Saturday, July 25, 2015


Oh gosh. This is one memory that I will never forget. Ragnar 2015! I have never had any desire to do this particular race, but when some friends in my neighborhood decided to put together and all-ladies team and invited me to join, I couldn't say no. An all-ladies team?! FUN!

I couldn't believe the amount and planning and preparation that went into this. Our team met about 3 times before the actual race, starting back in February (I think?), to get all the logistics right. Van rentals, matching outfits, food assignments, running assignments, leg assignments, equipment needed, going over rules, van decorating, finding required volunteers.... the list goes on. Phew! I was sure glad that I wasn't the team captain. That was our fearless leader, Katrina, aka Kat. Our team was Kat's Kitties. And boy, did we ever have fun with that one.

We had tried to just keep the team to ladies in our neighborhood, but we couldn't find 12 people that would commit so we had to branch out to include other friends/family. My sister Kaylie did it with us as well as Andy's sister Breanna. We ended up with 7 (8 with our driver) ladies in our neighborhood and 5 ladies we inducted in to our close knit group. And now we are all bff's anyway because an experience like Ragnar will do that to you.

I know I will want to remember every gory detail, so this post will be long and detail-oriented. Well, as much as I can remember because it HAS been a month since the race. And just a quick run down of what Ragnar is, in case you live under a rock (haha, just kidding ;):

Ragnar is a team of 12 people (or 6 if you are ultra crazy) that runs from Logan to Park City over 200 miles and 2 days nonstop. It is a relay and someone is always running from the team. Each person runs 3 legs. The team is split into 6 and 6 between 2 vans. You pretty much live in that van for 2 days straight and you are constantly driving unless it is the other van's turn to be running and then you get a break for awhile. There are exchange points where you meet your team to hand off the relay bracelet to the next runner. You run, sleep, and eat from the van. That is a pretty rough explanation, but it's as good as it's gonna get.

So anyway! Race day! Or better yet, the night before the race. My van was van #1 so we had to head up to Logan the night before considering our team's start time was 5:15 AM. We met up and loaded the van and then headed out to dinner before driving up to Logan. We arrived and of course, had to chat for a bit before heading to bed around 11:30. We had to be up at 4, so that was just the beginning of a very long weekend with very little to no sleep. If you're wondering about the 7th person up there in the photo, we had recruited a driver for our team so we would be able to get more sleep. Julie (far left) is a very dear friend in our ward who had wanted to participate but was unable to for various reasons. She still wanted to be apart of the fun, so she had volunteered as our driver. This was awesome for us because then we would (in theory) get to be able to sleep more since we wouldn't be stuck trading off driving the van. The rest of us (L to R) are Cindy, Marcie, myself, Kaylie, Breanna, and Katrina (el capitan extraordinaire!)

The next morning we were up at 4, getting ready to head out. I was runner #1 so I was the one starting off this fun little experience for our team.We quickly packed up and loaded up the van and then got in to go when.... the headlights wouldn't turn on. This was the first in a series of very unfortunate events for our team. We had some bad luck but we got through it and now it's just a part of the crazy story. We tried to figure out the problem for a bit, but the time was quickly ticking away, so we decided to head out sans headlights. It was SO DARK and we drove really slow to the start line on the Utah State campus. When we arrived I pretty much had to run to the starting line (luckily I had all of my required night gear on already) but I didn't eat anything and that had me worried. This was going to be my longest run at 6 1/2 miles so I didn't really want to go on an empty stomach. Luckily Marcie had some peanuts in her running pack that I stuffed into my dry mouth and quickly choked down before getting into the chute with all of the other crazy people. Two minutes later we were off! The first couple miles were straight uphill and that was rough but I told myself to keep running and not walk so I did, as slow as it was. I finally made it up into the mountains and that was a little easier, but I am definitely not a trail runner so I had to be really careful not to trip and fall.

My leg was partially supported by the van so as soon as I saw them waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain, I was so happy. My team was waiting there for me with a banana and as I ran past, I grabbed it and ate it while I ran (no easy task). After that I felt much better and was able to finish my leg. I passed off the bracelet to Katrina (runner #2) and she was off. I was so glad to get my first longest and hardest leg out of the way! I took a quick wipey bath and changed my clothes, grabbed some breakfast and we were off again to support Katrina on her 9 mile run.
As she passed us at one point, we ran across the road to give her support, cheer for her and give her water.
And then she was off again. And so the race goes. Running, driving, cheering, supporting, helping, chatting, laughing, singing to music, etc etc. It is such a fun and crazy experience. 

At one point we were parked off the road waiting for Kat to see if she would need anything when Cindy was in the front seat and we were all just chatting. She finally said, "Who is doing that?" And we all had no idea what she was referring to and she said, "Someone is meowing!" Well, we had all been meowing all morning jokingly, as we were Kat's Kitties after all. 

She looked out her window and saw.... a cat! It was rubbing up against our van and meowing! We were all dying from laughter. What are the odds?!
We figured she was there to be our mascot.

