Five years ago I received a postcard in the mail for this crazy sounding running relay where you join a team, spend lots of hours in a van with sweaty runners, get next to no sleep, and cover nearly 200 miles. My reaction at the time was thanks, but no thanks.
Fast forward to spring of 2010. My husband and I were convinced we had to do this race. The series of events that led to such an about face in my attitude is a long story. I won't cover that here. We started trying to find people we knew who'd be crazy enough to join us in this ludicrous endeavor. We found lots of people who would initially show some interest, then kind of back off the more they thought about it, then pretty much fade away completely when it was time to commit and put down the money. I decided 2010 was not our year, it was time to give up and maybe try again next year. My husband, on the other hand, began searching Ragnar's website for teams looking for runners.
Enter Jeni and Cristy. They had posted that they were interested in putting together a team, and for some reason their post caught Chris' eye. I cannot begin to tell you how uncertain I was about this. Committing to doing something like this with strangers just seemed to have bad idea written all over it. Long story short, lots of emails were exchanged, Chris and I both joined Dailymile; and within a few days we had a team put together and were actually registered for Ragnar 2010. Chris and I paid the registration fee for the team, strangers sent us checks for $85 a piece (i.e. committed), and we had ourselves a team.
The initial team consisted of four knowns: Chris, me, Joe K. (co-worker of Chris'), and PJ E. (who we knew through the YMCA). Filling out the roster were the the relatively unknowns: Jeni H., Cristy D., Emily B., Anna T., Zach J., Don F., Kelli R., and Eric H. Those of us that were able to gathered on our back patio on May 16th for an initial meet-up. I think it's safe to say that at this point we were simultaneously excited and terrified.
In early July Joe had to back out due to injury. While we were sad to see Joe go, we were beyond excited to have Chris R. join the team. The primary reason for excitement surrounding this change was that Chris had two years of Ragnar experience. I am sure that we would've survived without Chris, but I kind of wonder how. His knowledge, his pace charts, and his calm and steady demeanor were an incredible addition to this team.
Our second team meeting was July 26th. This mainly consisted of a little more getting to know one another, and a lot of words of wisdom from our Obi-Wan, young Ragnar Jedi Chris (I stole that description off of his dailymile page). Again, I think we all left the meeting with a lot of excitement and a moderate amount of terror.
Between that meeting and August 19th, we exchanged a lot more emails, we made plans for T-shirts, transportation, lodging, food, and we ran. Oh, and we found a driver for van 1. Jeni put the request out on dailymile and Joel G. stepped up to the plate to be our chauffeur. I cannot lie. I again had some apprehension. Are we really going to let this complete stranger drive us all over rural Minnesota and Wisconsin? What if he's a freak? What if he's an ax murderer? What if he's a horrible driver? What if he's annoying? Turns out there was no need for concern. We could not have had a better driver. To use Jeni's words, "special thanks to Joel G for driving for us even though I'm sure you would have rather been running, and for your steady good nature and patience even when you got no break despite your equal lack of sleep as the runners."
As for the race itself, it's hard for me to find words. It was a truly incredible experience. Chris and I spent some time last night trying to figure out why exactly we thought it was so very incredible. Ultimately we couldn't come up with a concise answer. I guess it was just a good escape. For the first time in a long time, we left reality behind (for the most part, anyway). For 28+ hours, all we had to worry about was running, refueling, hanging with our teammates, and making sure we made it to our next exchange at the appropriate time.
I'd like to give a small shout out to everyone who made this possible. Chris Holt for taking the initiative to find a team, Jeni and Cristy for their hard work and enthusiasm, the entire team for being nuts enough to jump on this crazy train, our volunteers, and those at home who held down the fort so that we could go pursue this insanity. To my van 1 teammates, thanks for a great time. I have not laughed so much in a long, long time. To my van 2 teammates, I wish we'd have had more time to spend together. I hope you all enjoyed your ride!