Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ragnar Trail Zion: Adventurous Attitude Needed

Let me preface this entire post by saying I am was not a trail runner prior to heading to Southern Utah for Ragnar Trail Zion.  I had great looking trail shoes {because that's what's important, right!?}, but zero trail experience....

I'm guessing Megan wasn't aware that the last item on the packing list she sent out, an adventurous attitude, would be perhaps the most important and widely used item on the list.

Wind, rain, snow oh my...

Upon arriving in Utah, it's safe to say that Ross and Ned truly saved the day, providing Bry and I with all of the camping necessities from duffle bags to sleeping bags to camping toilet paper.  It if weren't for them, I would've shown up to camp like one of those girls, with my Vera Bradley duffle bag, etc. In my defense I knew they would be providing us with a bunch of the camping necessities, as its hard to pack everything in a carry-on when flying, but they went above and beyond...

...as evident by our camping set-up. 

5-Star, Saudi Arabia style accommodations

I love running, and I especially love relays! There are so many reasons why, but perhaps the most important is the friendships I have been blessed with through these crazy adventures.

I was so excited to be relaynited with Bry.

We arrived at camp, set up our tent right along the start of the yellow loop & near the fire pit, and started taking in the sites and scenes of Ragnar Trail, as we had over 3 hours until our start time.  I played the role of course commentator, noting everything from the wide array of running attire {everything from bootylicious shorts to denim daisy dukes}, the speed of the runners {for some reason people took off like a bat out of hell; pardon the language, but I can't think of a better way to describe it}, and the vast amount of injuries.  It was like the walking wounded...people being carried by their teammates with ace bandages AND braces on their ankles, knee wraps, oh and yes, a girl running with her arm in a sling! And THIS my friends is why I absolutely LOVE relays...everything goes!

As our start time approached, we braved the high speed wind gusts and headed over for our safety briefing and the ins & outs of how this trail relay stuff works! Once again, I was beyond impressed with the organization of the event.  It was almost time to start, and I would be runner #6, running the longest leg first, and then getting easier from there.  When Bry went to pick her legs I asked her to just put me down for one of them, I really didn't have a preference.  She picked runner #6 for me, with the longest leg first {in theory I would run it during daylight}, and then my distances would decrease with each run, and I would run the "haunted" leg during daylight the following day.  She truly was looking out for my best interest...

3:30 pm....Finally GO TIME

Rira led us off, followed by Catey and bambino, and then Megan.  They all rocked their legs. Everything was going well, and as seen by the pictures it was shorts and tank top weather...

Team NUUN showed up on the TV screen, meaning Bry was .2 miles out and then I was up. Into the exchange I went,  heading out for my run around 7:40pm, with really no clue what I was getting myself into.  Side note...I had way too much stuff to deal with at the exchange: handheld water bottle {while they had water along the course, it was a cupless event}, knuckle lights, spibelt, slap bracelet and the race belt with bib {everyone on the team wears the same belt/bib with a timing chip}. 

Once again, notice the outfit.

I finally got all of my stuff situated and was off.  The first 4 miles or so were great, I got into a groove and was really enjoying it.  I was surprised by the fact that I was basically running in sand, as if I was at the beach, but I felt great, including my breathing. I wasn't sure what to expect at 7,000 ft., especially since my allergies had been giving me trouble leading up to the relay.  

8:30pm hits, the sun goes down, and now its a whole new ballgame.  

My pace drastically slowed because I couldn't see, kept tripping, and was struggling with my footing. Several times I did the whole trip, flail my arms in hopes of catching my balance and not falling, and then hope no one saw me.  This went on for about 4 miles...I didn't fall, but my calves were killing me from the sand followed by the extremely uneven surface...it was almost like running on a washed out trail/utility road, with both sides slanting in, making it impossible to find any level surface to run on. But that's trail running, right!? Surprisingly,  I wasn't scared running at night, and finished the 8.2 miles with a smile on my face, ready for the next run.

Nighttime hours were upon us and we headed to the house where Ned's neighbor and his team were staying! Let me just say, this was a lifesaver.  We had some food, changed, and then curled up on the couch for a couple hours of sleep.  Around 2am we headed back to camp, surprised by the fact that the forecasted rain hadn't started.  We still had some time before it was Bry's turn to run, everyone was tucked away in their tents, so we curled up in our sleeping bags, just in time for the rain to show up.  It quickly went from a sprinkle to a downpour...

