Friday, January 17, 2014

Ragnar Countdown - 3 weeks to go

My first race of the year is just 3 weeks away. For those of you who aren't familiar with a relay race, it's a pretty simple concept that at first glance, most people consider completely crazy! We have a team of 12 competing in the Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West. The good news is that 9 of us did a similar relay race together in 2012, so we have a good idea of what to expect and what will be different. Here's a quick comparison between the two races and what I expect to be different this time around:

Tuna Run, October 2012: 200 miles from Raleigh to Atlantic Beach, NC
Ragnar Relay, February 2014: 196 miles from Miami to Key West, FL
  • The Tuna Run was within driving distance for most of our team so we were able to use vans owned by team members and stuff them full of all of our gear, food, water and anything else we could think of before we headed to the start line. This year, we are all flying into Miami and we're renting vans once we get there. We'll also have an additional team member in each van this year, so we need to be more aware of how much we are all packing. Everyone is planning to get everything they need in for the race into a carryon bag. The best lesson that was passed onto us was to put a full outfit for each leg of your race into a ziploc bag and label it so that when you're in the middle of nowhere trying to figure out what you should wear, you've already got it in one handy place. The bag also serves as a great place to store your smelly gear once you finish with your leg and are ready to change into some clean, fresh clothes. 
  • The rules of the race are also a little different than our first race. During the Tuna Run we had a team member who got injured while running their second leg, so we had to shuffle around some distances to cover his third leg. We were allowed to shuffle around however we needed to for this change, with the only rule that runners could not run back-to-back legs. For the Ragnar Relay, we are officially a mixed division team which means if one of our runners is injured and can't run one of their assigned legs, their leg must be filled by someone of the same sex. Probably not a huge issue since we have 6 men and 6 women, but it does narrow down the field of eligible people to take on the extra leg.
  • The Tuna Run had less than 75 registered teams (only 49 teams finished) while the Ragnar Relay has over 500 registered teams! There was a lot of time where we were completely alone on the course for the Tuna Run, but we will definitely be in more of a race atmosphere with the number of teams participating in the Ragnar Relay.
  • With a bigger race comes more amenities. The Tuna Run exchange zones were often at churches or schools which would occasionally allow us to use their indoor restrooms, but often our only option was a porta potty. For this race, there will be exchange zones that offer showers and some of them will feature live bands!
Have you ever done a relay race? Do you think we're crazy to sign up for a 200 mile race?


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