It is definitely safe to say I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up to run the Ragnar Del Sol. To be quite honest I knew nothing, and wish I read more blogs about it to prepare for the amazing experience that was to come! In hopes to help you avoid going into it blindly like I did, I want to share all things Ragnar!!
First of all, what the heck is a Ragnar anyways?
The whole point of Ragnar is that you are with a team! You are doing something together that you could never accomplish alone. If you enjoy running but prefer sports with teammates, then this is for you! Ragnar Relay is a 200 ish mile race, that you tag team with 11 other people. It takes place over a 2 day and 1 night period, where someone from your team is running at all times!! There are 12 runners, 6 to each van. This van basically becomes your home, as you spend all your time in it when you aren’t running. You essentially just drop a runner off at a starting point, they run anywhere from 3-12 miles, and then you pick them back up, cheering them on at different stopping points the whole time! You all rotate running, and each run at least 3 legs over the course of 2 days. This means you run at least one leg at night! And if you’re thinking ‘When do you sleep?’, you don’t. I think I slept a little under 2 hours total the whole time! You are running many more miles than you’re sleeping. Yes it’s intense and yes your body hurts and yes it was the funnest thing ever!!!!
What do you pack?
-At least 3 different FULL running outfits! Meaning, don’t try to use one pair of pants/sports bra/shirt the whole time. You will be getting very sweaty, and because you’re just going right back into the van after running, there isn’t really a place to let your pants “air out” to wear again the next leg! Plus, you don’t want to stink up the van- aka your home.
-A grocery bag or Ziploc to put all your smelly sweaty dirties in
-One jacket and one comfy pj like pants-in case you do get some time to nap and don’t want to be in running clothes
-Reflective Vest (the handbook explains the requirements for this, but this one was perfect and cheap)
-Headlamp for night runs (unless you have an awesome team captain like we did that brings this for you!)
–Tiger Balm for sore muscles!
–Nuun Hydration Tablets (super easy & convenient way to get electrolytes in!)
-Flip flops or Birks to change into to give your feet a break in between runs.
Besides the obvious like clean undies, socks, running armband, headphones, and running shoes, that’s pretty much it! I had packed a book, a game (Cards Against Humanity, of course) and a portable foam roller and really didn’t need any of it! The foam roller was nice, but the small amount of times it was used was not really worth the extra space it took up!
What do you eat?
The food part was slightly tricky! You do stop once for food at the end of everyone’s first leg (before the night run), but that is also dependant on where you are! Luckily we were in a city with a lot of good food choices, but it’s definitely a good idea to pack a lot of snacks that are fueling for all your hard work. Here’s what was in my food bag:
-Instant Oatmeal packs (all you do is add hot water and you’ve got a meal!)
–Nut butter packets (to add to bananas pre run, and oats)
–Vital Proteins to go packs (add to oats)
-Nuzest Protein Powder
–Protein shaker bottle (so glad I brought this!)
–Simple Mills Crackers
-My amazing teammates also brought some hearty muffins, pb filled pretzels (my weakness!), and cinnamon bread for quick carbs! If you pack a cooler, some easy veggies like peppers and carrots are perfect to bring with hummus.
How do you train?
As far as training goes, it’s a little different from training for a marathon or longer distance race. Because your longest leg will most likely be no more than 12 miles (mine was 9!), you don’t need to train any crazy long runs. The hardest part physically was going from an intense run to immediately sitting in the van. I’m not exactly sure how you could “train” for that aspect of it, but stretching is key!!! During training and the race itself. Another helpful training tip is to make sure you are hill-ready. It depends on what state your Ragnar is in, but the AZ one was full of hills! I was grateful to have been running at least a few elevated training runs before hand.
I hope you are considering or already committed to running a Ragnar!! It was a totally different experience from any race I’ve ever ran, and memories I’ll hold on to forever! It challenges you physically and mentally, but the best part is having your teammates to get you through it all.