within selfies within selfies…
The second leg of our race started at 1 am and we had some pretty quick runs with elevations in the 6000’s and temps in the 50’s. My second leg was super short and super cold!
There wasn’t a mile marker on this run, though, so the only way I knew it was over, was the mile long back up of vans at the exchange. This race had about 1000 teams! That’s a lot of vans, man. I came into the exchange looking to hand off to Tim, but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I stood there about 10 minutes before we found each other. Turns out, he’d been standing out there the whole time. Doh! Things you miss at 2:30 am.
I was feeling pretty good after my run, so I took on the role of driver. The head honcho, Eric, needed to rest as he was gearing up for the gnarly run up Ragnar Hill in the morning. Traffic was pretty heavy at every exchange and by the time we arrived to handoff to Van 1, I was suffering from severe nap-jerks. Runner 12, Jana, came in around 7 am, and then it was time to fuel! We headed to this really cool diner that seriously had the best breakfast food I’ve ever had.
I’m not quite sure what happened after this. All I know is I was eating and then I was asleep and then it was time to run again. But first we had to support the big cheese, Eric, on this baby:
Yes, that is a 2000 ft. elevation gain over 10.3 miles in 90 degree heat on a few hours of sleep and after already completing 2 grueling legs. This is the shit that legends are made of.
Waiting to support Eric on this monster. That’s a ski lodge. A SKI LODGE!
I was up next, so I got to watch these runners come into the exchange after this run. It was the most inspiring thing. I was in awe after watching them grind up this mountain and then cry when they passed on to their next runner. Seriously, the most breathtaking view of the whole course was the determination and then elation on these runners faces. And they got a special medal!
Oh, Captain, my Captain
So Eric ran up this mountain, and it was up to me and Tim to run down. This was my last leg. The downhill was really freaking hard on my feet. I hadn’t had any issues at all thanks to my new Skora Tempo, ProCompression socks, biofreeze, and KT Tape (this is my recipe for success, btw), but on this leg, the back of the shoe starting cutting into my achilles and all I could think was PAIN. I also developed big huge blisters on my arches from this leg.
But the view was spectacular!
I was done! Time to relax and take some pictures. Here’s a wrap up of the rest of Van 2’s legs and bringing it home to the finish line. That’s probably the best thing about being Van 2…you’re done at the finish line.
Jana ran us into the Finish Line in Park City after about 30+ hours. Time to celebrate!
And the coolest bling in the race game! All 12 of our medals connect to form one super badass medal. Mine is the one that says “eries”.
Ragnar Wasatch Back was the very first race in the Ragnar series. It is definitely the most difficult Ragnar I’ve ever participated in. What an honor to be among these fine adventurers! I’ve been out of the Ragnar game for a year but the bug is back! I’m thinking Vegas? There’s a double medal series for Utah and Vegas…Saints and Sinners, anyone?