Race Review – Ragnar Relay Del Sol

Tribe Team Too!
Race Review – Ragnar Relay Del Sol
Feb. 25-26, 2011
This past weekend we participated in Ragnar Relay Del Sol. Our triathlon shop, Tribe Multisport, put together two teams consisting of Tribe regulars – members of the triathlon team, bike teams, etc. One of the employees (Jake) organized everything – he put the teams together, set up the volunteers, rented the vans, collected the registration fees, got the community food, sent out emails, put together meetings – he made it so all we had to do was show up and run – Thanks Jake!

We had thought about doing this race last year – I (Mindy) was invited to be on a team but only knew one person and didn’t know much about the race or what to expect, so I passed on the opportunity. This year when we got the email from Tribe, I responded with a ‘yes’ right away. Kris still wasn’t sure about whether or not he wanted to do this race or if he could get the day off work.

Tribe Team Too! – Van 1

The first round of van assignments came out and I was listed as an alternate, but that didn’t last long. Within a week I was placed on a team and excited as I recognized a couple other names on that team from Tribe events – although I didn’t know anyone too well. My van was still in need of a driver so I quickly recruited a friend for the job.  About a week before the race, one of our runners had to drop out due to injury so Kris decided to give the race a shot and filled that spot.

As part of the preparation, runners have to give their approximate 10k pace. The race organizers then decide what time each team is going to start (in hopes of having people finish closer together). Slower teams started as early as 6:30am while the quicker teams started as late as 3pm. Both Tribe teams were slotted for 11am on Friday (Jake tried to even out the teams so we could start together and compete against one another). There were about 25 teams starting at this time.

Van 1 (us – the first 6 runners) met at Tribe at 8am and drove up to Wickenburg where we signed in and decorated the van. They held an information/safety meeting for the team and gave us our goodies, including the ‘Race Bible’. Kris then started us off as runner #1 at 11am.

Kris got our team off to a great start – finishing his first leg several minutes before the other Tribe team. That lead continued through my leg – I was runner #4 and was fortunate enough to follow 3 fast guys.

It was nice having a couple runners between Kris and I. It allowed us to help one another with recovery drinks and/or anything else we needed before or after our run.
Our team was very energetic and did a great job encouraging and supporting each other. We leapfrogged our runners, getting a couple miles ahead of them and stopping to cheer them on. It was always a party – in and on the van!

Van 2 left the shop around lunchtime and met us in Tonopah where we had our first van exchange (after runner #6). We then had a few hours to eat and sleep while they ran legs 7-12. We decided to get some dinner and opted for Macayo’s where we met up with the other Tribe team.
After dinner we headed to the next van exchange area (in Surprise) and tried to sleep a little while we waited for our next leg … not much sleep happened at this time as it was only 8pm.
Once we got the call that runner #12 was on her way, we got Kris ready for the hand off – yes, there is an actual hand off – each runner has to wear a reflective slap bracelet. As you approach the exchange, you take it off and slap it onto the next runner. This exchange is suppose to take place within a designated zone – apparently if you are out of the zone, your team will get a penalty (van 2 found out the hard way). After 3 penalties, your team will be disqualified.
This second leg is the toughest.  Van mates start falling asleep which means you don’t have as much support while you run. It’s dark which makes getting ready and finding things in the van a little tougher. Plus it starts getting colder. Despite all that, our team did a great job staying together and running hard!
When runner #6 was done we handed off to Van 2 again – around 2am. At this point, we were all ready to get some sleep! We drove to the next van exchange area and slept in the van. This was the nice part about having a 15-passenger van – although it is not the most comfortable, there is at least enough space for everyone to spread out a little. This leg for Van 2 took about 3 1/2 hours. So, by the time we got to the van exchange and fell asleep we had 2 – 2 1/2 hours before we heard from them. Van 2 let us know when their last runner had started running and Kris got ready for the next hand off and the last leg of the race.
The sun started to rise during runner #2 for us and that brought back our energy – we were back to dancing on the van and obnoxiously cheering on our runners. This was a fun leg for us – knowing it was our last. By the time we got to our last runner, we were stopping every mile to cheer and dance.

Final leg for our van – we recruited
2 other teams to help with this
tunnel and cheered on several
When he was done, we handed it back to Van 2 and were done with our part. Kris was planning to take a shower at the van exchange (since they were advertised as available for free), but alas, no luck … he had to be stinky like the rest of us.
We debated about what we wanted to do next – we figured we had about 4 hours until we’d need to meet up at the finish line.  After a suggestion from Kris we ended up at the Casino Arizona Buffet – a delicious way to end a 30 hour race!

Tribe Team Too! – Van 1 – Post-Race

Once we were all sufficiently full we headed to Tempe Beach Park – the finish line area. They were offering free massages so we jumped in line. Unfortunately, our final runner approached the finish line before we could get our massages – so, we all went to meet up with her and cross together. Our final time was 27:25:30. We finished 41st out of 306 teams – 12th in our division (141 teams) – and most importantly, ahead of Tribe Team 1!

