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2017 Ragnar Relay Niagara - Race Recap

Wanting to take advantage of early registration price, we were registered for Ragnar Relay for many months. This race has been on my radar (and therefore, on my bucket list) for few years, yet I could never make it happen for two reasons: 1. timing – most of my weekends in the summer would have been spoken for already with other events, and 2. logistics – coordinating multiple people to do anything is pretty much my idea of a nightmare.

Given the recent developments, most folks who knew about Ragnar were not expecting me at the start line. Yet… I feel like my life has been interrupted enough, and I am doing my best to show up – to races, and to life in general, despite the mental fog of “I don’t fucking care about anything right now”. The fog is supposed to be fairly normal in lieu of hormonal fluctuations, and should get better within few weeks. Until then… I am not missing any start lines.

Not your typical race recap, because I do not have the energy or motivation to dig up details of legs and distances, and course maps, but, thanks for our captain, I have SOME details.

Distance Covered

Team SOLO completed 5/6 of the course, so about 250.4km of the 304.4km. We did legs 1 through 19 continuously, then started leap-frogging and doubling up runners. By doubling up we managed to accumulate enough mileage between runners to fully complete legs 20, 21*, 23*, 24, 25*, 26, 28*, 29, 31*, 32, and 36*. A * indicates where we actually had paired up runners on the course.

In terms of totals:

BEAR CUB, as Runner #1, was the only member of the team to complete all six of her legs, and put in 35.1km. ULTRA LIGHT, as Runner #2, completed five legs, for a total of 42.3km. SPLATTER, at #3, completed four legs, for a total of 38km. SOLO, at #4, completed four legs, for a total of 29.6km. BLACK DRAGON, as Runner #5, completed five legs, for a total of 45.6km. YAK LORD, at #6, completed five legs, for a total of 53.8km; and CRUISE CONTROL, as our last minute sub, completed two legs, for a total of 10km.

*Congrats to Ultra Light, Black Dragon and Yak Lord for completing ULTRA distance!

Here are some of my thoughts on Ragnar Relay – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

My team was amazing. My nickname (correctly) leads one to believe that for the most part, I am NOT a fan of organized group anything. And please do not ask me to wear matching t-shirts – being in someone’s wedding party is bad enough. Spending 30 some hours in a van with a bunch of people, and NOT killing each other is actually a fantastic outcome, AND a great test of friendship. We are still all friends. #missionaccomplished

We are at the finish line!

Running is (and always has been) a great distraction from everything, and coping mechanism for everything. Please use responsibly. My body performed remarkably well. I felt a little weaker than usual, and the full planned distance of 48k did not happen (which was something I knew might occur), but I did end up covering about 30k.

The Bad

The logistics. Ok, ok, I am magnificently bad at logistics, and details, and I understand this IS a big event, but the amount of things to keep track of was pretty ridiculous. Multiple versions of a “race bible” (note to self: if a race has a bible, that might be a good sign right there, that it may not be a good match), long lists of required and recommended equipment, stickers, bibs, flags, timing chips, safety vests, schedules, legs, Excel spreadsheets. Again… none of these things are BAD per say, and in this case, are probably required to ensure a safe experience of many many people running through the city simultaneously, but if you are not a planning king/queen, you may want to outsource the captaining/planning to someone way better (thank you, D!), or consider a different event.

While I have to give kudos to anyone who manages to somehow organize an event, spanning over 200 miles, I found the lack of signage frustrating. I did get lost on one of the legs, covering few more kilometres than I was supposed to – while it was not a big deal physically, it played a real number on me mentally. [It was really validating to later find out that I was not the only runner struggling with directions, as a number of racers got off course, and popped up at a different point on course altogether, missing the transition point. So… not just me.]

JoLo, aka Bear Cub, takes the cake for THE best message sent throughout the entire event – it encapsulates the spirit of Ragnar well – time stamped 2.10am.

I was really glad to have a cell phone on me, as I was able to text my teammates, and let them know that I was lost, off course, and was retracing my steps. Despite my miserable sense of direction, I was able to figure out where I was and get back to the appropriate spot in the race course. However, as a result, I arrived to the next transition 45-60 minutes later than planned, and was even more disappointed to find out that the race organizers sent the next racer on our team to the next transition. I think that was the first moment when the race stopped feeling like a race for me, and became… just hundreds of people jogging along Lakeshore.

Despite a great running vibe, connecting with other teams and runners did not really seem to be an easy thing. For a team event, you might find yourself fairly lonely while running – most legs I ran completely alone, with an occasional runner or two ahead of me in the distance. Do not expect a Yonge Street 10k stream of bodies here. Staggered starts also contributed to the runners being quite far stretched out from each other.

The Ugly

To be honest, the only ugly was the ugly cry I had behind the swag tent at the finish line. And even then, I managed to keep it pretty cute. Ugly cute. You know… like French bulldogs.

We also smelled pretty ugly by the end. So, there is that.

All things considered, this IS a great event, and one I recommend for team-oriented road runners who are not afraid of a bit of planning. As for myself, I don’t think I will be doing the classic Ragnar Relay again. Too much pavement, too much logistics, and not enough “pretty, let’s get the hell outside of the city” for my taste. However, my team and I are already talking about Ragnar Trail next year. #fuckpavement

Hugs, SOLO


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