It is hard to put into words, but I thought it would be good to share the story of some local runners who had an unforgettable experience doing the 1st Ragnar Relay to be held in Tennessee recently. We are a group of average runners who have done our fair share of 5K, Crazy 8, Eastman 10K, Half Marathon, and even a few marathons. Eric Smith, Larry Luber, Dave Johnson, Mark Wininger, Kevin Barham, and myself usually meet early on Saturday mornings to do our "long runs" while training for whatever race is out there on the horizon. We decided to do the Ragnar Relay as it was different and something each of us had never done before (guess we gotta have that challenge out there).
First a little history about the race. Ragnar was a 9th century Norse King, pirate, raider, explorer, and generally just a wild dude! Who better to name this crazy run after? The Ragnar Relay started in Utah a few years ago and has spread across the country as it has became very popular. Anyway the Tennessee relay is 195.5 miles (yes, that is 195.5 miles) that starts in Chattanooga and finishes in Nashville. The race route starts in the hills of Chattanooga, heads to the stills of Lynchburg, then honky tonks its way to the country music capital of Nashville. There were approximately 160 teams made up of 6-12 runners each who did this crazy race. Ours was considered an ultra team as we only had 6 runners and each of us ran more that 26.2 miles total. I think there were about 15 ultra teams out there. At any given time a runner from each team is doing their thing while the rest of the team is riding to the next exchange. Our team name was the "7 Deadly Sins" (Plantar Fascitis, IT Band, Blisters, Achilles, etc). There were some crazy team names out there for sure. A couple of my favorites were the "Bast Fastards" and "What, I thought this was a 5K".
The morning of Nov 5 at 7:00am in Chattanooga, our team captain Eric ran our first leg of about 14 miles. He handed off to Larry next and he did his section. The legs all varied in length and time and each of us had to run 3 times. The fun part was riding in our support vehicle in between runs. Since we were an ultra team, it could be 8-10 hours between each of our runs. My first run was about 5:00pm on Friday, second run was at 2:30 am Saturday morning, and my final run was about 1:30pm Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, Mary Smith and Teresa Luber were invaluable as our drivers, cheerleaders, and overall sanity keepers. As a team we finished in a total time of 33 hours and 27 minutes. We definitely were not at the top of the leader board, but this race is more about the experience and camaraderie of your teammates.
The neat thing about Ragnar is that anyone can do it from the serious runner to the novice jogger. The great majority were 12 person teams who all ran 3 legs each of anywhere from 3 to 8 miles. Our legs were roughly twice that long since we were an ultra team ( I questioned this strategy at 3:00am and it was 28 degrees). The challenging part definitely was the weather for us. If you remember that weekend was the weekend it got very cold. We got cold and rained, sleeted, and snowed on but it all made for a better story at the end of the day. If any runners out there are looking for something different and are tired of the standard races then look no farther than the Ragnar Relay. The Ragnar motto is "Run, Drive, Sleep, Repeat?". Also where else can you get a medal that doubles as a bottle opener?.