Before you register – here are some things to consider:
  • Money – Registration for the event is $1200 per team ($100 per person). Transportation, food, van decorations and costume costs will vary depending what you choose to do.
  • Transportation – most teams get the 12-15 passenger vans (which I highly recommend!) – we saw some teams in SUVs and minivans. You’ll need 2 vehicles per team – each one will have 6 runners & a driver (if you don’t have a separate driver, the runners have to rotate driving). Make sure you have enough space for everyone and their ‘stuff’.
  • Food – you’ll want community food in your van in addition to the restaurants you stop at. Take into account any food allergies teammates may have.
  • Volunteers – each team needs to provide 2 volunteers for the race. If you don’t, your team will be charged an extra $120 per volunteer.
  • Teammates – choose your team wisely! You will be stuck in a van with 5-6 people for 25-35 hours … make sure they are people you can handle for that long.  We lucked out and LOVED our van mates … I would do this again with any of them. I can also think of people, whom I love dearly but could not handle doing this with. Your teammates should be people who can handle minimal sleep (and any sleep is done in the van, on a grass field or in a school gym), stinky environments and close quarters – the only personal space you will get will be in the portapotties.
  • Alternates – make sure you have alternate teammates ready in case someone needs to drop out last minute.
  • Team Name & Theme – some teams go all out with this one! This is very personal for your team and will depend on your teammates. We did not do costumes but quite a few teams did. Some were great – others looked like they would be a pain to run in.
  • The race starts on a Friday – more than likely you’ll need to take a day off of work.
Suggestions to get the most out of the experience:
  • Put together 2 teams – having a little competition between the two teams adds to the fun.
  • If there is something that motivates you while you run, speak up! Your van mates are there to support you through your leg of the race and to make it fun. Some things we did: danced on the roof of our van, cheered for our runner as they passed, we requested our favorite motivational songs to be played loud as we passed, we handed off water bottles to our runner, we all made a tunnel for our runner to go through, we mooned our runner.
  • Put names on water bottles – there will be water bottles floating all over the van. This will make it easier when you’re trying to get a bottle ready for your runner.
  • Pay attention to your runner – always know where they are and when they should finish their leg of the race so you don’t leave them stranded in the exchange area. We were surprised to see runners make it to the exchange area and have no one to hand off too – sometimes waiting up to 10 minutes for someone from their team to arrive. 

Things to pack:
  • Water – make sure you have a lot of water in the van! There were a few exchange areas where I noticed water jugs, but make sure you have enough water packed so you don’t have to rely on finding it at the exchanges.
  • Food – pre-run, nutrition while running, post-run & snacks. Our community food included, Hammer gels, Heed, Recoverite, bananas, pretzels, bagels, etc.
  • Clothes – I packed a change of clothes for after each leg. After the first leg I only changed my shirt & socks but changed everything after my 2nd & 3rd legs. It was nice being able to put on dry clothes!
  • Extra pair of shoes just in case something happens to your running shoes. I also packed slippers to wear when I wasn’t running – they made the car ride a little more comfortable. Other girls packed flip flops but I wouldn’t recommend that – their feet were very cold during the night and a lot of the exchanges take place in dirt lots.
  • Reflective Vests – At nights, anyone outside of your van must have on a reflective vest – make sure you have enough for everyone. Night runners must wear a reflective vest during their run.
  • Lights – Night runners must have headlamps and rear red flashers. It is nice to have at least 2 sets so the current runner and runner getting ready can both have one – makes the exchange much easier. Extra headlamps are a bonus & nice for trips to the portapotties.
  • Wet Wipes – I used the Nathan Power Shower wipes after my runs as I changed into dry clothes. No, it’s not as good as taking a shower, but did make me feel a little less stinky. I also had facial cleansing wipes that were refreshing in the morning.
  • Hand sanitizer or hand wipes – the portapotties all seemed to have hand sanitizer in them, but it’s nice to have your own as well.
  • Deodorant – enough said.
  • Body Glide or something similar to prevent chaffing.
  • Paper products – toilet paper, paper towels.
  • Personal items for your comfort – toothbrush & toothpaste, hair brush, etc.
  • Pillow & Blanket – make the time in the van a little more comfortable.
  • Air freshener – especially if you go somewhere like Macayo’s between legs!
  • Sleeping bag if you plan on sleeping in a field or school gym.
Final Thoughts:
This is a great event for all types of runners. It is unlike any other running event I have done and did not feel like a ‘race’. The team component pushes you to do your best but also creates a fun atmosphere of support and encouragement. I would definitely do it again and highly recommend this to anyone who is open to the idea of getting some ‘quality bonding time’ with 6 other people.

And, last but not least, here are a couple videos I put together …

The Teaser
The full length video used for the Ragnar Video Contest can be found here 

– Mindy

One thought on “Race Review – Ragnar Relay Del Sol

  • Mandi

    Great review Mindy!! Your blog rocks!

    I Loved Ragnar, we should do a whole Team Too meet up since I was in van Too-Two I didn’t get to know all of you :)


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