Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ragnar Relay Colorado Race Report (2017) aka Never Too Old!

It's 2:00 a.m and I once again ask myself, why the fuck do I do this?

I am 50 years old. I should be in my warm bed, not shivering in my sleeping bag in the middle of a baseball field in Somewhere, Colorado. I've run over 17 miles of mountains earlier and I'm not done yet.

But, see, that's the point! I (we) do these things because they take us out of our warm and safe beds and into the wildness of the world around us. That's exactly why I do all of these crazy races and adventures. It forces me to the side of discomfort, which means it forces me into growth. It prevents complacency and boredom. It rocks your little world - chews you up and spits you out and leaves you yearning for more (or, maybe it's just me?)

The Colorado Ragnar Relay on August 25/26 was my seventh relay. My first was accidental, back in 2009, before I even knew what a relay was. I won a contest and was rewarded (<that's subjective) with a spot on a fast-as-shit Hood to Coast Team, where I certainly did not belong in terms of running experience and skill. I was tentative to go it alone, so they also welcomed Ken onto the team.

Ken and I were by far the slowest. We never changed our clothes over the 21 hours. We smelled and looked disheveled. I cried a couple of times and we felt completely out of our element. And, it was awesome. You can read those race reports HERE and HERE (yes, I've been blogging that long).

We came in 8th in 21:47.
The infamous Mt. Hood

Fast forward to today. Over time, we've found a group of like minded friends who like to do this shit. If you really want to love or hate someone, spend 30 hours in a van with them. This group is like none other, and I adore them, sweaty balls and all.

From 2014 - Grand Tetons

In case you don't know how a running relay works - typically, you have 12 participants, 6 in each van. You take turns running and everyone has three different legs they run. Relays are usually about 200 miles long and take anywhere from 21 to 35 hours depending on the runners and the course.

We only had 10 runners instead of 12, so some of us took extra legs. I had four legs - my first one was at about 10 a.m. and was 10.4 miles. It was labeled as VERY HARD and I would agree with that given the distance, the elevation (10,000 feet) and the climbing (1,100 feet).

At mile 5 I almost crapped my pant and there was nowhere to hide. Somehow I controlled my colon and things stayed in tact. Thank you Jesus. After running up a mountain, I cruised along beautiful Lake Dillon and stopped to take some shots (pictures, not Fireball or tequila, although that would have been nice).

The run took me 1:40 - a 9:36 average pace.

After our van finished the first 6 legs, we drove to Edwards, CO, where we rested for about 5 hours until it was our turn to run again. By rested I mean drank a beer and took pictures of Ken and myself.

Don't be jealous of my pillow case. Or, my neck

Our van was on the move again at about 10 p.m, so we all ran in the dark with headlamps and safety vests. My run was 6 miles at 1:00 a.m. I forget how much I love to run in the dark with the cool air and peacefulness (except for all of those cars coming at me - could do without them).

We rested again in a baseball field from 2:00 a.m. until 4:00 a.m. when it was time to run again. These were some of the most beautiful runs of the race as they were on more remote roads and the sun began to rise.

I promise you that coffee NEVER tastes as good as it does during a relay
Right before Ken's run, we got this text. Always comforting.

My last run was two legs combined for a total of 7 miles. Basically I was running on (fart) fumes by this time and pretty exhausted. We all were. We then headed to Snowmass to wait for Van #2 at the finish line.

So, obviously we are a coed team and old-ish. Usually we will notice other masters teams (masters means all are 40+ years old) participating. But this year we were one of six masters teams. And we came in 1st in this category with a finish time of 31 hours. GO in shape, geriatric, menopausal, ED people!

Then the drinking and storytelling started - the best part of the whole thing, IMHO.

My advice to you - be sure doing a relay is on your bucket list. These days you can pretty much choose a destination (Napa, Rocky Mountains, Cape Cod, Hawaii, etc) and there is a relay waiting for you. You will hate moments of it, but you will love most of it, trust me.

Ever run a relay before? Which one? Love or hate?



  1. Looked for you and never saw you! Congrats on the win! I love Ragnar...this year was great!

  2. If I joined a relay team of other runners like me, we would need to look for a relay race where the primary timing equipment is a calendar.

