Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Race Recap: Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back UT

My Ragnar Wasatch adventure with Team Nuun began on Thursday morning heading to the airport bound for Salt Lake City, Utah.  This was my first time travelling solo since I had my daughter and I was actually a little bit nervous! 

Off I go!
I landed in SLC and headed to the other terminal to wait for Jeremy (also of Team Nuun) to arrive.  You can read about his adventures here.  When he arrived at the gate, we hugged and were happy to have officially met for the first time!  He joked that it was like an episode of Road Rules, meeting and picking up team members one at a time as they arrived!  We waited at pick up for Brian from Nuun Hydration to pick us up and then we headed to lunch in downtown Salt Lake City. 
We've arrived in Utah!
While at lunch in downtown, I happened to run into a friend from high school who moved to Salt Lake City after high school graduation and I had not seen her since!  We had talked on facebook about my visit to Utah, but we had not made definitive plans because I wasn't sure of mine.  It was pretty crazy that she chose to eat lunch at the same place!  What are the chances!

After lunch we headed back to the hotel and waited for more of the team to arrive, then we all headed out to our team dinner at Squatters.   Was so great to meet everyone in person.  Thanks again Nuun!  
The whole gang- Team Nuuniacs!
 A fellow member of our Ragnar team was also a fellow Women's Health Action Hero with me this year and last!  Yeah Vieve! 

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and began decorating our vans.  So fun!  This was all new to me as I had never done a Ragnar before.  Van decorating is amazing team bonding time!  Ha!
After that, we all went to bed.  It was late and we were tired.  Time to rest up as there wasn't going to be a lot of sleep for a while!  Van 1 headed out earlier in the morning as they had to get to the start line by 11am.  We didn't start until later so we were able to leave late and kill time before heading to Exchange 6. 
Brian, Jeremy, Vieve, George, Mindy and I are off!

We decided to make a detour and check out Willard Bay State Park.  The water was so warm and we all wanted to go in!  But instead, we just took cool pictures ;-)

We arrived at exchange 6 and waited for Van 1 to arrive.   It was getting really, really hot.  On the drive to the exchange, we learned that a Park City man died that morning on one of the legs.  We talked about taking it easy and staying hydrated.  We checked in, proved we had all of our safety gear and watched the mandatory safety video.  We walked around and did a little shopping and free sampling at the booths.  We tried to stay in the shade as much as possible as that bright sun was HOT!  It was very similar to an expo with tents and booths.  We saw Elizabeth running towards us, she made the exchange to Brian and Van 1 was off! 
I was runner 9, so I knew I still had a little bit of time before my run.  We took off in the van to meet Brian at the next exchange so he could hand off to Vieve.  Once Vieve was off and running, I knew it was almost my turn.  I was getting very nervous!  Not only had I never done a Ragnar before and wasn't quite sure what to expect, I also had a very difficult leg as my very first leg.  Check out that elevation profile!  Total elevation gain 2064ft in 7.8 miles!  Basically, I ran up the auto road to get people to Snow Basin ski resort. 

And I am off on my mega hill! 
I could not get my Garmin to start properly and kept trying, trying and trying.  So I had to run the leg mostly blind.  I made guesses as to how far along I was and tried to keep the team updated every once and a while by text.   At about a mile and a half up, I stopped to take this picture.  It was just too pretty not to! 

Taking in the views!

It just kept going up!

Along, the auto road, I only encountered 8 other runners.  4 that I passed, "kills" and 4 that passed me.  Some sections were so steep, that it was faster to power walk and I actually made a kill while power walking past a runner!  The views were beautiful and it was very serene.  It was nice because the road had been closed to race traffic, so I also only encountered two vehicles along the way.   I finished my leg and survived! Little did I know, it would turn out to be my favorite leg of the race.

Once I finished, George took off and we drove to a spot to pull off and cheer him on.  At this point, it was getting dark and starting to get very cold.  What an extreme from the heat we had experienced earlier in the day!  We finished up our legs and headed to meet Van 1 for the exchange.  Now that Van 1 was off we would have some time to rest! 

But of course, rest is relative because how are you really supposed to rest in a suburban with 6 other people?  I tried, but I just couldn't sleep.  I ended up getting out and going to the Elevated Legs tent that was using air compression leg pillows to massage runners' legs.  I happily paid the $25 for unlimited squeezes and hoped in the recliner!  Vieve and I stayed there for 40 minutes and it was amazing.  Van 1 let us know they were getting close, so we geared up for being on again.  We were in the early morning hours at this point 3am, and it was still very dark.  Elizabeth handed off to Brian who ran his leg, who handed off to Vieve to go run her leg. 
My next leg was my easiest and shortest, so I was not very worried.  It was also approaching sunrise, so the fear I had had about running in the dark and getting lost dissipated.  At this point, I am sure it was a combination of lack of sleep, altitude and not a lot of real food, but I was feeling very hungover and my stomach was wonky!  As I waited the ten minutes at the exchange zone for Vieve to arrive I made a mad dash to the porta-potties twice!  Ugh.    This next leg would take me along the road and then onto a trail.  I was hoping I would get to catch my team drive by me on this leg, and I heard them cheering for me, right as I turned onto the trail.  We just barely caught each other!  Since my first leg was unassisted, meaning no van support, I hadn't gotten to experience my team driving by cheering yet!  It was fun!  Once again, run it blind without GPS, but could see the exchange ahead and picked up speed for the hand off.  Four kills on that leg!  Wahoo! 

