Last weekend I completed my final relay race of the year, Ragnar Adirondacks. I wanted to earn the Docks & Dacks double medal, which is given to anyone who runs both Ragnar Cape Cod and Ragnar Adirondacks. It took a while to find the right team. Several months ago I connected with a group, but then it appeared I would have a conflict and not be able to run, so I had to drop out. Later, the conflict was cleared, and I connected with a group of funny, irreverent runners from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. This motley crew ended up settling on Orange is the new ‘Dacks as our team name (after the TV show Orange is the new Black, a prison drama/comedy).
I made this graphic for the magnets we used to tag other vans at Ragnar:
If you’ve never heard of Ragnar before, I’m getting ahead of myself. This is a 200-ish mile relay, run by teams of (usually) 12 runners. I’ve written about it before on this blog, and write for Ragnar’s blog occasionally as well. The race is split into 36 legs, and each person runs three of them. You decorate your vans, and teams will typically “tag” each other’s vans by leaving magnets on the back. We also mark our legs on the side of the van and check ’em off as we run them. We got started very early on Friday; here we are at the start of the race, which for us was 6:15 AM. It was dark enough that runner one had to wear a reflective vest, headlamp, and a blinking tail light for safety (we run on open roads, so visibility is key).
We actually didn’t have vans for this Ragnar. I was in “van 2,” and we rolled in a Nissan Armada. Note to future Ragnar runners: vans are better. We were pretty cramped in there with all of our gear… but there was still room for Pedro the Goat.
Here’s a group selfie for van 2; we were short one runner, so there were only five us us. The group is JJ, Jamie, Tawny, Becky, then yours truly.
Why the prison garb? Well, you already know what we were named after. I wrote a post on Blognar where I talked about how to maximize your Ragnar experience, and made a comment about orange jumpsuits. Once that was out there, we decided to dress up, which was lots of fun. We didn’t actually run in our orange, but we did pose for lots of pictures. Like this one, taken during leg 7 while Tawn was out running her first leg. We drove past these troopers directing traffic, and they were happy to take a break to pose with us.
Here is Tawn marking off her first leg. She and JJ were both first time Ragnar runners, and they both totally crushed it.
I was the anchor runner, so even though our team started early on Friday, I didn’t run until about 3 in the afternoon. It was a beautiful trail/path that went from Queensbury to Lake George. New York is beautiful in September. Lame photo, but I wasn’t really pausing… snap and run. I think the pause lasted one second.
Along the same trail system, here’s a guy who passed me almost right after we started running leg 12. I was passed by three runners, actually, but this one I was able to keep up with while the other two pulled away. I took this while I was running, so it’s blurry, but I still like it, so you get to see it. Also, I get to mention that I kept him in sight and passed him before my leg was over. Small victories… 🙂
After that, it was time for a late lunch on the shore of Lake George. The Ragnar course was supposed to be behind the restaurant, but a couple runners must have taken a wrong turn as they went right by our table.
Here’s a shot of JJ as we’re driving from transition area 12 to transition area 18 along the shores of Lake George:
What’s a transition area? That’s where one runner comes in at the end of his/her run, and hands off to the next runner. Here you can see people cheering on the left side of the photo, and the transition area is on the opposite side of the road. Bonus, you can see a runner and his safety officer crossing the road, bright orange flags held high to help make them more visible.
I didn’t try to take pictures of my night run, which was just west of Lake Champlaign, on the New York/Vermont border. I ran 4.5 miles at night, and as always, it was magical. We had a nearly full moon, and there were a couple times when I turned my forward lamps off so I could enjoy chasing my shadow (that’s how bright the moon was). Amazing and wonderful. This was when I ran my extra leg; I had a short 2.9 miles scheduled, and picked up the leg before, which was also short. Any time I can run extra at night, I’m in.
When I came off the road, it was 2:45 AM. We drove up the course about 30 miles to to transition area 30, where I paid $5 to take a shower and sleep in a dark room at a school, then eat three pancakes when we got up at 6:00 to get ready to take over for van 1. Some of our van slept in the truck, but I was glad to sleep inside. It was cold that night!
Here’s a view from one of the transition areas Saturday morning. Not a bad way to start the day! Lots of runners took the opportunity to do some sunrise yoga. Perfect setting.
We were getting close to the end of our relay when we passed White Face Mountain, where downhill skiing events were held for the Lake Placid Olympic Games.
…and then it was time to run the last leg. I got the chance to run past streams with fly fishermen:
Run uphill several hundred feet chasing strong runners:
And finally, enter Lake Placid. Note to self, running backwards to take a selfie, you better know where the guard rail is!
I finished my final leg of 7.87 miles in 1:12:48, 9:15 per mile. Not quite as strong as last week’s Reach the Beach, but pretty good considering how steep that leg was and back-to-back 200 mile relays. Another awesome time running a Ragnar. We picked up our medals and posed for a team picture.
The back of the medals speak to what an accomplishment this is. “Together we ran 200(ish) miles.”
It was time for a beer with the crew. I took this using the iPhone’s panorama feature, so not every face is perfect. 🙂
Here’s our truck at the end of the race (with JJ rocking his Ragnar medal on the left side of the image):
…and last, Becky wanted a picture of a cop eating a donut. So she bought Jamie a donut. He was happy to eat it, I think.
I don’t know if I’ll run Ragnar Adirondacks (AKA Ragnar ADK and Ragnar ‘Dacks) again. My first love is Reach the Beach, and these races are back-to-back. Turns out, that’s hard. I’m actually writing this post with a cold that I’m trying to keep from morphing into pneumonia, as I got sick after getting home from this race. I don’t blame the race, but I was pretty tired afterwards.
From left to right:
- Reach the Beach 2014
- Hardest leg medal, Cape Cod
- Cape Cod
- Ragnar Trail New England
- “Overboard” double race medal, awarded to anyone who runs Cape Cod and Reach the Beach in the same year
- Reach the Beach 2015 (it shrunk!)
- Ragnar Adirondacks
- Docks and Dacks double race medal, awarded to anyone who ran Cape Cod and Ragnar Adirondacks in 2015. Alas, this medal has now been retired, so if you don’t already have one, you won’t be able to get one.
- The little white piece that looks like 3D glasses between 6 & 7 is a medal connector; I can use that to connect Cape Cod and Adirondacks (there are tiny holes at the bottom of those medals) to make one huge medal.
I did the math on this, and those medals involve me running with 46 other people. Not many repeats there. To each and every one of you who have been part of my relay experience, THANK YOU. It’s been so much fun to go out and run with you. Thanks so much.