Marla Westbrook » Mom, Runner, Burleson/Fort Worth, Texas Photographer

Fit Friday – Ragnar Wasatch Back

Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in my first (but certainly not last) Ragnar Relay in beautiful Utah.  In case you’re not familiar with what a Ragnar is, imagine 12 runners, packed into 2 vans, running roughly 200 miles in 2 days.  Sounds a little crazy, huh?  It is!  The Wasatch Back race in Utah is the original Ragnar, and this was the 10th anniversary of its running so it was pretty special.  There were so many teams that they had a Thurs/Fri relay, and then another big group of teams ran on Fri/Sat.  We were in the Thurs/Fri group so we headed out to meet our Van 1 teammates at the first major exchange mid-morning on Thursday.  Note to self:  pick Van 2 whenever possible, Van 1 typically starts at the butt crack of dawn.

I was runner 8 of our 12 person team, so that meant I was the 2nd runner in our van to run.  My first leg was only 2.6 miles, but I was so nervous it was like I was about to run a full marathon.  I was the only Ragnar newbie in our van, so I depended heavily on my very experienced van-mates to tell me when to get my happy ass out and be ready to run.  My first leg went just fine, it was short and sweet (albeit a little hot and sunny) and I was so relieved to have the first exchanges behind me and be back in the van.  Let me stop here and tell you about our “van”.  It wasn’t a van at all, it was more like a mini bus.  One of our teammates happens to live next to an assisted living home and they graciously allowed us the use of their vehicle.  It was sweet and runners all the way from Logan to Park City were jealous of our roomy ride, several actually asked if they could come in and check it out.  Yeah, we were kind of a big deal.  I’ve been told I’ve been spoiled and should not expect such luxury on our next Ragnar, but we’re gonna need to see what we can do about that.  Once you go Rag-Mobile, you can never go back.  😉

My 2nd leg came around midnight Thursday night/Friday morning and I was feeling OK about it until we came into the exchange before mine and saw signs that read “Warning, mountain lions have been seen in this area.”  Ummmmm, excuse me, what?!?!  I’m about to run 6 miles in the dark.  By myself.  With mountain lions around?!?!  Yikes.  I donned my safety gear (the rules of the Ragnar are that you must wear a reflective safety vest, a head lamp and a blinking butt light on your night runs), was wishing that I’d brought my pepper spray and headed out, not at all confident that I wasn’t going to have a panic attack, but ready to get my 2nd leg the heck over with.  It was a nice gradual downhill through a canyon, and honestly, it was amazing.  The air was crisp and cool (a runner’s dream), and the moon was almost full, so I could see really well all around me.  I finished up, headed back to the van, changed into some dry warm clothes (yeah…in the van…you become a pro at the quick-change during a Ragnar) and laid down for a bit while we shuttled from exchange to exchange to drop off and pick up the rest of our runners.

We had a bit of a break early in the morning when Van 1 took over, and then before we knew it, we were headed up into the mountains again to run our last legs.  My last one was 5.5 miles, fairly flat with only one real “hill” but I struggled with the heat, altitude and just general exhaustion that comes from doing a relay over 2 days.  I finally came into my last exchange around 1pm and just like that, my part of the Ragnar was done.  All I had left to do was cheer for my 4 remaining runners, who all had tough legs to finish and then it would time for the fun part, meeting back up with Van 1, crossing the finish together and of course, getting our bling.  Y’all know I’m a sucker for good bling, and Ragnar bling is some of the best.  I mean, it’s a bottle opener for goodness sakes.  What else could a girl possibly need?!?!

Van 2 at the first major exchange, ready to take off on our first legs of the race.

{Me, Ryan, Jeremy and Erica (my neighbors), Rick (Erica’s dad) and Krissa (Erica’s sister-in-law)}

Randomness along the way, including my first exchange, some of the beautiful scenery, the famous mountain lion sign, the Rag-Mobile, my temporary Ragnar tats, our mountain-slayer, Erica, the bling and even a few shots from my sight-seeing adventures in Salt Lake City after the race.  Oh, and why on earth would I have a picture of porta-potties, you may ask?  Well, in Utah, they’re called Honey Buckets and like most things in Utah, they were super clean.  Not at all what I expected, lol, so I felt they earned a picture.

Van 2  post-race.  Krissa had already packed away her bling, don’t worry, she got one too.

The whole Makin’ It Rain crew at the finish.

This was such a cool experience for me, and definitely a must-do for all runners.  It kind of reminded me of what I love about ultra running events, lots of support, camaraderie and a ton of fun being had by all.  We are already planning the next one, Las Vegas in November.  Only to make it really cool, we’re going to run it as a ultra or 6 person team instead of 12.  Does that sound like a blast or what?!!?  I also have it on good authority that there’s going to be a Ragnar in Texas in March of 2014 if all goes as planned.  Who’s in?!?!  Come on, you know you wanna!!!
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