ragnar trail atlanta

May 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm 3 comments

the very long, very overdue ragnar trail atlanta race report …

as much of a relay fan that i am, i never really had a burning desire to do a ragnar. if the cost of registration, van rental and finish line hotel wasn’t enough to deter me, the idea of being cooped up in a van with five other people did! i don’t care how well i know or even like some people … close stinky quarters like that are not my idea of fun! but when i got the offer to join a ragnar trail atlanta team, i didn’t hesitate to accept! trails and tents? now that’s far more my style!

thursday morning race weekend we all met up at my house. we were a mixed masters team of seven ~ short one female ~ and though we all have a bit of a competitive nature we really were just in it for the fun … and a few of us might have actually opened our first beers before 9 a.m. while packing the cars 😉 we split into two vehicles and hit the road north. plan was to bypass atlanta and spend thursday night with walt’s brother.

an eventless easy drive, great hosts, dinner and drinks out, and a huge homemade breakfast friday morning made for a happy team and we were almost able to put the severe weather warnings out of mind. i for one didn’t want another race in the conditions i had run in the weekend before at croom. i’d dodged enough lighting to last awhile! and though i figured ragnar staff would be more apt to pull runners off course we still had to consider we’d be sheltered in nothing more than a tent. in spite of the huge red mass moving across the radar, rush, the new girl none of us really knew, kept telling us it wasn’t going to rain (as a virgin camper i think she was more praying it wouldn’t!) and we all scoffed at her naivety and prepared for the worst.

we got to camp around 11 a.m. and quickly realized we should have been there earlier. the ragnar staff had encouraged people to camp thursday night and apparently many had. the treeline hope was dashed ~ which meant no hammocks ~ but we still found a decent spot close enough to the action but far enough from it in hopes of some quite and possible sleep later that night. as we set up camp fighting gusty wind, i constantly checked the weather report. you could almost smell the storms in the air. but each time i checked the report i became more and more dumbfounded as the 90% chance of severe storms dropped to 70. then 50. then 40. the rain started. a light shower that lasted maybe 10 minutes. followed by a final report of no chance of more. what the fuck?! don’t get me wrong. we were thrilled but how in the hell do you go from a solid 90% chance of severe weather to nothing more than a few sprinkles?! we all bowed down to rush’s weather predicting greatness!

given how close we were to her parent’s house, the bunny made a guest appearance for a short visit and helped us set up camp. if i do this race again next year, i’ll stay with her instead. the hour she was able to stick around wasn’t enough and i was sad to see her go. i spent the afternoon hanging with my team, checking out the race village. sponsor samples. ragnar gear (bought a cute tank top) and hundreds of energized runners. being able to walk around and explore was far more enjoyable than what i imagine ragnar van jail to be!

the dukes of hazardous running

the dukes of hazardous running

it was asomewhere around 7 p.m. when i headed out for my first leg ~ a 6.8 mile loop. i’d heard warnings of hills and was prepared to tackle. but the first two miles were a breeze. flat enough, easy, gorgeous. and i started to think maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. ha! i was wrong. rock inclines that allowed for little more than a walk to ensure footing, grassy hillsides and trails that i struggled up. but regardless the beauty could not be denied. and when i got to the top of the first granite hill i’d scaled i turned around to survey what i had just run and caught my breath in awe at the huge rainbow stretched across the trails behind me. for the first time ever i almost wished i run with my camera so i could have taken a picture but then i realized that that moment was mine. yes, i knew others would see it; from trail or camp. but for even a mere split second the inspiration of it was all mine.

not my picture but essentially my view

not my picture but essentially my view

sun set

sun set

i passed a number of people on that leg. felt strong and energized. but as i neared the end i realized i had a problem. i failed to mention that at croom the weekend prior i had rolled my ankle. mile 20ish. a complete sideways full weight roll that i shook off and never thought twice about. but a few days later it had begun to bother me and it was here at the end of leg one that the pain started to set in. i took a quick trip to the medic who assessed and deemed it a likely sprain and told me to come back right before leg 2 for taping.

in spite of the discomfort, i was starving and happy so i hit the race provided pasta dinner line and poured myself a strong titos and soda. i only had a few hours until i’d be running again but i needed to relax, enjoy and maybe get a little shut eye.

