Yep, took me forever to write about this super fun experience, don’t know why. This is a race I had wanted to do for a long time, when a spot opened up on one of Amy’s co-worker’s team I jumped at the chance. I was a little skeptical about not knowing the people I would be trapped in a vehicle with for 30 hours or so, but the group could not have been better! All five other people were totally cool and fun to be around, being up all night in a truck with a whiner would suck so this was very important!
Ragnar del Sol Relay is a 12 person relay race from Wickenburg, Az to Tempe, Az. You are divided into 2 vehicles of 6 people, as the “on” vehicle each runner completes their leg and passes the baton (wristband) to the next runner at the exchange. The major exchanges (where one van takes over from the previous one) are quite big and have a lot of cool energy!
We met up at Tempe Marketplace about 4:30 am and loaded up for the trek to Wickenburg. We had to put some of the bags on top of our vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe. The limited access to our bags was about the only negative of the whole experience. During the early morning drive we talked and got to know each other, all 3 guys were Ironman finishers and all 3 girls were Crossfit buffs, seemed like we had a pretty solid van. After getting to the start area we went through the safety briefings and waited to start, trying to stay warm.
The Start Line:
The first leg was pretty tough, 9 hilly miles first thing in the morning! Our first runner, Crysti banged it out like a champ. After that we were rolling along with our runners, stopping every mile or so to cheer and support them! We’d throw the frisbee and ring the cow bell to pass the time. Cow bells are popular motivators at many races, one guy that ran past our cow belling had a perfect Christopher Walken impression!
At the runner exchanges we’d get our next runner ready and talk to the other teams while we waited. It’s fun to see how creative people were with their team name/themes. Also, on our first legs we saw 3 guys doing the race by themselves! I ran about 16 miles totally, each of these guys ran around 65-70 miles!
A random exchange:
As a safety precaution you have to wear a reflective vest between 5pm-9am, the runner must have headlamp and red butt lamp as well. When it’s dark people bust out glow sticks and all kinds of lighted vehicle decorations, makes for a pretty cool scene. I totally understand and support the reason for the vest and headlamp, but the 9am time seemed a little too long (it had been light for and hour and a half at that point). Here’s me sporting mine the first morning:
Here’s a few pics of my first running leg, started to get a little warm. Overall it was a nice, easy first leg for me.
After our first legs we grabbed some food and chilled out in a park for a while. We all took a nap in the grass and then had a pretty solid frisbee session. Our other van had to deal with a few injuries and some heat, so they came in a little later than planned. After a some hanging out at the major exchange, our van was back on the road. I think our night runs were all our favorite. I had a cool leg, running from about 1am to 2 am. The leg went along New River Road and into Anthem, felt great running and finished strong!
After finishing our second legs, we got to crash out for a few hours in a motel room in Cave Creek that our team had rented. It was awesome to not be trying to sleep in a truck! We all crashed out in the room for about 3 hours until we had get back at it. The next major exchange was at the Boulders Resort, fortunately right down the street from our motel! Ours last legs seemed to be our most challenging, but were very beautiful. My final leg went from McDowell Mountain Park into Fountain Hills. The last hill into Fountain Hills was tough, but it was a great way to finish the race!
Jason, Me, Candie, and Melissa after our van’s last running leg. Time to head to Four Peaks for beers!
Amy came to meet us at Four Peaks for some food and drinks, after that Amy and I headed home to hang out. She had a week long work trip coming up and we wanted to spend some time together. I’m bummed I didn’t get to cross the finish line with my team, but I do love hanging out with the wife! Amy’s co-worker Candie was nice enough to pick up my medal (which seems to be a beer opener as well):