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What kind of sick, twisted humans consider a 200-mile, 24-hour-plus relay race in which you’re either running at full speed or stuck in a cramped van “fun”?
Runners, of course! This sums up the overnight running party otherwise known as Ragnar Relay. I was lucky enough to take part in the Ragnar Florida Keys event last weekend, and let me tell you from one runner to another: It was a total blast.
The race started in Miami and ended in Key West. If you’ve ever driven from Miami International to the Keys, you know that this trek is no joke. It takes 3.5 hours to get there by car. In the Ragnar Relay, you cover the distance on foot with one team member running at all times (each runner completes three legs). Ragnar allows you to choose a six-person “ultra” team or a 12-person team. As part of a 12-person “normie” team, I thought the going would be a piece of cake. About that. . .
We left the starting line at 1 p.m. and were off and running. Soon our runner at the first exchange point, 5 miles in. Only 195 more to go!
While I completed a little over 2.5 hours of running in total, most of the time is spent in the van, waiting for other runners to finish their legs. This is where the real fun happens. Our team pumped up the jams and got to know one another, while stopping to support our runners with water and Clif Shots. Here’s a teammate and me chilling out before hopping back inside.
My first leg was 8.9 miles. It felt long! I couldn’t imagine racing two more times before the run was over. Luckily, we stopped for some Subway to refuel. I was so hungry that I ate the two cookies that came with my meal before the sub was ready.
Some of my other teammates ran a spooky, fun leg through the Everglades. We didn’t spot any alligators, but we did see a few constellations—the stars were so bright and beautiful.
After another 7.9 miles and 50 minutes sleep for me, the sun started to rise. The teams begin the race in a staggered start, and by this time we were catching up to each other. Seeing other teams’ vans and costumes in the daylight was hilarious. I spotted a six-foot tall guy wearing only a metallic thong and a van with a faux wedding cake on the roof rack. Half our team sported Flash underwear. Love it!
After finishing my last leg, a mercifully short 4.1 miles, I was done. While we waited for the second van to finish up, the first van checked in at the hotel. Three words: Best. Shower. Ever. We waited at the finish line for our last runner to come through and ran with him to the end as the announcer belted out “You are Ragnar finishers!”
That night, we were tired and sore, but we all had huge smiles. . .
Have you ever raced a long-distance relay? If not, would you? Do you have any extra spots on your team? 😉