Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Race Report: Ragnar Relay - Great River (Part 2)

To read Part 1, go HERE.

We left off after Van 2 handed off the slap-bracelet baton to Van 1 in Stockholm, WI.  Van 1 headed out to follow their first runner.  Those of us in Van 2 headed into the tiny Wisconsin town to find something more substantial to eat besides pretzels, fruit, energy bars and Gatorade.

Gelly's Pub had a great Ragnar special going on: $10 each got us a pulled pork or chicken sandwich, pasta salad, chips, fresh fruit, and a homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.  Yum!

We left Stockholm after we walked back to our van after supper.

Leaving Exchange 12.  Everyone is sporting their reflective vests, as "nighttime hours" are now in effect.
A couple of us in the van tried to nap, but most stayed awake as we drove through rural Wisconsin.

We drove through an area where we hit so many bugs with the van that it sounded like it was raining outside!  Eww!  At the next available gas station, we cleaned the carcasses off the front of the van.

Jack and Jim clean off the windshield
We drove a little longer until we made it to the Pierce County Fairgrounds in Ellsworth, WI, the site of Exchange 18.  Here, we would wait and try to get a little sleep before Van 1 rolled in and Gregg handed off the bracelet-baton to me.

Jim and I took up space in the van to try to get a little shut-eye, while the rest of the van took their sleeping bags and pillows outside in the designated sleeping areas.  I was smart enough to bring earplugs this year to drown out the background noise, but I still couldn't sleep.  I didn't sleep a wink last year, and it looked like I might follow suit again this year.

Around midnight, Van 1 rolled in.  Gregg handed off to me, and I was on my way.  The nighttime leg of Ragnar is by far my favorite leg.  Running at night is surreal and scary at the same time.  Ahead of you are runners, their vests illuminated by the light of your headlamp, bouncing up and down.  The crickets are out and chirping, creating their own soundtrack.  Everything is, in its own way, so peaceful.  And then you see shadows in the distance and you wonder what else is out there that you can't see!

The temperatures were in the mid-50s (degrees F) by the time I started running, and I definitely appreciated the break from the heat.  I felt light and fast as I ticked off each mile of my 4.5-mile leg.

Mile 1 - 8:11
Mile 2 - 8:19
Mile 3 - 7:43
Mile 4 - 8:14
Final half-mile - 7:59 pace

Everyone in our van sped up during the nighttime leg due to the cooler temps.

In this video, Jim hands off to Jack.

Mark B., the speed demon in our van, said his average pace during his leg was around 6:49/mile!  Boy, I wish I could run that fast!

We had gained about a half-hour of time compared to our projected pace by the time we made it to Exchange 24 in Stillwater, MN.  Once Dain passed off the slap bracelet, the first thing we did was look for showers at Stillwater Junior High School.  I knew I'd feel a lot better after showering, and I did. :)  Then, we tried to get a little shuteye once again.  I wasn't successful.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 3 (the final portion) of this race report! :)


  1. An hour gain - wow! That's awesome. I am loving learning about this relay. Totally cool experience!

  2. This the best relay!! I haven't done one yet.. someday!

  3. Sounds awesome. Love how you describe that middle of the night leg!

    I was supposed to do a Ragnar (DC) in Sept. with my friends, but my feet had other ideas. Bummed.

  4. That sounds like so much fun. I love your race recaps because I feel like I am right there with you.

  5. Oh, we missed Gelly's Pub! Fortunately, one of the runners brought both turkey and corn beef sandwiches for everyone so we had something other than Gu, pretzels, and Gatorade. I was runner #9 and have to agree that the nighttime run, my second leg was at 2:00am, was by far the most enjoyable run.

    (I also posted a comment on Part 1).

  6. REAL food must have tasted sooo good after all that relay food!

    Awesome pace on this leg!!

  7. Oh can't wait for part III! I don't think I could sleep knowing I was going to run again soon. Also, it does sound like it would be kind of fun to do the night leg. I've never raced at night before.

  8. I loved any relay I have done. Sounds like you had a great time.