Earlier this summer, I ran my very first Ragnar Relay here in Pennsylvania. It was a great experience and it was definitely something I wanted to do again. Not long after, a friend ask me to join his Ragnar team (Chafing the Dream)…..woot! This Ragnar was going to be on trail and I was looking forward to checking out the differences between a Road Relay and a Trail Relay.
The event was held at Big Bear Lake Campground in West Virginia. The race started on Friday and was to end on Saturday. The drive wasn’t bad at all, it took us about 3 hours to get there from Harrisburg. Half of our team got there and set up camp on Thursday (we had a team of 8). Probably, one of our best ideas! lol 🙂 We ended up getting a real nice spot with plenty of space for all of us to set up our tents and spread out.
Upon arriving to the start area/camping area, it was like entering a tent city! lol 🙂 There was a section that was referred to as the landing strip. It was two, one way lanes that were connected on the end to make a narrow oval. On either side and in the middle were grassy areas. You could pick a site out in that area or in the wooded area surrounding the landing strip. Our spot was away from the hustle and bustle of the main drag and right along side a section of the course!! We also had trees for shade and to keep the rain away.
One thing that had me somewhat anxious regarding our weekend, was the weather report. It was calling for rain and thunderstorms for the whole weekend. Luckily as each day passed, the forecast changed for the better. We ended up only having to deal with some periods of brief sprinkles and one quick storm that passed over in ten minutes.
Jason, Nikki and I arrived just before our team’s official start time of 1pm, so we were able to be there to send Amy off on her first leg. The course consisted on 3 separate trails/loops (green, yellow, red). Each runner had to run every loop. The order depended on where you were placed in the roster. I ended up being Runner #7. One thing I liked about that, was that I was able to hear from everyone else beforehand, about what they thought about each loop and it’s difficulties.
After setting up our tents and unloading, we went exploring. 🙂 At the far end of the landing strip was where the ‘party’ was at! 😉 It was like a little village up there with all the stuff you needed. There was a large pavilion, under which, sat a few dozen tables set with chairs, a caterer preparing for the evening’s meal and the transition center where you passed off to the next runner. Ragnar had their retail tent set up alongside the check in area. Salomon was there as a sponsor for the race and they had several pairs of trail shoes available for runners to try on and even ‘test drive’ during the race. The idea of not having to worry about mucking up your shoes was pretty appealing! 😉
There was a fire pit set up with stacks of wood ready to go for the weekend ahead. REI was also there with a tent of their own. They had several different styles of camp chairs and tables around the area for runners to sit and chill at. There was even a big outdoor JENGA set! Eno was there with about a dozen of their hammocks set up around the village area. At times, it was hard to find an empty one but I was able to catch some rest in a hammock or two during the weekend. 😉
Music played pretty much non-stop up at the village which provided a nice atmosphere. Both Thursday and Friday nights, there were movies projected on the side of the Ragnar trailer after dark. It gave you something to do while you were waiting for your teammate to come in to transition.
There were many fun things to keep you occupied during down time between legs. Sleep was one of those things! Woot! 🙂 That is one definite difference between the Road Relay and Trail Relay, sleep! When running the Lancaster to Poconos race this summer, I, maybe, got 4 hours of sleep in a two-day time frame. Sooooo not cool. It took me 3 days to recover sleep-wise after the race. This time, I was able to get some cat naps in and just relax, which gave me much more energy for my runs. My runs and experience on the trails, I’ll save for my next post. Until then…….NEVER GIVE UP 🙂