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As I was the slowest member of my team, this post won’t be tricks on how to train better (other than starting to train more than four weeks out, my bad). This post will, however, have little tips and tricks to survive your first RAGNAR and not die in the darkness on the trail and have some fun.
Just in case you stumbled on this site with no idea of what RAGNAR is, here’s a quick summary. RAGNAR is a relay running race that can last 24 hours with races happening all over the country. Each team member is assigned different legs of the race. Some road races can cover hundreds of miles with team members following the race along in a car. Other trail races are in one place with team members camping out while waiting their turn.
Should I Do RAGNAR?
Heck yes, if you want to. The hard part is you need a team and getting people to run miles in the middle of the night isn’t always easy. If you have the chance, go for it. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to build friendships. Some teams go to win and some go for the experience. I am a way slow runner (12-minute mile) and was the slowest on my team but I finished and had a blast doing it. Run distances and team size varies a bit from race to race. We had an eight-member team with each runner doing 15 miles apiece broken up over three separate runs. My longest run was 7.5 miles.
Crazy enough, the 3 am four-mile run I did was by far my favorite time in the race. There was something magical about running through the desert with only the few feet of sand lit in front of me.
What Do I Even Wear?
I know it’s technically one race but trust me, you’re going to need a change of clothes. We had about six hours between each leg and walking round in clothes I just ran up a mountain in was not ideal nor comfortable. Even if it’s just clean underwear and a top, it’s well worth it. Some brought PJs; some didn’t. I had a run at 3 am so I just slept in my running clothes.
Take extra shoes—especially if you’re trail running. You might be in deep sand or deep mud. I also took shoe gaiters, which wrap around the shoe and your ankle to prevent dirt from falling in a shoe. Try these out before you go. Mine rubbed me pretty raw.
What to Carry
For my run, I carried water (bring extra, both my belt and hydration vest broke), phone, buds, and sunglasses or a headlamp. I also slipped in a credit card so that immediately after my race, I could hit up the base area and buy massages, food, and other fun stuff.
I get dehydrated easily and filled at least one water bottle with Nuun or other electrolyte tablets on each leg. They were short enough legs that I didn’t need any sort of calorie replacement.
Get there early! We thought arriving the day before the race would be sufficient to get a campsite. It. Was. Not. We ended up camping up a hill a half-mile from the starting line in the sand. It was a little disheartening to know that when you finished your race, you had more miles to go. Not to mention, the walk to the bathrooms. (We had to haul all our gear in with a cart as cars weren’t allowed.)
This is why I carried a credit card with me so I didn’t have to add on another mile to my race to get a drink or some food.
Be sure to check your race’s location. While we could easily get into our race venue with a car, parking required a four-wheel drive.
For an outdoor adventure without ever having to get outside, check out the Lost Gorge Mystery series!
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