Aside from the select few that participated in school track or cross country, I think most of you can identify that running really isn’t a team sport. In fact, running is really quite the opposite. Typically, your daily runs are dictated by you and your races are a quest to test your personal limits and beat your own personal best.
The Ragnar Relay Series takes out individualization from the sport of running. In this 200 mile race your limits are tested as a team. You run for not just yourself, but for each other, making Ragnar a unique racing experience and likely your most memorable one too.
This spring 18 Vegatopians were itching for a challenge and decided to entered the #RagnarSoCal race with not one but two teams- one regular 12-man team and one ultra 6-man team.
What is Ragnar?
Ragnar is an overnight running relay race. Teams consisting of either 12 or 6 people conquer approximately 200 miles relay-style. Once you start there’s no stopping, which means you eat, sleep and run until the mileage is conquered. Each participant runs 3 times, with legs ranging from 3 miles to 15 miles (depending on number of people in your team).
1. Physical Preparation
The Vega Teams signed up for this race way back in the fall, and after the New Year training began. Whether you’re running with the ultra team or the 12-man team will dictate what your training will look like in terms of mileage. Style of training, however, will be consistent for all teams.
The trick to Ragnar training is fatigued training. Because you will be running 3 legs, with only a few hours in between, scheduling your training runs this way is definitely suggested. I typically did two “doubles” each week. My mid-week double was typically a 5+ mile run in the morning followed by a spinning (or alternative cardio) in the evening. My weekend double was two runs on Saturday (AM and PM) followed by a Sunday AM run. Sunday was fatigued running at its finest, and I truly believe the runs that prepared me the most for this race.
Beyond personal training for the actual runs there’s a LOT of other coordination that goes into running a successful Ragnar. Nominating a team captain to take charge of the organization is key. This person will be the contact between Ragnar and the team; they will ensure all logistical matters are handled including race day checklists, travel arrangements, van rentals, and more. Appoint your very best organizer—this person is gold.
3. Express Yourself
In addition to a team name, each team expresses themselves in various ways. Many teams have coordinating shirts made while others have full on themed costumes. But, getting decked out doesn’t stop with each other. It’s encouraged that each Ragnar team also deck-out their vans. Adding flare to your nondescript 15 passenger white van not only personalizes your journey, it also helps pick each other out of a crowd (a parking lot with a lot of identical white vans).
Because you’re running through the night, and on trafficked roads, safety is a major player in this race. Each fan must have night gear for both the runner and van passengers: reflective vests, headlamps, a blinking LED tail-light, and a road crossing flag.
Arguably harder than running the race is fueling for it. What do you eat between the hours of midnight and 3AM, when you’re tired, fatigued and gearing up to run a second leg? How do you stay hydrated during the course? For each team it’s recommended you shop for fuel prior to the race start. This is especially important for ultra teams, as you will have much less time to stop and get a meal. This is how we fueled:
- Vega Sport Nutrition System
- Sprouted whole grain breads and cereals
- Almond milk
- Green juices
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Nut butters
- Dried fruits
6. Enjoy the ride
It’s impossible to be 100% prepared for this experience. It’s unique to the race and to the team. Go in prepared for your legs. Train hard and commit to putting your best self forward. Most of all, go in with an open mind and a full heart and remember to enjoy yourself. The more you let in the more you’ll get out of it. And somewhere around 2:30AM try to remember that the physical fatigue, the lack of showers and sleep will be worth the finish line.
Realize Anything Is Possible
I’ve run a lot of races. And #RagnarSoCal was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Ragnar tests limits, of both the body and the mind. It piles you into a van for 30+ hours, allowing you and your teammates to share highs, lows, achievements and fears. With lots of laughter and LOTS of sweat this race gives you the realization that with a lot of hard work, good friends and determination you are stronger and more capable than you ever thought possible. Who’s ready to sign up for the next Ragnar Relay?
What was your most memorable race experience?