    1. Hey, I could be on that team, know, in case you were looking for another 'enjoying the scenery', 'what's the rush' kind of runner :)

  3. I've never done a relay but i've got one that I want to do. It's in Door County Wisconsin, you know, my favorite place in the US. It's a 50 mile relay and you can divide it up anyway you want. My idea would be to do it with 5 runners. Lest you think this is a wimpy distance, it is incredibly hilly up there. I think it would be fun and it wouldn't involve any overnight runs. I get really crabby without sleep and now that I have RA, I'm using that as an excuse. Whatever works, right? Some people run the whole 50 miles themselves. The relay sells out almost immediately--it takes place in the fall. Interested?

    1. Sounds like a blast!! I'm going to look it up.

    2. Registration is April 1. Lodging will be provided by me!

    3. Well okay, then. Where would someone like me fly into?

  4. I'm intrigued by a relay. Although, since I'm a masters master (over 60 -why does the masters level top out at 40 in most races? Seems a bit unfair for us olders) slow as ya go, kinda runner, I wouldn't want to let my team down with record breaking slowness.
    PS: What earphones do like for your runs?

    1. It really is matter what age! I use a bluetooth headphone that syncs with my watch. The watch is the TomTom Spark cardio and stores all the music. The headphones also came from TomTom.

  5. I've done the Niagara Ragnar (Canada, ends at the falls) and the Peak to Brew Relay in the Adirondack Mountains (New York State-Run begins at the top of Whiteface Mtn and ends at the Saranac Brewery in Utica; around 237 miles). Peak to Brew was much harder (and more fun, maybe because of that), and I loved it. Unfortunately, they have changed their format, and I believe lessened the distance (we ran it the first year); we all had four legs, but now van 2 has only three legs while van 1 has four. There were some monster stretches (10-12.5 miles of crazy hills-one leg was labeled the Honey Badger), bears were sighted, and it's in mid-August. We got lucky and it was 90+ degrees with high humidity all weekend. Also got lucky in that the hotel we stayed in Thursday night had no air conditioning and it was over 70 degrees all night. And there was that guy who smoked a cigarette outside my open window once every hour overnight. So, we all went into day one with no sleep at all. I'd totally do it again! :)

  6. Great work!! Having done Ragnars Miami-Key West and Tennessee, I can say it is an awesome LOVE-semiHATE experience!! If you ever need a 50+ flatlander to really slow things down so you can savor the wonderment and van fragrance longer, I'm your woman.

  7. Fun! I've done Market to Market in Iowa twice. It's 70ish miles. First year we had 6 runners and I think got 3rd for an all woman team? Second year was a slightly different mix of us and my hubby was the token male. I've since moved to Georgia - I think there is a trail Ragnar somewhere down here....and I have checked out the FL one too. Just got to round up some peeps now!

  8. That sound very cool. Thanks for sharing. It is now on my bucket list. Running a relay for a marathon next week. Nervous and excited.

  9. That race looks fun! I have been captain of a Bourbon Chase ( team since it started in 2009. How can you go wrong with bourbon and running? It's a fun race but I'd like to try another relay. I'm following these suggestions!

  10. I did a relay way back in 1999...? It was called 'The Relay", from Calistoga to Santa Cruz, CA. 200 miles, 36 legs, 2 vans of 6 runners, everyone ran 3 legs. I think Dean Karnazes (sp), ran the whole thing solo. Anyhoo, it was so painful, not the good kind of pain either. I was one and done with the relay thing. I'm glad you found something you and Ken enjoy doing. I found out I like my solitude and am now a trail runner 100%. Just say no to the relay ;)

  11. I love Ragnar! I've run Ragnar Great River twice and Ragnar Trail Northwoods. The first year I ran Great River, I didn't know my teammates, other than meeting them once at a pre-race meeting. I ended up becoming good friends with most of them and we've run subsequent Ragnars together. My hubby thought I was a little nuts when I asked him if I could "live in a van with strangers for a weekend." It was definitely outside my comfort zone at the time, but it ended up being one of the best experiences.

  12. I've done H2C four times and this year I almost cried with joy when I had a conflict and couldn't do it. So kudos to you for making this a tradition that you keep on doing.

  13. I'm 43 meaning that I'm a master! hahaha You guys looks like you had a lot of fun, congrats on the race and the time though I have the feeling you participated for the kick of it! Cheers, Vic

  14. You are quickly turning into my hero! You have some awesome choices of words! :D

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