Handing off to George at sunrise! 

After George ran, then Jeremy, then Mindy.  Mindy was the runner to pass off to Van 1 again, so that gave us some time to take a break and go get breakfast.  We headed to the Starbucks in Park City, Utah to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.  Then we headed to the major van exchange to wait for Van 1 to hand off to us.  We had some time to relax and found a comfy spot in the shaded grass.   We kept looking at the mountains and knowing Brian was going to have to run up it and Vieve and I would be splitting the way down.   I love how they classified my next leg as MODERATE.  There was nothing moderate about it.  It was a very steep downhill and was hard on the legs.  But, it was also very hot with no shade.  The lower in elevation I got, the hotter it got.  By the time I got to the flat at the end of the leg, I was feeling almost dizzy.  I shared my water with another runner who was really feeling it.  The flat was almost harder because at that point, my legs did not want to switch modes and I felt a lack of power in my quads.  Since I had no GPS, I didn't know how much further we had to go.  I asked another runner if she knew and she also wasn't wearing a watch.  We spotted a sign up in the distance and both commented that we hoped that was the "1 Mile To Go" sign.  Ragnar doesn't mark the miles of the legs, but will usually just give a one mile to go.  The girl commented, "If that is not the 1 mile to go sign, I will scream".  I laughed and kept going.  I passed the sign and it didn't say, 1 mile to go, it just gave an arrow....what a let down.  Then about a minute later from behind me I heared, "For the love of God!"..... ha ha....she stayed true to her word and really did scream!  Love it. 
I handed off to George, who handed off to Jeremy and then to Mindy.  Once Mindy was off we knew it was time to make it to the finish line.  We got a little lost on the way to the finish line because we entered the GPS coordinates into our GPS that were given to us by Ragnar.  Problem was the finish line was somewhere else last year and I don't think Ragnar updated the GPS coordinates, so we ended up at an entirely different location and missed Mindy finish.  When we finally did arrive at the real finish line, we got the whole time together and staged our finish line crossing! 

We did it!  Team Nuuniacs, Ragnar Wasatch Back 2015. 

The backs of our medals fit together like a puzzle.

One of the best parts of the finish line to me, is the celebratory beer at the end.  We were all tired and wanted to head back to the hotel, but Mindy and I really wanted our beer.  We convinced everyone to stay so that we could enjoy it only to get to the beer garden and realize they were $5.  The worker said, "Yup this is Utah.  We can't give away free beer."  Wow!  So we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed a pizza and beer feast in the hotel dining area then headed to bed as were all completely wiped. 

Now, that I am home and can reflect on the experience, it is definitely one of the hardest but also one of the most fun things I have done.  In the throws of that last miserable leg where I was feeling sore, tired, exhausted and almost heat strokey I told myself I didn't think I would do a Ragnar again.  But, now in reflection....I totally would.  I just could not beat the experience of being on Team Nuun.  What an amazing company, amazing product with amazing employees that made us feel like rockstars.  Hey Nuun, when is the next one? :-)

Did you run this race?  Comment below with your experience or link up your race recap!  Have you done a different Ragnar Relay?  Share below! 


  1. CONGRATS! You are making me want to do a Ragnar race! What a great team to run with, and love the van! Also, Utah looks beautiful to run in. Let's do the one in Maryland-DC!

  2. Congrats that sounds so fun! Nuun is such a great group of people! I can imagine the heat was awful but way to power through!

  3. Gosh darn it, now I want to do a Ragnar!!! How fun!!

  4. awesome work - congrats! you are still doing DC, right? :)

  5. Congrats on what sounds like a very tough race. I'm not sure I would have the courage to join one of these teams due to the dark runs. I would be way too scared to run solo during the night!

  6. This looks awesome! I was following your adventure on Instagram - some insane elevation changes!

  7. I did Ragnar DC last year and can't wait for October to do it again! This one sounds tough!

  8. Way to go, especially with such hot temps and high altitude!! I do Reach the Beach/Ragnar in New Hampshire every year, it's so much fun!

  9. Sounds like a beautiful place to run! I love Ragnar. It's a one of a kind experience for sure isn't it? I always find it hard to write about