Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ragnar - Northwest Passage, July 23 & 24

I figure I should finally post a race report, at least before next year's Ragnar!

In today's vernacular, the word "epic" is overused…in my opinion, anyway. But in describing my experience at Ragnar last Friday and Saturday, it would be my word of choice.

I'm going to post my (not terribly impressive) personal stats first, to get that out of the way, because this event was so much more about the team experience than our individual performances. Out of the 36 total legs, I ran legs 10, 22 and 34. Originally, I was scheduled to lead off with leg 1 (and run 13 and 25 after that), but due to my heel and subsequent lack of fitness, our captain (Lars) cut me some slack and gave me the shortest legs. According to my Garmin, they were 3.17 miles, 4.22 miles, and 4.16 miles. Here are the results:

Leg 10 - 3.17 mi (10:20pm) 22:05 (6:59 pace) 0 kills (but set up our first kill). Flat and straight.
Leg 22 - 4.22 mi (5:23am) 30:52 (7:19 pace) 2 kills. Some hills.
Leg 34 - 4.16 mi (12:45pm) 32:35 (7:50 pace) 6 kills. VERY hilly.

As you can see, my paces deteriorated pretty significantly - partially due to ZERO sleep and buildup of fatigue, partially due to the hills, and partially (okay, significantly) due to being a bit out of shape. The heat also came into play during the third leg. My average heart rate slowed somewhat from leg to leg. But even if the heart was willing, the legs weren't. By the start of the third leg, I knew I was about out of gas. My heel held up great during the first two legs, but started barking at me pretty noticeably during the third.

The Northwest Passage edition of Ragnar consisted of 187 pretty hilly miles, from Blaine, WA to Langley, WA. Our team consisted of 12 men, split into two vans (6 guys each); each man running their leg, then rotating through both vans in a set order. Our ages varied from late 20's to mid 40's.

If you're familiar with Ragnar (or other long relay events), you know what a "kill" is. It signifies passing a runner from another team. Several weeks prior to the race, each team had to submit an anticipated average pace for all of their runners. Our estimate put us in the last (fastest) group (Friday, 4pm start time). The slowest groups started at 7am. There were 4 other teams that started with us. Needless to say, they were impressive. We spent the first several hours in last place before we finally started picking off other runners in the middle of the night.

I could write a book about all the stories, both funny and inspirational, that took place during the race, but I'll refrain. It was an amazing and well-organized event, and it was great to have the opportunity not only to run it, but to hang out with a bunch of great guys and get to know them better. I'm currently working on a video, and accompanying original song, that will hopefully do justice to the experience. I will, however, give shout-outs to my brothers-in-vans by listing their names: (Van 1) Gus, Tony, Lars, Brian, Josh, Mike M., (Van 2) Mike T., Cris C., Dave, Me, Kris A., Garrett. We had some tough and speedy guys on our team! Overall, we finished 5th out of 208 teams, and 2nd out of 21 in the Open Men's division, both of which surprised us. Our total time was 22:16:14 (7:04 avg pace, by my calculation). Not bad for a bunch of guys who meet at a coffee shop every Saturday morning to run a few miles together.

As tough a time as I had, and even with a night of ZERO sleep, I would still do this again. Hopefully we can pull the same guys together next year and do even better…but more importantly, share another really cool experience.

And maybe I'll even be in shape next time!


  1. Man that sounds fun. Let me know if someone drops out next year - I promise to bring nice So Cal weather.

  2. These events are always fun and great experiences. It is just nice to do things like this with other runners. You guys did awesome. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

  3. Gosh, I've wanted to run one of these for a LONG time...and your race report only added fuel to the fire. I'm mostly in it for the sleep deprivation and the rank smells involved.

    BTW - I'm not sure how or why, but this is the third time I've read this report and I've yet to leave a comment.

  4. You definitely need to run one! It reminded me of my cross-country days in high school. The camaraderie was a blast. Although, I didn't realize how odiferous I was until I got home and sat in front of my computer for a few minutes before taking a shower. Holy cow!