I haven't run the last three Ragnar trail races that are held here in AZ at McDowell Mountain Park. Mostly for health reasons. But I've been training pretty regularly this year and felt pretty good, so I decided to jump on a team at the last minute. I saw a couple of teams that had posted on the even Facebook page that they were looking for runners, and I messaged them both. One never responded. The other responded right away. Turns out they were one of the many RWB teams that ran this year. This group was out of Sierra Vista, AZ. They had three teams. I kind of knew one of the team members as she was also a Ragnar ambassador. So, they were all mostly veterans, and I'm a mere civilian. But I've found that as I've attended various RWB events over the years, they are some of the most genuine and nice people. They welcomed me with open arms, and I had a good time.
We had a pretty slow team, and we were slotted to start with the very first group that started at 9:30am. I was runner #5 and it was 1:36pm when I started my first leg. I had to run the yellow loop, which in my opinion is the hardest loop. It's listed as 4.7 miles, and it has the steepest climbs. If you haven't trained on running hills, this loop will get you. Luckily I had done some hill training last week, and I really feel like it helped me. However, even though it's November, it was stinkin' hot out! It must've been in the high 80's. I knew I would need to take it nice and easy so that I would have some energy left to run my remaining legs. I was running at a nice relaxed pace, and I was surprised at the number of people I was passing. That hasn't happened for me in a while. I mean, I was passing A LOT of people. I didn't even think to count them. I got passed a fair amount of times myself, but I passed a lot more than people passing me. Anyway, the uphills and the downhills were steep. The first real steep downhill, I heard this weird noise like I had just stepped on a metal plate or something. I was quick to think, there are no metal plates in the desert. So I turned back and saw that my water bottle had fallen out of my pocket. I had to turn around and get it because there was no way I was going to run without water in this heat. The second time I ran down a steep hill the same thing happened. After that, I learned to take it out of my pocket and hold it until I reached the bottom. I was doing all right up until the third mile. Right around where the water station was. It took me a while to get going again. But when I did, I was able to run all the way back in. The yellow loop merges back with the red loop, and one of the red loop runners ran with me for the last three quarters of a mile. She asked me if I was camping or "glamping". I asked her what glamping meant. She says it's when you pay extra to have Ragnar set up and take down your tents. Glamour camping, I guess? I told her I was just camping. After a while she said I'll see you, and she picked up the pace. I was running right behind her. The green loop merges with the yellow and red about a quarter mile from the finish. Then you run up this hill to the finish line. Very cruel, Ragnar. I passed that girl on the uphill. I wasn't trying to purposely pass her, but I wanted to finish strong. According to my Strava, I ran 4.89 miles at an 11:27 pace. For the heat and the hills, I'll take it.
My next loop was the green loop, the easiest one. The green loop is 4.1 miles. Even though you actually climb to a higher elevation than the yellow loop, it's just one climb. So the overall elevation change is less than the yellow loop. It was 10:35pm when I started. Well, I was oblivious to the fact that there were runners leaving both ends of the tent to start their runs. The yellow runners leave one side of the tent, and the green and red runners leave the other side. Nobody told me, and apparently I'm too dumb to notice, so I ran the wrong way. I ran down the finishing hill, got to the bottom and asked the volunteer which way I was supposed to go. He said, "I think you're supposed to go out the other side of the tent." Whoopsie! So I ran back up the hill and was thinking, "If I cross the timing pad, I'm going to screw all of our times up." So I ran on the outside of the chutes and got back on the course. This added at least another 2 tenths of a mile to my overall distance. Since it was no longer hot out, I found myself running pretty well. Really the only thing slowing me down was the dark. I was once again passing tons of people. The red and green loop are the same for about the first mile. Then they finally split. I was listening to my teammates talk about their experience on each loop, and as I was running, I was really questioning when the hill was going to start. It was hard to see it in the dark, and it was very gradual. It did seem that I was running slower in that 2nd mile, so I figured I was running up it at that point. I knew that once I reached the two mile mark it would also be all downhill. I could once again feel myself running faster. I just wished that I could've run this leg in the early morning when I could see and when it wasn't hot. But anyway, I averaged a 10:13 pace for 4.43 miles.
My final leg was the red loop, the longest distance. It's listed as 6.6 miles. My Strava got 6.67, so pretty close. I was scheduled to start around 6am. Unfortunately, my team was way behind schedule, and I started at 8:11am. It was already starting to warm up. It wasn't terrible, and there was a breeze at first, but by the end I was feeling it. This time I decided to count how many people I passed. I don't like to call them 'kills' because sometimes people actually die. Anyway, my mind goes in a million different directions while I'm running so it's hard for me to remember what number I'm on. But I think the total was 20. I'm sure I passed a lot more than that on my first two runs. I was slowing down, because after three loops, I'm pretty tired. But I never stopped except just briefly at the water station to fill up my water bottle. The red loop had the highest climb. Immediately after the green and red loops split, you start the steepest part of the ascent. I was still feeling good, and had no problem going up. I also knew that once I reached the top there were some more ups and downs. This discouraged a lot of the runners, but that's why you've got to look at the map before you run. After 2.75 miles it starts going downhill. It's a nice trail, and you can pick up some speed, but this is where I started feeling fatigued. I wanted to walk at times, but I knew that I didn't need to, and if I just maintained the pace I was running, I wouldn't have to. There were a few more steep short hills that were heartbreakers, but I prided myself in being able to run up all of them. I finally got to the last hill before the finish and was able to sprint up it. I'm glad I decided to do the race.
On a side note, I used to be able to see a lot of people that I know at these types of races. But I think that there are just so many people that don't want to run Ragnars anymore, and so many new people that do. I saw two former teammates of mine, Elizabeth and Brian. I also saw Kelli and Scott. They were volunteering. Kelli used to be a prominent blogger, but she has since disabled her blog. Our team finished around 1:30pm. We took our picture and my wife picked me up at 2pm. I had her stop at Wendy's on the way home for a Frosty.