night life

night life

tent sleeping in a village of hundreds wasn’t easy but i managed a little. around 1 a.m. i headed to the medic for tape. i was running back-to-back legs ~ the same 6.8 i’d run first followed by a 4.7 mile loop ~ to cover being short a runner and this was the part of the race i was most worried about. trails in the dark don’t brother me in the least. i do them all the time. but i’ve never run trails in the dark alone! 

but it was amazing. maybe it was because i knew i wasn’t really alone. not that i saw a lot of other runners but i knew they were close by. the occasional person i passed ~ or got passed by ~ helped break up the loneliness but in between i enjoyed the solo nighttime miles.

unfortunately my ankle was not in great shape. and to add insult to injury, the way the medic taped it was causing friction on the back of my foot and i could feel the skin getting raw. as i hobbled in from loop number one, i wanted desperately to be done but i switched bracelets (ragnar’s color coded indication of what leg you were running) and headed back out for more. new to me terrain helped make that second part fun. narrow switchbacks and rolling hills didn’t allow for a moment of boredom.

as soon as i got back in, i headed straight back to the med tent. by now my ankle was swollen and definitely not feeling great. but with a hopeful few hours of sleep ahead the medic suggested i give it breathing room and re-tape before my final leg later that morning.

though i’m sure sleeping in a van with others is even harder, sleeping in a tent with them ain’t easy either. this is where ragnar likely always boils down to making sure your team consists of those you not just like but can actually stand to be around at times of stress or exhaustion. a lack of common courtesy to keep voices down and talking to minimum at 3 a.m. almost sent me over the edge of patience. and the less than stellar neatness and organization skills of a few on my team made me cringe. but truth is, my perfectionism is just as much a bone to be dealt with and i bit my tongue and chose my battles.

it was somewhere around 8 a.m. i headed out for my final loop. thankfully, rush had stepped up to pick up the last extra leg which meant i only had to hobble through 3.6. and hobble is what i did. the tape offered some support but the pain was tough to bear. somehow i got through my miles then plopped down with a bag of ice and a beer miserable and exhausted! but as we waited for the last of our runners to be done, the air force guy and i made friends with the tent over and found ourselves embroiled in a fun, heated corn toss competition from which we couldn’t be unthroned. warm sun, cold beer and laughter filled good times. rolled ankle or not … this was what post-racing should always be about 🙂

we reconvened as a team to see our final runner in. third place mixed-masters with second a mere few minutes ahead. (damn damn damn. we could have taken second had i not been hurt!) we were a little disappointed to learn that there was no post-race awards ceremony. not to mention party. team after team came in from their last leg and merely started packing up their gear and heading home. but we weren’t going anywhere! camping saturday night was an option ~ just apparently not one ragnar stressed teams to consider ~ and we intended to have some fun! by evening there were maybe 30 tents scattered across the “village”. but there was no lack of liquor and laughter! we ordered pizza (not exactly campfire food but man it fed a bunch of hungry runners) and we might have “stolen” a couch from the side of the dumpster. i didn’t last long. given i’d been drinking in the sun half the day, the air mattress was calling my name. but i lasted long enough to see the late night streaker ~ and no it wasn’t anyone from my team!

the stank couch

the stank couch

sunday morning we broke camp and headed home. another successful race adventure and one i’ll likely do again next year.

ragnar bling

ragnar bling




Entry filed under: racing, running. Tags: , , , , , .

50 memories of me week of wonder

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kitkat1126  |  May 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I’ve always been so curious about these races. On one hand they sound like so much fun…on the other, I’m not so sure. It’s all part of the point I guess – but not sleeping, being uncomfortable being stuck in a van for hours, umm bathrooms?, etc. all sound… not so much fun. But running alone in the dark for whatever reason, just sounds like such a unique experience (and one I would only feel safe doing during a race like this).

    It sounds like you went with a great group and had a really good time. I’m sorry to hear about your ankle though, and hoping it’s in better shape now.

  • 2. Miss Mile High  |  May 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I think I’ve said before that I normally don’t love race recaps, but this one kept me reading the entire time. Wow! I can’t even begin to imagine…

    Great job!

    • 3. becelisa  |  May 22, 2014 at 8:43 am

      thank you! i love that i can find the words to take something you normally find boring and turn them into a story you can’t walk away from.


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the best of times

5k pr ~ 24:23
10k pr ~ 52:49
half marathon pr ~ 1:55:10
marathon pr ~ 4:10:41
half ironman pr ~ 5:57:50
50k pr ~ 5:33:23
50-mile pr ~ 11:32:39



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