This past weekend we did the first event as an organized team for Robin Hood Endurance - the Ragnar Relay New York. For those of you that haven't heard of the Ragnar or any of these other 24-hour races, it's a team relay race. 12 members of each team take turns running legs between 2-10 miles long, three times, covering a total of 200 miles. You put 6 people in each van, and the vans take turns shuttling runners to each exchange station and trying to sneak in a couple minutes of sleep.
This is the course map, going from one unexciting but historic town to another unexciting and non-historic town.
I tried handing off my leg (#7) to the rest of the team but no one was willing to take it for some strange reason... It may have to do with the fact that it was the longest (at 23.5 total miles) and that the first leg might as well be called the quad-crusher:
As a team we started at 2pm, the latest start time possible (Ragnar staggers the start time so that the fastest teams run last. The first teams set off at 7 in the morning, bless their hearts). By the time it was our van's turn to run, it was already pretty clear who the contenders for the podium were going to be. There was the North American Distance Squad, shortened to... you get it, which consisted of a group of college guys who were ticking off 6:10 miles like it's their jobs. There was this team that had something to do with Road Hogs, and there was us, a well-oiled, wind-tunnel-refined, ridiculously good looking group of guys armed with a very poor sense sense of direction. We lost 25 minutes the first time someone got lost, another couple of minutes the second. Despite that we managed to close the gap with the second team to within 2 minutes by the time night fell.
Unfortunately, that was as close as we were going to get. Although we put up a valiant effort, it just wasn't meant to be, as these Road Hogs kept slowly slipping away. We ended up finishing 3rd, with a very respectable time of 21 hours and 43 minutes, averaging out to a 6:36 mile pace.
It is always weird to explain the next day at work when people ask if the event was fun or not. Running 20 miles, with no sleep, stuck in a sweaty van with six guys... Yes. Yes, I guess it was. Good work team.
Here are some takeaways from the race:
- Rent a 15-person van. And get all-inclusive no-premium insurance. The guy at the rental office may think he's just made quite a commission, but he hasn't seen you drive at 5am with no sleep after running two 10-Ks.
- Prosciutto takes surprisingly good as a standalone running food. You wouldn't think it, but when that salty, fatty goodness melts in your mouth at midnight, you will thank me. Mmm, fancy bacon....
- If you're in a faster team, the port-a-potties get cleaner as the race progresses. If you're in a slower team, they get worse. Plan which legs you run based on this crucial insight.
- The awards ceremony is all screwed up. The winners finished by 11am. No one is going to stick around until an 8pm awards presentation after running through the night. That's just mean.
- Pay attention to the signs.
- No, literally. The signs