The van won’t start.
It’s 7pm and we’re in a car park at Copper Mountain, the starting point for our Ragnar Relay. Unfortunately, the van that we’d hired from Hertz was dodgy to start with (a door that didn’t shut properly and a beeping broken sensor), so it came as no surprise really that it had died on us so early on.
Luckily, we were staying at Copper Mountain, so adjusted our dinner plans and after hours on the phone to Hertz, established that they would send a mechanic in the morning. The truck was towed, and whilst Van 1 set off on their first legs, we (van 2), waited for a new van.
Around 2pm we got a call… the tow truck sent to take our van back had broken down.
Seriously, you couldn’t make this up!
Thankfully van 1 had returned to the start point which was also the runner 6 to 7 handover, so they were able to take Amanda, runner 2, to her starting point while the rest of us waited for a replacement 7 seater car. We hot footed it to Vail Pass, the highest point in any Ragnar relay in the US and watched Amanda take on her 9 mile downhill leg.
I took the bracelet from Amanda and headed off for my 7 mile run along the Vail bike path. It was gorgeous but wow the 8000ft elevation was tough. I found it hard to maintain a good pace with the lack of oxygen and watched as multiple people (locals, I hope!) passed me! Despite the difficulty, I loved it. Especially running through Vail and having people eating their dinner cheer me on (I really want to go back to Vail to ski!).
Our stomachs had been playing up… (you know runners talk about poop) so I was really grateful to do the handover to Aimee and hit the portaloo.
Our 6 runners finished by 10pmish, and we were lucky to have Heather’s condo nearby to shower and get some shut eye (my Garmin said that I slept for a solid 4 minutes!)
Next up were our night legs. Just as we were waiting for Lisa to handover to Amanda, there was an announcement that they had been chasing away a Mountain Lion recently in the area. This was on top of the black bears that were spotted in at other points along the route! These just to added to my fear when my headlamp went out 4 miles in to my 8 mile night leg…. Luckily there was a girl about 200m ahead who I sprinted up to and asked if I could run with her. She was a really lovely runner called Shelby, from Utah, and we chatted running, podcasts (including our obsession with Murder podcasts and ‘my favourite murder’ – probably not the best thing to do when you’re running in the dark along a river in the middle of Colorado. Especially when we ran past an car park with one car in. It didn’t help that the route was actually 8.5 miles…but we had fun chatting!
A couple of the girls were really freaked out about running in the dark, however after spending HUNDREDS of pitch black mornings running in Henley and London, it didn’t phase me!
Tara got to run through the canyon just as the sun was rising – and boy was she fast! She flew past everyone that had overtaken me during my run!
At 6am we handed back over to Van 1, made a quick Pitt stop at Starbucks and headed back to our final changeover point. There was a gym that we could sleep in (which we took full advantage of).
Our final legs were HOT. It was close to 30* and I was really glad that my 3rd run was my shortest at 3.5 miles. It was the flattest, shortest but also my slowest!
A couple of the others didn’t get off so lightly… Aimee had what is known as the ‘Ragnar Leg’ – this is always the hardest of the day and earns an extra medal. Aimee’s was all uphill and 9.5 miles. Similarly, Danielle, who doesn’t run trails, had to navigate 9,5 miles of trails in the afternoon sun and she struggled but finished like an absolute champ!
We all had an amazing weekend – my only real complaint was that we didn’t get to spend more time with van 1 who all were such lovely ladies! That…and I wish I’d spent slightly less time thinking about emergency bathroom situations!
I loved Ragnar, and although I was invited to join a team for the UK Ragnar, I’m doing my Personal Training course every weekend in Sept/Oct (read more about training to be a PT here if you missed the blog). In typical post run fashion, we had already started googling the next Ragnar before we’d even finished the last one…I have to say the Washington DC race is rather appealing!