Okie Dokie my friends. I’ve decided to recap this relay in two parts. So without further ado here’s how Day 1 went down and a few tips sprinkled throughout just in case you ever decide to run one of these (or run again if you’ve already done one).
First here are the Call me a CABernet runners in order of appearance:
Friday morning we woke up 2:30am (not a typo!), packed up the van and headed to the start. #yawn
We arrived at Golden Gate Park about 4am and made our way to the check-in and mandatory
safety briefing #yawn
Ragnar takes safety very seriously and requires all runners to wear a reflective safety vest from 6:30pm to 7am and the runner on the course must wear a headlamp and blinking butt light as well. Makes for great fashion statements =)
headed to check in and safety meeting
We had a start time of 5:15am. With 500 teams participating they assigned us all start times based on our average pace so that there wouldn’t be bottlenecks at each exchange or the finish (more on this later as bottlenecking was one of the negatives I felt about the race).
Elvia started us off with leg 1. We were finally feeling awake and ready to cheer her on along with some other teams who also had the 5:15am start.
Cabbie #1 ready to kick of the relay.
The first six legs were fairly uneventful. We all just wanted to get ourselves into a groove and a process.
Uneventful? How about my leg had stairs, hills and running on sand! That ish was hard!
We rotated responsibilities….When Elvia was running, Mike was getting prepared to run. Lisa was driving and one of us was navigating, the others were there to ensure Elvia got back to the van safely and Mike got going with his leg ok. TIP 1: If you choose to do a Ragnar Relay as an ultra team make sure you plan out rotation of all responsibilities. For instance, first determine how many runners are willing and able to drive (19 foot vans are no joke!) Then ensure no runner has to drive the leg before or after their leg. They will want to either change into dry clothes or fuel etc.) We were a little too lax about appointing a “copilot/navigator” and a “runner fetcher” so as the hours passed and people became sleepy and hungry and cranky no one was loving the idea of having a responsibility assignment and were less likely to volunteer ourselves.
During the first chunk of legs, while everyone was still happy and awake and the novelty hadn’t worn off we took pictures at the exchanges and just enjoyed the experience.
Happy Cabbie’s posing for a picture at exchange 3 (Sausalito)
More happy Cabbie’s posing for a pic at exchange 3 in Sausalito
TIP 2: Work just as hard to keep the team spirit up as you do the running. We started out strong but sort of crumbled with that spirit as we got sleep deprived.
Right away I remembered something else as we began legs 7-12.
Approaching exchange 7
Since I was runner #6 I passed off the slap bracelet to Elvia at Exchange 7 and instantly realized that it was a much larger exchange. I had forgotten about this in past relays. Because traditional relay teams are 2 vans, van 1 ends and van 2 begins at exchange 7 (and again at 13, 19, 25, and 31) and there tends to be double the crowds and double the amount of parked vans. So since Elvia had a fairly short leg for leg 7 my time was limited and the line for the Honey Buckets (otherwise known as porta-potties) was long and I was really worried I wouldn’t have time to go before we had to bust out of that exchange and head to the next.
TIP 3: When planning, be prepared to need a few extra minutes at the bigger exchanges and make sure the runner knows ahead of time that they might just have to wait an extra 30 minutes before having the opportunity to pee or change or what have you. Seriously, the running is the easy part with these kind of relays. It’s all the logistics that get complicated.
We had a cooler in the van with food that we all bought the night before and plenty of water. After my second leg I pulled out a half sandwich to munch on. Ah, we were still in the honeymoon period! By the time 24 hours had passed I was sick to my stomach and just eating trail mix hoping it would stay down. #notpretty
just a hill, halfway up from a hill that I had to conquer during my 2nd leg through Petaluma. Breathtaking views but man that hill was hard!
I wonder what these animals were thinking as runners kept running by them?
TIP 4: Kick your feet up when you can. Your feet will thank you.
reinforcing TIP 4!
Approaching Exchange 13.
Happy sisters at an exchange somewhere on day 1
Happy sisters again
Cindy was struggling up the hill but i think once the shirtless dude passed her she got a second wind ;)
Night was upon us as we approached leg 14 or 15 and we slacked on picture taking a bit. Both Lisa and Valerie had 9 mile legs during this time (both were unsupported or partially unsupported legs making it more challenging for them) We did have the opportunity to stop once for lisa to replace her headlamp that died. I ran my first night leg at about 11pm and finished just before midnight.
finished my night leg just before midnight!
18 legs down, about 100 miles covered and 16 hours had passed as we said goodbye to Friday and officially started Day 2…
Stay tuned for for pooping in the dark, more night gear failures, a few meltdowns and more in Part 2!