Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ragnar Trail WV Recap: Part 1

This past weekend was the Ragnar Trail Relay in West Virginia.  I knew it would be fun...I was pretty sure it would be fun, but I had a few concerns.

I don't like nature.

That's not totally true.  I like nature as long as it doesn't touch me.  I had a feeling that I would be assaulted by nature this weekend.  Plants...bugs...with a possibility of spider webs...and bears.  Hold me.

Porta potties.

I hate them.  "Normal" runners see porta potties as some kind of oasis.  Not this girl.  I gag and have to pull my shirt over my face so I can breathe my own stink instead of fecal fumes.  I'm most certainly not a "normal" runner.

Clearly this trail running relay was not my idea.  After our road Ragnar in 2012, my friend, Andrea, said she wanted to try a trail Ragnar.

Sure...why not?  (insert nervous giggle here)

Our team left comfy, familiar Columbus, Ohio on Thursday afternoon and headed toward bear-infested Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.

We arrived at the campground as it was getting dark and we rushed to set up the tents before we lost all of the daylight.  We spent the rest of the evening sitting around a lantern (because we weren't allowed to have individual campfires) eating junk food.  We all went to bed around midnight loaded up with sugar and excitement for our runs the next day.

Our three legs at Ragnar Trail WV: Green Loop, Yellow Loop and Red Loop.
Photo from the RagnarTrailWV website.
Our team start time was 10:30am on Friday. Since we were up with the sun...

Side note: room darkening, sound-proof tents would be great.

...we did some exploring in the Ragnar Village...not to mention a little shopping in the Ragnar store.

Team Dolls and Balls
Photo owned by Kate.

Finally, 10:30am rolled around.

Stuart was our first runner.  I was second.  I had a little self-talk.
          Nature will touch you.  
          This is not your biggest problem.  
          Watch out for bears.  
          Good chat.

Friday, 11:12am.  Go time.  My first leg was the Yellow loop.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  When I got into the woods, the trail ran through ferns.  Some as high as my shoulders.  They touched me and I whined a little, but there was so much to look at and "ooh" and "aah" over, there was minimal whining.

The ground was so soft and cushy.
I made a friend in the woods.  Those who know me in person are not surprised by this.  She was ahead of me but running backward thinking that she missed a turn somewhere.  My new friend, Teresa, and I ran together from that point on.  I stopped to take a picture when we got into the pine trees and she told me that she was glad I did.  Otherwise she wouldn't have even noticed the beauty around her.

Teresa and I chatted as we ran through the woods toward the village.  There were hills and lots of rocks to avoid tripping over.  It was a grand adventure.

Just before we entered the village, we had to run up a steep ramp, across a narrow bridge and down a steep ramp on the other side.  Ragnar is so kind to our legs. (sarcasm)

Teresa and I running down the ramp after crossing the bridge.
Photo taken and owned by Stuart.

Another teammate, Josh, was standing near the bottom of the ramp and caught me crossing the finish line.

Photo owned by Josh.
 Who knew I'd come out of the woods smiling?

"That was so fun!" I told Sarah, our runner #3, as I handed her our team race bib.

As I said them, I couldn't believe they were coming out of my mouth.  And that I meant them.

The Yellow loop was so. much. fun.

I high-fived Teresa, thanked her for the company and we took a selfie.  (Of course we did.)

Leg 1: Yellow Loop
4.6 miles

I knew we had a couple of hours before Sarah finished with the Red loop so I walked to our campsite to change my clothes, have a snack and relax for a while.

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking back and forth between our tent and the Village watching and cheering for our runners finishing and cheering while sending our next runners into the woods.

After Sarah, it was Kate's turn, then Andrea's.  While we waited for Andrea to return, the sky grew dark.  The Ragnar announcer came over the speakers warning that heavy rain was a threat.  The wind started to blow and huge raindrops started to fall just before Andrea came across the bridge.  Terri took off for the woods and the rest of us made it to the dining tent right before the sky let loose.  Terri couldn't have been more than half of a mile away when the thunder and lightning started.

Tory, Stuart, Josh and Kerri ran to our campsite to close up the tent windows and put all of our stuff under the EZ Up to attempt to keep it dry while Kate, Andrea, Sarah and I waited in the dining tent near the finish line.  We assumed that Terri would be sent back because of lightning.  It soon became clear that was an incorrect assumption.

The wind was blowing.  It was raining sideways.  Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled.  It was scary.  We were all worried about Terri in the woods.  We told ourselves that she was probably safer there, sheltered by the trees, than we were in the tent.

Two hours later, Terri emerged from the woods soaking wet and smiling.  Luckily, the weather didn't seem near as severe in the woods as it was for us.

By then, we'd been put on a 2 hour lightning hold so our next two runners, Josh and Kerri would have to skip their legs and Stuart wasn't allowed to run until 8pm.  It was dinner time and kind of nice that we all got to eat together.

This is a good place to stop.  I'll finish up our Ragnar adventure later this week.

Have you ever run a Ragnar Relay?  Road or trails?  I've now done both.  I like different things about each and I'd do either again.  In a heartbeat.
Who's with me?  (insert eyebrow waggle)