For any who have stuck with me through all these entries, THANK YOU for wading through them! These blogs have been a way for me to process the experience, but I hope they also give you a glimpse of what Ragnar is like at least from my perspective.
After a much too short sleep, it was time to load up and head to exchange 24 for our last set of legs. As we were driving there, we got a text from Van 2: somewhere along the way, runner 12 had lost the slap bracelet in the night. That's a problem; that's how teams hand off at the exchanges, and if a team is disqualified, their slap bracelet is confiscated. A call and text to Ragnar staff solved the problem: we would slap hands at exchanges and had to be certain that our bib numbers were recorded at each exchange, then we could continue.
Van 2 had it easier than Van 1, so they were able to make up some of the time we'd lost on our second set of legs. Lorraine, Runner 11, however, had fallen on her second leg and twisted her ankle. It was wrapped and they iced it, but it was questionable how ready she would be to run her final leg. We picked up from Van 2 and Dale headed out to do his final leg.
Leg 3 for him was quite a bit of uphill, but it was getting light, it wasn't as cold, and it wasn't as windy, so he was able to do pretty well on it. I wasn't too worried about my final leg, although it was 7 miles rated as hard. It appeared to be mostly downhill when I first looked at the elevation chart. Then the team captain handed me the Ragnar bible with the elevation chart to look at again: oh yeah, I had overlooked that first half mile that was all uphill. Oops! Oh well, I figured I'd just put it into low gear and do my best, hoping to make up some time on the downhill portion. Here is the view down the hill as I waited for him to hand off for the last time:
I slapped hands with my husband when he came in and took off; the rest had helped enormously, and I started running up the hill. I kept thinking I'd have to slow to a walk on the uphill, but I made it to the top and started going downhill. I wasn't as fast on this last leg as on the first, but it was so much faster than leg 2! Since this was through town, I had to stop for traffic a number of times. It was also warming up, so I was very happy to hand off my jacket to my husband when the opportunity arose. As I ran past a Starbucks, one of team yelled out from the balcony that I was looking good; I told him to enjoy his Starbucks for me and kept going. Not nice, LOL! I was feeling good, though, and I tried to soak in everything.
Soon I saw the magic sign that signaled the end of my leg was near:
I managed to pass a couple of people on this leg, too, surprisingly enough. My pace on this portion averaged something like 11:30 a mile, much better than leg 2--I think that was closer to a 14 minute mile or so. I finished with a smile and slapped hands with Brad to go out on his last leg. Everyone in Van 1 did much better on their final leg now that the weather had improved; soon enough we handed off to Van 2 and went in search of food.
Along the way, various people were texting back and forth between vans not only information about how things were going but also pictures. Van 1 had graciously texted a picture of the food and drinks they were enjoying while we were out running in the cold and wind on our second leg, so we decided that we needed to reciprocate when we ate after our final leg. We found a Chili's, and margaritas and beers were ordered; once the appetizers and beverages arrived, we got a nice picture of the drinks and chips to text to Van 1. Score! We devoured our meal like we hadn't eaten in a week, then loaded back in the van.
Our team captain was calculating what time we would likely finish with all the lost time, and it was not looking great--we were probably going to be an hour or more behind, even if Van 2 was able to make up more time. We were also concerned about Lorraine doing her last leg considering her injury; there was a lot of uphill, and she is a relatively new runner. She was determined to finish her leg, though. There is the option in Ragnar of "leapfrogging," starting a second runner on the next leg if something like this happens, so our team captain talked to the people in Van 2, and they agreed to go on to the next exchange to start Lorraine on her leg before runner 10, George, finished his leg. Our van hurried to meet George and pick him up; he had no idea this was going on and would have wondered where Lorraine was to hand off at the exchange. Once George was done, Van 2 would then be free to send Rick, runner 12, out on his leg.
Rick, however, really wanted to wait for Lorraine and take the handoff from her; they are married, so he did not want to take off until he knew she was in. Since we'd bought some time with leapfrogging Lorraine ahead, we all agreed that should still be fine. We headed on to the finish to meet everyone so we could run across the finish line together.
With traffic so congested around the finish, however, we did not make it there before Rick had arrived. We didn't know it at the time, but Ragnar had cut that final leg by something like 2 miles, so Rick had to wait for both vans to arrive. Once we all got there, we officially ran across the finish and were handed our medals for running Ragnar Las Vegas. We had done it!
Several on the team had run other Ragnar events this year, which meant we had another medal awaiting us. We found the tent where those medals were being handed out, gave our names, and picked up our Deuces Wild medals; those who had run Ragnar Wasatch Back along with Vegas got the Saints and Sinners medals. When I say medals, I mean medals; these things are HUGE, and they are bottle openers. The double medals, appropriately, have two bottle openers, one at each end. Here's what we worked so hard for:
This was an amazing experience and one I will treasure for years to come. Will I do another Ragnar? Absolutely! Ragnar Northwest Passage is a given, it's just a matter of who we'll do it with. We have a few friends who are interested in doing it with us, so we may end up starting a team or seeing if they can get on a team with us and some of the people we did NWP or LV with this year. We also have a friend who wants to do one with us maybe in Arizona since she's in Texas, so that's a possibility.
Ragnar is unlike anything else I've done; I love the challenge, camaraderie, and atmosphere. I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined that I'd be doing something like this at this stage of my life; this has been quite a journey, and who knows where it will take me next!