It’s SPRING! I’m so happy that the weather is nice some of the time. And I started my summer travel schedule. For my first trip, I left during a string of Perfect PNW sunny days, and went to Texas to enjoy overcast humid mornings that turned into hot sunny days that turned into hot rainy steamy evenings. I honestly forgot how quickly the weather changes in Texas. And I forgot just how much I sweat when it is humid outside. YIKES. Another thing I had forgotten in a short 2 years was to look out for fire ants – ouch.
I was in Texas running the Fredericksburg to Austin Ragnar Road Relay. This is a crazy race where you gather 12 runners together, and have them run a relay race for 25-36 hours across 200ish miles of (hopefully) scenic backroads. The way this works is each runner will run 3 “legs” of the race. You will make 36 exchanges between your team mates. If you are runner 1, you run leg #1, #13, and #25 (and so on). Each split of 6 legs is assigned to a van, so Van 1 runs legs #1-#6, Van 2 runs legs #7 – #12 (and then repeats 2 more times). Usually each split of 6 legs is 25-30 miles in length, so expect your Van to be out on the course making exchanges for about 4-5 hours. And then your van will be off the course for 4-5 hours while the other van is running. Each van utilizes the “downtime” to travel to the next van exchange (25-30 miles away), clean up, eat, and sleep. If you can’t sleep in a van with a bunch of strangers, you end this race sore from running and tired from sleep deprivation.
Sounds crazy, and you are wondering why anyone would recommend one of these races. Well, we had fun. I can see how it all could have gone horribly wrong, however we definitely had fun. I would consider another one, but it would be hard to duplicate our awesome team. Our Team Captains, Kerry and Lisa, put so much work, thought, and planning into the race that it was easy for us “runners” to just have a great time. I don’t know if I’d do another race without them! We had a great van of people – even though none of us really knew one another before the race- we all had a blast. We also had an awesome driver, Dave. Although, we did finally get him to ditch the Metallica and Motely Crue music! He was upbeat, he operates on very little sleep, and he was a very safe driver. He drove the entire time, with Lisa navigating. Because of the route, we were able to take 2 of our breaks at 2 different teammate’s homes. I have to say a big thank you to Jennifer and Lisa. Otherwise we would have been napping on a gym floor and taking cold showers!
So what did I love? Our first legs traversed back roads in the Hill country around Fredericksburg. We ran on bridges over bubbling streams and around curves of roads dotted with wildflowers. Our second legs started through the neighborhoods of San Antonio, but we were leaving the city when I ran on the country roads at dusk, with lighting bugs dancing in the weeds. And finally, on my third leg, I finished just as it was getting light and although the scenery was a freeway, the feeling of accomplishment was terrific. And then there are all the crazy details: van decorations, costumes, food and snacks, getting lost, inside jokes, and a load of others. I could tell all, but what happens on the race stays on the course!
There are also some downsides. Time and Money are the 2 big downsides that would come into play should I consider another race. I like to make sure I train for races, and any race means you need to set aside time to train. Plus I needed to block off time to travel for this race. These races are not cheap. I did not calculate all of the costs, but on top of the race fee, there is a fee if you can’t get 3 people to volunteer, plus you need to cover your travel, your food, your required safety gear, your portion of the Van rental and gas consumption, and your portion of hotel fees if you don’t have places to stop along the route.
We also did not get to spend a lot of time with the other half of the team. There was very little crossover time with Van 2, and that was kind of a bummer.
The downsides seem insignificant, but they will play a large part of my decision to run another relay. Our team is already thinking about running this next year, or a relay like this in Texas. So ask me next year if my memories are still fond and if I committed to the team!