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Ragnar Northwest Passage route preview today!

Monday, July 09, 2012

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!

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  • CANNIE50
    We can't get vans either! We will be in Suburbans. I hate to say that even in the big white vans, space gets a little tight, so I am reminding myself and my team members we have to pack lighter (our team is all women so it's even more challenging) and start out very organized. I reminded our team when we realized we would be space challenged because there are no big white vans available, "if we wanted to be comfortable, we wouldn't do this in the first place - we would have a spa weekend!" You are so smart to pre-drive the route. I was looking at my legs today and I have been laboring under the delusion that while my first leg is 6.3, that the second and third are around 5k's each. NOPE! My 2nd leg is over 5 miles with the last portion straight up a big-arsed hill! Oops. My 3rd leg is a bit hilly but only 3.1 miles with the last section downhill which will be a big old blessing by that time. The main way to let down teammates is to not show up - going slower is a part of Ragnar, it is the nature of the beast. You don't want to go fast on the first leg because you have two more to go, you generally do the second leg in some heat, and the third one is done when you are quite tired so speedy is not really an option. So, don't worry - show up, be cheerful and supportive, do your best through each leg and you will be a stellar teammate! Be the person who brings the huge pack of babywipes and you will be even more popular! I can't wait to see you on the course or afterwards. Do you have team shirts? If so, what color? Ours are royal blue with "Easier than Labor" on the front and our names on the back, along with the Ragnar motto - "run, drive, sleep?, repeat repeat". One note of caution is for the person who has to take the vans back to the rental place - that is the hardest time because the adrenaline wears off and the fatigue sets in so they may want to pound some caffeine at the finish line party. Anyway, you probably know all this but I love Ragnar tips so I tend to share them whether you want them or not! See you next FRIDAY/SATURDAY!!!! emoticon
    2286 days ago
  • SMILE2HAPPINESS
    You two are so on it! I love how you're a great team! emoticon
    2288 days ago
  • 4CYNDI
    Sounds like you and your team are really prepping well for the run. I know it will make life a lot easier during the run itself if you aren't worrying that you're taking the wrong route.

    Have fun and update us with all the fun and adventures you have during the run.
    2290 days ago
  • GAYEMC
    Can't wait to read your report when it's over. Have a great time!
    2290 days ago
  • -POLEDANCEGIRL-
    Ragnar's are a BLAST!!!! How fun!!!!
    2290 days ago
  • CASSIECAT
    It sounds like quite an adventure! I'll look forward to hearing about it when it's all said and done. :)
    2290 days ago
  • TRAVELGRRL
    I have never heard of Ragnar but it sounds like a BIG CHALLENGE! You will do great, no doubt! I'm glad you got the preview the course. Have fun.....
    2290 days ago
  • SLEEPYDEAN
    Penny was on my team for Ragnar So Cal. Small world!

    That is good that your shortest leg is last. My last one was over 6 miles and it was rough because my knee was done by that point.

    Bummer about the vans, I remember Penny posting on Facebook a few months back about the challenges of reserving vans in her area for that time.

    Can't wait to hear how your experience goes.
    2290 days ago
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