Many moons ago, when we were still living in the Midwest, I read about this crazy overnight relay race that traveled along the Mississippi River. I came up with a list of runners (they were all family members), but not a one showed any real interest in this crazy scheme.
It wasn’t until we moved to Las Vegas that my wild idea resurfaced, this time because I discovered such a 24-hour relay race was being unveiled in the very city I lived in. One thing led to another, and before long I ended up as captain of our first Ragnar Relay team for the very first Las Vegas race. The team consisted of twelve people – a web of friends, colleagues and family members, anyone who was willing to join us for three legs ranging from four to eight miles over the course of 24 hours.
Five years later, our core Ragnar team is still running … though times have changed a wee bit. There are four of us who have continued to run together every year – me, Cory and our next-door neighbors, who are also among our closest friends in Las Vegas. A couple friends of ours from Los Angeles (who we met in Peru) and another Las Vegas-based friend have also been on many of our teams, and every year we make up the rest with our current foreign exchange students and other friends and running souls.
The other major difference our team has undergone is that we’re no longer running the Ragnar Relay, which is a 12-person road race that requires coordination of vans, drivers and other logistics that are incredibly difficult and time consuming. Instead, we’ve switched to the Ragnar Trails Relay, which is based out of a common campground and requires only eight runners per team. It’s much easier to plan, other friends and family can easily join us at camp even if they don’t run, we aren’t crammed in a van and, quite frankly, trail running is a lot more interesting and beautiful than road running.
We signed up for the inaugural trail race right outside of Zion National Park in Southern Utah in 2013 and the race was nothing short of spectacular. Because this was Ragnar’s first trail race, there were certainly a few logistical bumps in the road, but the views from the trail were a thousand times better than anything from the road, the paths were comfortably challenging and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.
For the start of our Ragnar Trails obsession, it was right on.
Given our first successful year at Zion, we signed up again for 2014, but Mother Nature won the race big time. What started out as a close copy to our first year slid quickly into the worst race Ragnar has ever held. A rain storm turned into a blizzard, and the whole race was called off as missing runners tried to find their way back to camp.
The 2014 race started off sunny, complete with shorts and sunglasses.
But, alas, the sun did not last. Our team still smiled, though!
Needless to say, we had unfinished business. (Plus, Ragnar gave us incentive to come back, promising extra bling to those who participated in both the 2014 and 2015 Ragnar Trail Zion races, and who can say no to snazzy running bling?!)
And so we were back in Zion just a couple weeks ago in an attempt to reclaim the race we’d discovered in 2013. Friday was questionable, with patches of sun interspersed with rain and even hail. But we came prepared with lots of extra shoes, rain gear and even hiking poles to be used for slippery, muddy, uphill climbs.
Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, Mother Nature won. This time, the race was put on hold before I had a chance to get on the trail for my second of three runs, and I was bummed not to put in more miles. After an eight-hour hold, we were given the chance to finish on the mud-packed trails, but only a handful of teams powered on, and we weren’t one of them.
We have unfinished business again, but I don’t know that we’ll be making a fourth trip back to this particular race without a date change.
The relay race gene is still alive and glowing, though, so I don’t anticipate we’ll be hanging up our trail shoes any time soon.