Ragnar Relay 2014 [Cumberland to National Harbor, 199 miles]:
What the Hell’o is a Ragnar?
Ragnar is a relay race that goes all day and all night over the course of two days. It is made up of a team of 12 bad azzes (in our case we had two teams….24 bad azzes), where each team member runs three legs of the relay race totaling up to about 200 miles. Running RagnarDC was one of the most exciting things I have ever done. And yes, YES, I would do it again!!! I really enjoyed being apart of a team and meeting new people. The memories from RagnarDC and friendships that I have made will be REMEMBERED FOREVER. I think I’m still on a runner’s high!!!!
Operating on little to no sleep, one shower, being stuck in a van with stinky clothes for 38 hours, the LiveNow Fitness (LNF) teams I and II came, connected and conquered almost 200 miles running from Cumberland to the National Harbor on September 12 -13, 2014. Hills will never be looked at the same way again. RagnarDC welcomed the crew to hills on top of hills, running in the complete darkness, running in the pouring rain and let us not forget the lions, tigers and bears…..OH MY what a GREAT EXPERIENCE….Team LiveNow was RAGNARDC Ready!!!!
Why RagnarDC? Why not?
Back in April, I received an invite from my good friend/sistah LaTosha to run RagnarDC with the LiveNow Fitness (LNF) family. As a runner, I am constantly pursuing the next big running high. I figured I would get just that running RagnarDC!!! So, never backing down from an invite or challenge, I agreed immediately!!! Man what was I getting myself into?
I was placed on the LNF Team 2 Van 2!!!! What an amazing group of women. Three out of six of us traveled up from South Carolina and the rest of the team was from the MD area. I was so excited to run this relay with my girl LaTosha and my Black Girls Run (BGR) Columbia member, Shalama!!!!!
The day before the race we all staggered into the parking lot of the LiveNow Fitness (LNF) lab.
While there we met other team members and began decorating our passenger vans. Eboni W. handled the drawing for our van…she did an excellent job. Of course we were right there to lend a helping hand and our two cents :).
Packed and loaded, Team2Van2 was ready to rock ‘n’ roll (Eboni G. met us in Cumberland later that evening). A big shout out to Tosha, our team captain, for getting us to Cumberland safe and sound.
Once all the teams arrived in Cumberland, everyone headed over to Giuseppe’s for the LNF team dinner. Only three members from Team2Van2 showed up to partake in breaking of the bread and a few sips of wine (some more sips than others) with other team members of LNF. Since it was so late, other members wanted to workout or get their rest on….(Eboni W. is a beast and very focused about her workout game, Tamala had just driven from NYC and was tired and Eboni G. was on her way to Cumberland).
Here the three of us (T2V2) are LAUGHING with other team members.
Dinner was great…conversations flowing smoothly (just like the wine). Shalama and LaTosha were getting to know one other. Eric filled us in on the bear sign he passed while driving up to Cumberland. Talking about being scared out of my mind. All I kept thinking about the entire dinner was lions, tigers and bears…oh my.
Tosha just thought it was the funniest thing ever.
After dinner GROUP PIC: We were LNF teams I & II ready for RagnarDC…..
After dinner Team2Van2 headed to the store to pick up some last minutes supplies (HUMMUS!!!). Arriving back at the hotel around 10 pm, all teams went their separate ways. Since we were Team2Van2, we were projected to start at 11:44 am, which allowed us to get in a few extra zzz’s. Despite my nervous stomach (I’m always nervous before a run), I did manage to get in a couple hours of sleep.
Team2Van1 started the relay off at 5:00 am, running from the town of Cumberland. The rest of the runners headed east through the historic towns, rugged forest trails and scenic paths. Runners from Team2Van2 were up and out at 9:15 am, we took a few team photos before hitting the road to exchange 6 at the Little Orleans Campground.
Exchange 6 was one of the exchanges where both vans from Team 2 would meet up. Since I was Runner 7, I was first up to run on my team. Angie, from Team2Van1, was on her way to hand me the torch (or in this case the Ragnar slap bracelet). Several of us were waiting on the side ready to show Angie some LNF love and support. I believe we were the loudest of all the other teams present :).
I got started around 12:30 pm. My first leg was a very long and unforgiving HILL. The leg description read as though the first 4.5 miles were all uphill…lies I tell you!!!! But I was very excited. Here I was starting our team off on our very first Ragnar Experience.
My entire leg seemed like an uphill battle………oohh well we came, connected and conquered (I’m sure that’s not the saying but close enough LOL). I did my thang on those hills!!! I’m so thankful that my teammates were able to support me on this run. Seeing my team as I came running up that mountain of a hill made me push even that much harder. Yay Team2!!! Surprisingly other teams were very supportive as well. One van passed by and handed me a water (I thought I was about to die, so I’m sure I was looking like I needed water). Other vans drove by honking their horns and cheering ‘YOU ROCK’, ‘DON’T STOP YOU GOT THIS’. Even the runners were supportive. My very first kill, the dude just held up his hands as if he surrendered and chanted ‘good job’, man that was an awesome feeling. I wanted more. My first leg I think I had about five kills. Kills are when you pass a runner during your leg. Always go for the KILL!!!
Seeing the ‘one mile to go’ sign really really made my day….
I figured I had about 9 minutes or less to go before passing the Ragnar Slap bracelet to Tosha…..Now I can be the cheerleader and take a much needed break after those hills!!!!
