This is the third and final part of my Ragnar Trail Relay race recap. If you missed part two, you can find that HERE. And if you need to start at the beginning, part 1 is HERE. When I last left off, Deb and I were hanging out in our team campsite post-leg 2. It was dawning on all of us that we were not on track to finish by the 6 PM deadline. We knew at 6 PM the event would end and all teams would have to stop if they were not done. We had to do some problem solving to figure out how to match up legs on an ultra team. It’s a bit complicated to explain without a diagram, but it’s much easier for a regular team to “double up” to ensure everyone is running the correct loops in the correct sequence than it was for ultra teams. But we got it figured out and with the blessing of the Ragnar officials (who basically said “I don’t care what you do. You ultra teams are a pain and I’m glad you figured things out so we don’t have to.”) we had a plan in place.
The solution involved Deb and me having to run the first loop of our last leg with runners 1 (during their second loop) on our respective teams, and then our second loop with runners 2 (during their first loop). Runners 4 did the same thing, joining up with runners 2 and then running their final loop solo. I told you it was complicated, but it worked. 🙂 Around 11 AM we headed down to catch runners 1 on their way through the transition tent. They didn’t know about our solution and weren’t going to be expecting us.
Leg 3 – 11:15 AM Saturday morning
Red Loop (5.7 miles), Green Loop (4.6 miles)
Total advertised distance: 10.3 miles
Total actual distance: 10.5 miles
As runners 1 came through the transition area after their first loop, they were very surprised to find Debbie and me waiting for them. I explained what was going on and then the four of us headed out together. I’ll be honest – I had the most fun on this final leg. I was exhausted and sore and ready to be done, but having a larger group to run with was fun. Plus, running is the best way to get to know people.
Early on we got to see my Dad and Robin and Barry again. It was a surprise to see them and it gave me a boost. They heckled us for walking up a hill, but none of us cared. 🙂
The red loop didn’t seem so bad this time. It felt pretty long in the dark during our first leg, but it was definitely quicker in the daylight. We actually finished over 10 minutes faster than the first time, despite taking the time to pose for pictures.
Angela and Jenny (runners 1) were getting more excited as we ran on because their Ragnar was coming to an end. Even though Deb and I still had the green loop to do, I was feeling excited as well. It gave me a big boost to celebrate the end of their run with them. With less than a mile to go, we ran by our support crew again.
We came into transition, dropped off Angela and Jenny, and picked up Amanda and Kim (runners 2). We were headed back out, all excited to get going, when a Ragnar official started yelling at us. Ironically, he was the one who had OK’ed our plan of doubling up. He started yelling at us about having just disqualified our team by doubling up. I was so confused. The six of us descended on him to figure things out. He was frustrated and angry that Deb and I had not checked in before beginning our loop so there would be an official record of what time we started (and so they could calculate our official finishing time). He said we would still receive finisher’s medals, but would not be recognized as official finishers or be up for any awards. He was being very dramatic. All he really needed to make things official was the time that Deb and I had started running. We had that proof on our watches, of course, and we provided him with the information he needed. Once we got things worked out and he was satisfied, we were able to head out. I know he was dealing with a lot and was really stressed because a lot of teams were having to double up (this was the first year for the event, and they were pretty off assigning start times), but I wish he hadn’t been so hateful. As our team headed out to run, I thanked him for his patience and he just looked at me and said okay. At least I tried…
After all of the drama, Deb, Amanda, Kim, and I were happily on our way. Deb’s husband, Bill, was hanging out close to the start acting as official team photographer. He’s an incredible photographer and he got some great photos!
Debbie and I were especially excited to be heading out for the green loop. We were nearly 30 miles in for the weekend, and only had about 5 miles to go on our journey!
We began working our way through the green loop, and were surprised to see my Dad and Robin again. They assured us they were not stalking us and just happened to be out on a walk 🙂
I was feeling a bit impatient during this run, but stayed focused on moving forward. For awhile, our group had a fun train going with an additional fifth member on the back (John? Adam? I can’t remember!!). It felt like we were all helping push each other, and it was fun running in a long line. I was leading, which I was a bit worried about, but everyone seemed fine with the pace I was setting.
We kept chugging along, and finally arrived at the mountain bike mogul things. They were so steep and I actually used my hands to help scramble up the first one. At the top of the third one, we arrived at the coveted ‘one more mile’ sign. My legs were so done and I lost my balance and actually fell off of the trail. I was fine, just a little embarrassed. 😉
At last, we reached the final stretch. Such sweet relief! As we approached the finish line, Debbie said she might cry. As it turned out, she did not… but I did. It only lasted about 10 seconds, but it was a first. This event was so hard at times, and the miles were so drawn out (about 20 hours between when we began our first leg and when we crossed the finish line for the final time). But now we were DONE!
We got changed and started getting packed up. Then, Debbie and I headed down to the Ragnar gear tent to do some shopping. On the way back, we stopped at the one remaining food truck and got some of the best mac and cheese I have ever eaten. I was starving!! It was some kind of pepper jack mac and cheese, with a side of avocado (an awesome suggestion from one of our MRTT teammates). Best thing I have ever eaten.
About two hours later (I really have no idea on this… I had lost all sense of time by this point), it was time to head down to transition area. Our final two runners were due in soon, and our two ultra teams would be joining in behind them to run to the finish. The anticipation was building and finally we saw them headed down the final hill and into the finish chute. We joined in behind them and all crossed the finish line as a team.
After that, we collected our finisher’s medals and got our official team photo. There were hugs, congratulations, and then a flurry of packing up and saying goodbye. A whirlwind end to a whirlwind weekend.
Going into this, I wondered if it would be easier or harder covering roughly the same distance of my 50K spread out. I sincerely believe it was harder. It’s easier to just keep going. Spreading it out and combining it with no sleep made it tough. But we had such an incredible group and that made this such a positive experience. Plus, I can’t help but feel a bit like a badass with our accomplishment. It was a lot of running, and there were times I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I did. We all did. And it was epic.
Have you ever cried at the finish line?
What’s the best thing you have ever eaten after a race or tough workout?