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Ragnar Las Vegas Part 1: Getting There

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sorry to be AWOL around here more than usual recently. Life has been nothing if not hectic!

This trip and event was so packed, it's going to take more than one blog to get it all down. For those who don't really know what Ragnar is, it is a relay race that covers approximately 200 miles. The course is divided up into 36 legs, and teams of 12 runners take turns running a leg. The teams split into two vans so that one van of runners is "on" while the other is traveling, eating, or resting in preparation for their set of legs.

My husband and I had the privilege of running our first Ragnar here in Washington this summer, Ragnar Northwest Passage. One of the runners on our team, Adam, is from Las Vegas, and told us all that we should come do Ragnar Las Vegas in the fall. That's all it took; the seed was planted, took root, and sprouted into the beginnings of a team literally within days of finishing Northwest Passage. Maybe it was because most everyone enjoyed a beer to relax after Ragnar Northwest Passage, maybe it was because many ideas regarding adventures have been hatched over a beer or wine, but the team name was quickly chosen: AID, or Alcohol Influenced Decision.

Initially our team had to register as an 'ultra' team of 6 because that's all we had when we first registered. Penny, our team captain, is a Ragnar Ambassador and has a lot of connections, so we weren't too worried about finding others to fill out the remaining spots on the team. It didn't take long until we had recruited enough people for a regular team, much to the relief of those of us who signed up at the beginning. Tackling three legs each is a big enough challenge for most of us; handling six legs each, which is what we would have had to do as an ultra team, is more than any of us really wanted to do.

A private group was set up on Facebook for the team so we could all get to know one another a little. I could tell right away that this was going to be a fun group; just the jokes and comments that were shared back and forth made it seem like we would all be a good fit together. Since team members were coming from several different states, Facebook was the only way we could "meet" before coming together for the race.

As the time to fly to Las Vegas approached, we kept finding out about changes to the course. Runners' distances and routes kept shifting; I looked at the course maps and elevation charts for my legs and wondered about the rating system based on those. My first leg was rated moderate; it was all downhill for 4.7 miles. The second leg was also rated moderate, but this one was 4.5 miles all UPhill. That one scared me a little. My final leg was rated hard, 7.0 miles with an uphill climb to start then basically all downhill from there. The only real concern I had about that was having my longest distance on the last leg, when I knew I'd be pretty well wiped out.

We got reservations to fly out to Las Vegas late Wednesday night so my husband would not have to miss too much work. As a contractor, if he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid. This little adventure was going to be expensive enough that we didn't want to lose too much of his salary. I opted to take Wednesday off as well as Thursday and Friday so that I could go to a doctor's appointment Wednesday morning and finish up packing and getting ready. Even though we had packed (and repacked) before, it turned out that it was very good that I did that.

Once my husband had finished work, we piled things into the car and headed to the airport, parking our car and taking a shuttle in to drop off our one checked bag (containing mainly our sleeping bags and mats) and catch our flight. After going through security, we were walking through the airport wearing our Ragnar sweatshirts, and a couple stopped us to talk: we had done Ragnar? They were getting ready to their first Ragnar in Cape Cod! We ran into several people along the way who had done or were going to do a Ragnar relay, even the exchange manager for exchange 6. There seems to be an instant sense of fellowship and camaraderie among Ragnarians; it's such a different experience than any other race.

We arrived in Las Vegas just before midnight and called the hotel to find out about their free shuttle. Too bad that we didn't realize the last shuttle left at midnight; we ended up having to take a taxi to the hotel and paid $45 to get there. Wish we had known; we might have tried to get a slightly earlier flight or else looked into other ways of getting to the hotel.

Once we got to the hotel, we were informed that they had no rooms left with king beds (even though our room was prepaid, not just a reservation). All they had were rooms with two double beds. We were so tired, we didn't really care at that point, so we took what we could get and went to bed. Fortunately since we've both lost weight, we fit in a double bed without any problem, but I was annoyed that we had a prepaid room and did not get what we had reserved. No matter, we were in Vegas!

We slept in as long as we could on Thursday, had a leisurely breakfast, then took the shuttle downtown to The Strip to explore. That was fun--we literally walked about three miles down and three miles back on The Strip, taking pictures and enjoying the sunshine. Then it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner with the rest of the team.

More to come . . .

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