Bry headed out on her run, and Sean came to drop off her jacket and said it was like a mud skating rink out there; he fell 5 times! Umm...what!?!?

Well, now it's my turn.

My prior commentating of the yellow loop runners might've came back to bite me in the booty! I couldn't even get out of the campsite without slipping, flailing my arms, and falling.  After making my way through the camp ground I headed out on the trail, only to find people slipping & sliding, going into the splits, and hanging onto tree branches for dear life! About 2/3 of a mile in, after debating with myself for a while, I decided this was crazy and started heading back towards camp.  I passed two of the people I passed on the way out and let them know I was heading back and they were welcome to join me.  The guy contemplated it for a while, but decided to continue on as he didn't want to let his team down. I then ran into a lady who didn't want to go back, but appeared a little nervous about the entire situation so I said I would go with her and we would stay together.  The snow rolled in, people had branches they were using for walking sticks, our shoes had a couple inches of mud caked on them, volunteers were wrapping cold runners in mylar blankets, and 2 hours later we made our way into camp and towards the exchange.  As we ran by Alicia's camp her friends ran out, relieved to finally see her, and said something like, "F this, just come to camp, we're done!" With less than .2 miles to go, I grabbed her arm and said, "No way!! We have ran the entire way together and are SO CLOSE, we are going to finish!" And finish we did, and Alicia successfully completed all 3 loops.


I came into the exchange to see Sophia bundled up, fully clothed, with no intention of heading out on her 8 mile run; I was so relieved because the conditions were quite treacherous. The exchange was filled with bibs that teams had already turned in as they were pulling from the event.  We decided to have a team meeting in which we would discuss continuing, and at about the same time as we decided we were done, the race was called. 

Bry, Ned and I loaded up the car {which was conveniently close by as it was parked illegally in the drop-off/loading zone} as quick as we could, peeled out of there, and headed straight for a warm shower.  I was seriously so cold, that I jumped in Ned's car while they loaded the last of the stuff up and didn't even say goodbye to everyone; I felt horrible. 

Sometimes you just have to laugh, smile, and enjoy the memories being created.

A fire has never been more amazing.

This called for a team picture! {I was so thankful for the oversized jacket courtesy of Ross!}

I was beyond impressed with how the Ragnar staff handled the situation...quick to react and really looking at the best interest of the event and everyone involved.  Ironically enough, the girl with the least trail experience, ME, ended up running the most miles, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything! Memories were created that will last a lifetime and I think it's safe to say we all left with a smile.  While our time was cut short and I can't say that I fell in love with trail running, I will always remember the fun facts my teammates shared about themselves and be grateful that I was able to share this experience with each of them.

Sophia said it best, we reached our hardcore limit 

Bry, Ned and I ended the day having dinner with Vieve, laughing about our adventures and reminiscing about past #highNUUN experiences. The perfect end to the perfect storm.  

Will I run a Ragnar Trail Relay again!? I sure hope so! Will I run a trail race anytime soon!? I am signing up for a 10 mile trail run at the end of the month...


  1. Fun times, Holly! I used to hate trail running, but now it's my favorite! It's so fun to not know what's around the corner, and the soft trails are so much easier on my body! I'm glad you're a convert! I can't believe it started snowing all crazy and they stopped the race! Insane!

  2. It sounds like it was an adventure for sure! The weather seemed to make even more fun! I am so happy you're signing up for a 10 mile trail race-- I love trails-- would love to relay or do a race with you someday. xoxoxo

  3. Seriously one of the funner races I have done all things considered!! You will love your 10 mile trail race!! I promise. Trail running is amazing. Thanks for being a great teammate. And I am sure the team doesn't care we were out of the campsite "like a bat out of hell..."

  4. Okay, so maybe team #highnuun needs to do a trail race. I can't believe I am saying that after THIS race recap. But, if you guys are all becoming trail runners I guess I need to keep up ;) Thanks for making the drive to go to dinner. I don't get enough of you guys. You are fantastic!

    PS - I am nominating you for the Liebstar Award, a blogging award for inspirational bloggers. And if there is anyone that inspires me to have a more positive and go getter attitude it's you. Love you girlie! Check out my blog post to get the details on accepting: http://www.eagerviever.com/liebstar-award/

  5. What an adventure indeed!! I am glad you had fun even in seriously crazy conditions!!