You know what’s fun? Cruising around in a van with five friends on Cape Cod, one of whom occasionally hops out to run. That’s the basic premise behind Ragnar Relays and I love them!
A few friends thought Ragnar Cape Cod sounded like fun. I was quick to sign up, having loved Hood to Coast. The camaraderie, running fun, and adventure makes an overnight relay totally worth the lack of sleep. We planned and organized, rented vans and a house, and, finally, Ragnar was upon us. I packed using my super awesome Hood to Coast packing list and was ready to run the (slightly cooler) Cape Cod relay. I headed up to our rental house on the Cape the night before and met my team. Though I sort of knew most of the runners, it was pretty much a friend-of-a-friend situation and I had signed up to spend two days in a van with total strangers. Luckily, they were awesome and we became fast friends. Friday morning dawned bright and early, with Van 1 heading up the to start at Hull, MA.
It was freezing! We’re talking 45 degrees, cloudy, and 40 mile and hour winds. We underwent our safety check, flag distribution, and safety briefing and it was time for our first runner to start. Everyone else loaded into the van and I drove us to Exchange 1. Excellent. Ragnar was underway. I had 7 miles (which turned out to be 6.4 – the Rag Mag gave an update of the course that didn’t totally match what was online) of “very hard” running ahead of me. It turned out to be an amazing day to run. I loved it. I cruised along at a decent, but conservative, clip and finished my miles in what seemed like no time. I was having a great time!
After my run, it was time to hop in the van and cruise around some more. There was singing along with the radio – our van had XM!
Generally, we had a good time and made it to the first major exchange upbeat, happy, and bonded in the way only strangers trapped in a van together can bond. We decided on a trip to a nearby mall and dinner for our first van break. I bought gardening gloves because my hands were freezing. A teammate got some new tights. We were suited up, hydrated, and ready for dinner. A quick stop at a chain restaurant and we were back on the road. My view was pretty much the same.
Run two was a night run, so headlamp and vest were required. I suited up and headed out on a run that made our local runner shake his head. Never a good sign. I asked if it was flat and he snorted an evil laugh. Apparently there was some massive hill in the middle of my 6 miles. I got running and the course started going up around mile 2. “This isn’t so bad”, I thought. And then, in the distance, I saw the headlights way, way above me. As I got closer, I heard the steady stream of vans shifting into a lower gear, struggling to get up the hill with the cargo of runners. Let’s just say it isn’t terribly encouraging to know that vans are struggling to get up a hill you’re about to run. In the dark. I think the darkness might have helped. I couldn’t see how high or steep the hill was, only the tiny patch in front of me, so I put my head down and pushed up the hill. I passed a lot of people. Seeing their little blinking lights ahead was highly motivating and I cruised along into a town. After a quick run past some office buildings, my second run was done. Hooray! Time to sleep! Our van decided to head back to the house and sleep in our own (rental) beds and shower. It was a great idea. I plopped down in bed and was asleep right away. I got a whole hour of sleep. Actual, in-a-bed sleep. Then I woke up, took a hot shower, ate an apple, and got back in the van, ready to run.
My last run was supposed to be 5 miles, moderate. I was sore, but not terribly sore, so I trotted along and tried to focus on the rising sun. It was kind of pretty – being in the middle of nowhere and listening to the birds. I came up over a hill, and there was the exchange, 2 miles too early. My first thought was that I had blacked out. No. Not the case. My second thought was that I would just run through. There was no way my team would be there since I was only 20-something minutes into a much longer run. Imagine my surprise when I came up and found my teammate not only there, but ready and excited to run the extra two miles (making his leg 9!) that were added due to the change in exchange. I still don’t know why the exchange was moved, and I was a little sad I didn’t get my full mileage. Now that I’ve just written that I’m thinking – what a weirdo. I was sad to be shorted 2 miles in an overnight relay. I wanted to run more. Clearly I’m a crazy lady. Anyhow, I was overjoyed to be done.
My team made a morning stop at the most amazing French bakery ever. We had what I refer to as the French Food Orgy. We were all so hungry, and so tired, we ate pastry like animals. It was amazing. Before we knew it, it was time to head to the finish line at Provincetown and climb the memorial to the pilgrims. It was a gorgeous day, a well-organized course, and an overall fun adventure. I had an amazing time, met great new friends, and ran a little. If you have 11 friends, two vans, and a weekend, run a Ragnar. It’s an amazing experience!