Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ragnar Trail Relay Snowbasin

So, for those of you unfamiliar with what Ragnar is.  It's a company here in Utah that puts on relays, usually road relays, but they are venturing into trail relays as well.
One of my HUMR friends (Lindsay) works for Ragnar and got them to let her enter a team at no charge.  I originally wasn't on the team.  First, I didn't get picked in the team member drawing, second, because I had a race scheduled in Oregon that weekend.  Well, I backed out of the race in Oregon, and one of the team members injured his leg running El Vaquero Loco 50K the previous weekend, so I got tapped.  I was glad.
Here's the premise of the relay.  Eight team members (or four if you're an ultra team, we weren't), three different trail routes (red, green, yellow).  Each team member runs each route once.  It adds up to almost 15 miles per team member, or about 120 miles total.  Your start time is staggered so that you get a lot of teams finishing at around the same time.  Builds up the excitement level, at least that's the theory.
This trail relay was held on the trails at Snowbasin ski resort.  Snowbasin has a messload of trails that a lot of mountain bikers, hikers, and us trail runners use during the summer.  It's a great place to go to get out of the valley heat and get some serious vert if need be.
The main staging/start/finish/camping area was on the bunny slope near the main lodges.  This is nice and grassy, unless you were camped on the hillside, then you had some nice dry weeds as your campsite, not to mention rocks, dirt, and other teams around you.  Team HUMR was lucky, thanks to Lindsay, we scored VIP camping on the other side of the lodge, quiet, flat, soft green grass.  As you can tell, we're special.
We were scheduled to start at 3:30pm on Friday, so most of the team showed up by around 1:30pm to check in, get tents and canopies setup, get camp HUMR up and functional.  Then it was time to sit around and drink some beer.

Lindsay ready to start and us cheering her on
As our 3:30pm start time approached, the entire team (less Breein, because she had to show up fashionably late, actually, it was something about working) made our way to the start area.  Since there were several teams starting at 3:30pm, there were a bunch of people standing around.  They announced each team that was starting, and we tried our best to embarrass Lindsay, since she works for Ragnar and was our first runner.  We're pretty sure that she's never going to invite us on a Ragnar team again.
So, after Lindsay took off, the rest of us headed back to camp HUMR to hang out and drink some more beer.
Lindsay finishing her first run
So that's how it went.  A runner would go out, we would hang out until it was the next person's turn to go out.
My first time out I ran the yellow loop.  This was the longest loop, so I was kind of glad to get that one out of the way early.  It's 6.3 miles, of which 2.4 is uphill, right at the beginning.  After that, it pretty much just rolls along the hillside, then towards the end it's a screaming downhill.  Pretty cool.  Since this was a short race, I decided my strategy would be to work it as hard as I could, treat it like a 5K or 10K.  My goal was to not get passed by anyone wearing the same color wrist band while I was out there and to pass as many as I could.  Goal  accomplished, for the most part.  On the yellow loop, I got passed by one person wearing yellow, but I managed to pass 5-6 during my time out there.  Even though there were 100 teams, I didn't encounter that many people on the trails.  If you figure that there were only 100 people out there at a time spread across 15 miles of trails, there was plenty of room to not see anyone for long periods.  I really was hoping to go under one hour for this loop, but it was not to be.  I managed a 1:03:48, which I thought was pretty respectable given that there was 1000'+ of climbing involved.  My only regret of this loop was that I shouldn't have had the slice of pizza before I went out.  Yeah, not good.  Still, it didn't seem to slow me down any.
Dan finishing up one of his loops
So, after the yellow loop,  I had about seven hours of downtime.  Since it was dark shortly after I finished, I opted to try and get some rest.  Set up the cot, throw out the sleeping bag, hit the hay.  thank goodness we were in the VIP area, nice and quiet.
My next run was at about 3:30am.  This time it was the green loop.  This was the shortest loop of the three at 3.5 miles.  Aric rolled in, I took the bib and headed out.  I love it when someone else heads out at the same time as I do, bolts up the hill, then promptly dies when they hit the first flat.  Meanwhile, I just slowly motor on by.  Makes me feel all warm and happy.
Since the green loop was the shortest, I decided to push as hard as I could even though it was dark.  Usually when I run at night, it's during a 100 mile race and I'm usually doing a fair amount of walking by this point.  It was a bit different to actually run hard at night.  This  time, no one passed me and I passed several.  Most of the runners I passed acted as though they were afraid to run at night, that they might fall down and get hurt.
I managed to finish the green loop in just a hair over 40 minutes.  Not too bad for some night running.
Now I had another seven or so hours of downtime.  I did manage to sleep a couple more hours then got up.
Bj cooked everyone breakfast.  Sausage, pancakes, eggs, and coffee supplied by Ragnar.  Good stuff.

Bj cooking breakfast and Harrison just sitting around
And the race went on.  WE just kind of hung out at camp HUMR, chatting, enjoying the nice cool morning.  Every once in awhile we'd make the trek to the starting area to cheer on the transition to another runner.
My last loop was the red loop.  Supposedly this was the most difficult due to it having the most climb.  The distance was 4.8 with just under 1200' climb.  I knew from the others that all of the climb happened in the first 2.4 miles.  The climbing actually ended at 2.15 miles, followed by a little bit of flat, then a
Corey getting set to head out
screaming downhill to the finish.  Most of the downhill was on access roads so I didn't have to pay as much attention to my footing as normally would be the case.  I was actually running some sub 7's down this section (that's fast for me).  Only two people managed to pass me while I managed to catch quite a few.  Some looked pretty zombied from all of the running.  Some were running pretty tentative due to the steep downhill.  I ran on the ragged edge of control.  Fun, fun, fun.
PBR's in hand

And with that, I was done with my running.  Three sections, all ran as hard as I could.  Fun stuff.
Corey and Harrison rounding the final turn
The HUMR team managed to finish around 2:30pm with a final time of 22:58:52.  This was good enough for 6th place in the mixed open division (out of 69 teams). and good enough for 19th place overall (out of 106 teams).  So we made a pretty respectable showing.  I think it helps that we all run trails and ultras on a regular basis.  We're all used to running technical stuff, and used to running at night.  I think a lot of the other teams came from a road background.
Anyway, I had a great time hanging with some friends, getting a bit of running in, and engaging some ribald conversation and beer drinking.
Thanks to my teammates, Corey, Harrison, Bj, Aric, Breein, Dan, and our fearless leader Lindsay.  Also thanks to Ryan, our designated volunteer.  It was a good time.

Team HUMR after the race

Taking a celebratory drink

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