Ragnaring in the PNW
In Seattle, summer is Ragnar season. With the Northwest Passage Ragnar on July 13 and the Rainier Trail Ragnar on Aug 24 there are plenty of teams in the area training for one of these races. This year, I ran the Rainier Trail Ragnar with a team of Amazonian coworkers, some of whom ran the Northwest Passage Ragnar just a few weeks ago.
Some Ragnar races are road races that go from point-to-point over ~200 miles. The Northwest Passage Ragnar is that kind of race. Other Ragnar races are trail races that loop around on three different legs reaching between 110 and 130 miles total. This is the Rainier Trail Ragnar.
Trail Ragnars are shorter because trails are harder and take longer to run. They have sharper turns, steeper hills, slippery mud and hazardous rocks and roots to avoid. This difficulty is referred to as the technicality of the trail and the Rainier Trail Ragnar is one of the toughest Ragnar races due to the trail technicality and elevation changes.
While being the most difficult, this was also the most fun and rewarding Ragnar race I have run.
Ragnar Trail races include camping out at a central location where runners will start and finish. This is called Ragnar Village and includes all sorts of great activities like massages, food, movies, music, product giveaways and free hot chocolate and coffee (so crucial). Also, not being constantly on the move (as with a road race) allows you to hang out and have fun with other Ragnarians.
Most legs start and end at the same location within a handoff tent. This makes it easy for your team to find you and high-five when you get done or cheer as you head out for your next leg...
...which helps when you have big challenges ahead.
Elevation & Exhaustion
One of the Rainier Trail Ragnar legs has about 2800 ft of elevation gain, which equates to more than 4.5 Space Needles in height. Much of this trail was walked, and that's ok.
The biggest challenge is learning to run on tired legs with a tired soul. Running multiple runs with little sleep, sometimes running in the middle of the night, cold, alone and scared makes you dig deep to find emotional strength. At these points, just the comfort of a fire with other exhausted runners is all you need to keep going.
Once you make it to the top, you are intensely rewarded for all your pain and courage. The sun rises to a new day and there are nothing but downhills ahead. Time to fly down that mountain.
At the end, the whole team meets the last runner near the finish and runs across the finish line with them. Everyone gets a medal, and the medals can be put together to spell out a larger message.
The 2018 Rainier Trail Ragnar medals say:
We are Ragnarians. We believe...
Sleep is overrated.
Some legs don't last, but memories do.
Smores and adrenaline can get you through anything.
There is a badass inside all of us.
Together we ran Ragnar, together we can do anything.
Campfire makes the best cologne.
Sunsets are better when shared.
Mud and dirt are good for the soul.
To me, there aren't many greater words to live by.