Monday, June 22, 2009

Ragnar Relay - Wasatch Mountains, Utah - Running

This past weekend I had the opportunity to run the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay - a 188 mile relay race from Logan, Utah to Park City, Utah. I've wanted to do this for years, but even more daunting than the race itself is the challenge of finding 11 other people willing to be stuck in a van for over 24 hours and run at all hours of the day and night. Some of Rob's coworkers at Primary Children's Hospital formed a team and asked me to be an alternate runner in case someone dropped out before the race. Fortunately for me, someone did, and I became an official member of the PICU De-stressors.

Each runner on the 12 person team runs three legs of the 188 mile course. After a runner is done with their first leg, the other 11 runners complete their legs and then the process starts all over again. After the first runner starts in Logan, someone from the team is always running (day and night) until the last runner reaches the finish line in Park City about one day later.

The legs vary in distance from 3 miles to 9 miles. Some legs are flat, some are downhill, and some are brutal ascents. The scenery is spectacular. People decorate their vans, wear crazy costumes, and cheer on other runners and their own teammates along the way. It's really a 188 mile party through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the Wasatch Range.

The start line in Logan, UT

The 12.30pm group (us) starts

Kaitlyn and Karla decorate the van

Kaitlyn starts us off in Logan, UT

Laurie finishing her first leg

Robert supporting Karla

Robert needs some water!

Tara running up Avon Pass

Waiting for Tara at the Avon Pass exchange

Finishing up my first leg

Tara, Laurie, and Karla at Avon Pass

nice run Tara *squirt*

Kaitlyn demonstrates the safety devices required for night runs

Kim finishes her leg at Snowbasin

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night

Brian and Tara

Van One: Me, Tara, Rob, Karla, Kaitlyn, Laurie

Finishing up my last leg in Heber

Cheering Robert and Karla

I thought the Wasatch Back would be an easy event compared to a marathon, but I was wrong. The steep hills made the legs challenging, and it's difficult to run again after sitting around for several hours getting stiff and sore. My 8 mile run up East Canyon at 2am was my favorite part - cool temperatures and the unique feeling of being alone, in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to see except the spot of light on the ground ahead of me from my headlamp. It was the run I had been dreading the most, but it ended up being the most memorable. It was great to share this experience with such a fun group of people - despite physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation, no one ever stopped smiling.

Our team at the finish line