If you look out in the background of the picture you will see what Tosha has in store for her during her run…..I thought my race was hilly….Tosha had hills on top of hills times a thousand….shoot more like mountains on top of mountains for ALL of her legs….but again she handled it like a BEAST!!! I want to be just like Tosha when I grow up!!!
Tosha had the second most difficult leg on the entire course with no van support. The total elevation gain for her leg was 1,000 plus. But she handled it like a real ‘G’ and killed that hill!!! Go TOSHA!!!!
Next up for Team2Van2 was Tamala. The RagMag said her course was moderate but according to Tamala…there was no such thing. Tamala’s leg was another leg that didn’t have van support. So we had to wait for her at the next exchange. She encountered many rolling hills on her course but tackled them head on with a vengeance. Great job Tamala!!!!
Tamala came into exchange 9 guns barring (if she was tired we couldn’t tell). And of course we were there to cheer her on and show mad support for her finishing her leg. Pictured below is Tamala handing the Ragnar slap bracelet to our next runner, Shalama.
Shalama was so so ready for her leg. It was a moderate leg (according to Ragnar) on the Western Maryland Rail Trail. Here we have another leg that offers no van support. So, off to the exchange we go to meet her and cheer her in. And cheer we did….again I think we were the loudest folks out there!!!
Eboni W. is up next….she picked up on the Western Maryland Rail Trail that Shalama had just ran. Her leg was also a no van support leg (go figure…are we ever going to get to cheer along side the road again)….Of course Eboni finished her run in record timing…..she really helped close the gap between us and Team2Van1…..
While waiting for Eboni W, we were able to take in the sites at the Fort Frederick State Park.
Last but certainly not least we have Eboni G. Eboni G. was born ready for Ragnar. Eboni G’s leg had her running us in to the Clear Springs High School Exchange (can you say SHOWERS!!!!). Once again this leg had no van support so we had to meet her at the exchange.
With this being a major exchange, Clear Springs High School, we met up with Team2Van1 to cheer Eboni G on!!! Here Eboni G. hands the Ragnar slap bracelet off to Grace, from Van1.
NOW Team2Van2 can take a much needed break and SHOWER!!! After showers we headed to our next major exchange,South Mountain Creamery. We made a pit stop at Subway for some runners (even though they wanted Chic-fil-A :)), some runners were smart and brought their own food with them (this is what I will do next Ragnar (yes NEXT ;)) and others wanted to wait until we got to the exchange to eat (MAJOR FAIL). The menu consisted of fried EVERYTHING…..David sure looked like he enjoyed his meal and dessert.
We had about three or more hours before our next legs began. Can you say SHUT EYE!!!! I think I was able to get in a few minutes of sleep. Truth be told I was a little worried about running in the dark in unfamiliar territory….all I kept thinking was lions, tigers, bears, oh my, wolves, children of the corn….man you name it…..SCAREDY CAT!!!!
We went to work on more hills, some running in the rain, corn fields and narrow trails in the pitch dark. Team2Van2 handled their business on legs 19-24!!! I have never been so proud to run with a great group of women. We held it down!!!
I can’t forget to give a shout out to our driver, David Girton, founder of LNF.
David joined us at Exchange 6 and graciously volunteered to drive us for the remainder of our first leg (somehow he stayed a little longer than he/we set out…but he was very much welcomed and appreciated). He did have one condition if he was to take over driving: full control over the music. Tosha and I were hipped to David’s music game so we knew it was a win win for everyone!!! Having a driver freed us up from having to navigate from exchange to exchange (especially after a run). David was our honorary 7th teammate!!! He even did burpees after every one of our legs…..BEAST!!!
Man our last legs of the relay were quite an experience. As T2V1 came into the exchange we knew we still had a chance to get to the finish line within the allotted amount of time. I was up first….OMG….where are the Ragnar signs pointing the way to the next meeting point? I only had 2 miles to run (and you know I was very happy about my last leg being only 2 miles)….but boy oh boy did I get lost running those two miles. I never did make it to the meeting point to slap the bracelet on Tosha. I was so disappointed. I felt as though I let my team down….dayum it was only 2 miles…… I called the team and Ragnar let Tosha run without me handing her the bracelet (that was GREAT)….the team found me and we were off to meet Tosha. I met Tosha at the bottom of the hill and handed her the slap bracelet so she could pass it off to Tam Dee. Tam Dee got lost on her route (along with other Ragnar members…we pointed one girl in the right direction). Shalama’s up next….of course she was keeping us updated via phone at every mile. Shalama cramped up really bad on her last leg but kept running despite the pain. She did not want to let her team down and she didn’t. Shalama finished strong!!!! Next to hit the pavement was Eboni W. We still have time to make it to the finish. Eboni W. ran her heart out. She got to us in a record amount of time and handed the slap bracelet off to Eboni G. Eboni G. was off on the last leg of the relay. Again where are the Ragnar signs to help bring her into the finish? Eboni G. got lost on her leg but was determined to make it to us at the finish line.
I think we just made it to the finish in time….and we ran in together as a TEAM!!!!
RagnarDC to me was like a big ol’ slumber party. Lots of laughter, shade (LBell to the sun), love and support. We were there for one another and that was a great feeling. I would run with these ladies again anytime. I’m looking forward to the next Ragnar….YOU IN?