Ragnar Northwest Passage is now less than two weeks away, so today my husband and I met up with some of the other people from our team and two other teams organized by our friend, Penny, to get a preview of the course. Due to a mixup in van rental reservations, our team has the pleasure(!) of renting minivans instead of larger ones, which means all the runners will take turns driving rather than having non-running designated drivers--no room for an extra person, and relatively tight quarters for all. That made getting a preview of the route even more important to us; we'd like to know where we are going without the pressure of having to be in position for each exchange point!
It was a gorgeous day to be out on the road. Hopefully the weather will be equally dry and lovely for the race, though a touch cooler would be fine. We met up at our captain's house to get instructions and a copy of the route to follow (aka the Ragnar Race Bible). My husband drove our car since we had a small group, so with one other person who is driving Van 2 for another team, we set out for the first exchange point for our van, exchange 6 in Bellingham, while the other team headed to the start in Blaine. That was the last we would see of them today as we were driving our route and they were driving theirs . . .
This was a great way to become familiar not only with the route, which goes on both major roads and tiny backroads, but also with how the Ragnar Race Bible lays the instructions out. There are directions for the "inactive" van that take it away from the route where the other van's group is running. I'm sure this is to reduce congestion and give the inactive van a block of time for whatever rest they can grab. Imagine 380+ teams, most with two vans, who are traveling all those same roads--that's well over 600 vehicles out there in addition to whatever is normally on those roads! Even though the teams have staggered start times over the span of about five hours, reducing unnecessary traffic from the race is obviously a good idea. Add to that the reality that by the last legs, the faster teams that started later will have caught up to (and probably passed) the slower teams that started earlier. This should be interesting, to put it mildly!
We did fairly well with following the directions and finding our route with a few minor hiccups along the way. Some streets were not well marked and we passed them, but we were able to figure out where we went wrong and get back fairly quickly (copious notes on landmarks and where to go were duly taken on those parts). One was a road that supposedly the vans and runners turn on which is blocked--because the road is washed out (oops!). It was easy to figure out what the alternative route will be, though, because the next street over was the one where the exchange will be located; it's pretty certain that the runners and vans will be rerouted to that street instead. The other one that we had trouble with was an exchange at a trucking company that does not seem to exist, or at least there are no signs anywhere for it. It's right about at a Y intersection, so we can only hope that there will be plenty of signage and it will be obvious where both the runners and vans need to go on race day.
My husband and I tried to pay particular attention to the route where our legs run. He is runner #10 and I am runner #11 right behind him. His legs are not too bad (3.1 miles rated as easy, 4.8 miles moderate, and 5.8 miles moderate). Mine are a little longer and have more hills on them: 6.8 miles hard, 6.5 miles hard, and 3.8 miles easy. At least my legs get progressively shorter and end with an easy one!
When we were done driving the route and found where the finish line will be, we happily made our way to Clinton to catch the ferry back to Mukilteo and dropped off our passenger where we started before heading home.
It was a full day and one that has us even more excited about becoming Ragnarians. I'm mildly nervous that I will be slower than the projected times for me, but I've been assured that it will be fine, no matter how fast or slow we go. This is going to be an adventure, no doubt about it!