We sat and held her to show Kat as she ran past and when she did she yelled out "Where the heck did you get that cat?!?" It was so funny.

After Katrina, it was Marcie's turn to run. She ran with a picture of her cousin on the back of her shirt, who had passed away just a few days before in a motorcycle accident. She was missing the funeral to be with us at Ragnar and wanted to be able to remember him as she ran.
Waiting for Kat at the exchange point.

Here she comes! And off goes Marcie.

The rules state that you cannot stop along the road, but you can yell and cheer for your runner as you pass them. We yelled and cheered for Marcie and I hung out the window across Julie's lap to snap some photos.

Marcie and Kaylie at the exchange, trading places.

And there's my sissy!

At this point in the day, it was really heating up. It had been record high temps the last few days, so we were concerned about dehydration and heat exhaustion. We made sure everyone was getting spritzed with water as they ran by and getting plenty to drink. 

Kaylie finished and Bree took over. Bree's leg was one of the very hardest that day. Straight up a mountain for 8 1/2 miles. The vans had to drive very slowly along side them because there was nowhere else to go. It was so dusty and SO hot.
But she is a rockstar runner and dominated.

This is cute Marcie chasing Bree with the squirt bottle and squirting her for a good hundred yards before turning to come back. It was so funny.

Kitties in the van!

After Bree was our last runner, Cindy. Cindy is Katrina's mama. She is 62 years old and she is a total rockstar! I love this lady.
Just taking a little break in the 100 degree heat.

After this last little support we headed to the exchange to meet up with the other van and the rest of our team, as well as wait for Cindy to come in.

The poor other van had some trouble getting here. Their van had over heated a couple times and they needed us to go pick up some coolant for them at the gas station that was 10 miles away. Another little mishap in our series of unfortunate events.

Our other rockin' team mates! From L to R: Melissa (Kat's sis-in-law), her friend Cali, Lori, Jenny, Julia, and Lindsey (Julia's friend). Lori, Jenny, and Julia are also in our ward. Julia is Cindy's other daughter and Kat's sister. Got that? There's a quiz at the end ;)

As soon as Cindy handed off the bracelet to Melissa, it was officially the other van's turn and we were going to get a break for awhile. After getting them some coolant, they were on their way to meet Melissa at the next exchange. We had to go find a place that would fix our headlights so we wouldn't be disqualified that night for a safety violation. It was also at this point that we had found out that a runner had died on the first leg of the race that morning. Such a sad story. They guy is actually in my uncle's stake in Park City. I feel terrible for his family.

We had to drive into town a ways. Luckily we found an awesome dealership that fixed our lights quickly (it was just an electrical problem) and we stopped at a little drive-in to get shakes. After that we headed to the next major exchange to try and get some naps in. It was crazy and busy and so HOT. It was hard to find some shade, but we did and laid out blankets and pillows and brought food and drink and sat and relaxed for the next several hours. We got updates from the other van every once in awhile. They were really struggling in the heat. Lindsey was throwing up after her leg. So was Cali. In fact, Cali couldn't STOP throwing up. By the time they arrived to meet us at the exchange, they said Cali was getting a little delirious. She sounded severely dehydrated, but they said she was sleeping, so they were leaving her alone for now. 

Jenny was the last of their group that was running and while we waited for her, we took a little team photo (minus Jenny, of course. And Cali)
As soon as Jenny arrived I was off again on my second leg. I felt really lucky that I didn't have to run in the sun at all up to this point. I did have to wear the annoying night gear, but that was much better than the alternative. 

I finished my quick 4 1/2 miler (it was so nice to be running in the cool night) and Kat was off again. And as we were getting ready to leave.... our van wouldn't start. Just another item in our series of unfortunate events. Luckily we were able to get a jump. And so the second round went. As we were driving we got updates from the other team. Around the time Marcie was leaving on her run we got a message saying that Cali was so sick that they had finally taken her to a medic tent and they were sending her to the hospital in an ambulance. 

Oh no! We felt terrible for her! Poor thing. 

Our other van wasn't sure what they were going to do. They wondered if our driver, Julie, would be willing to take her place. Of course, she said yes. She had been training with us and had wanted to participate and now she was going to! But we were definitely going to miss her. I took over driving so she could sleep for a bit before she had to start running with the other team. 

Oh man. It was hard. Our team was running all through the night and I was driving the whole time while most everyone slept. Marcie hung out with me for a bit and we cheered our runners as they went. Bree had a very long 9 1/2 miler that seemed to last forever.  And finally it was Cindy's turn before we would meet up with the other van.

We met them around 4 AM and gave them Julie (sadly) and they were off. We headed to the next major exchange to try and get some sleep. I was super grumpy as I had had zero sleep at all since 4 o'clock AM the previous day. I kicked Kaylie off her bench in the van and tried to sleep but I couldn't really at that point. The sun had started to come up and I felt pretty sick to my stomach, just from lack of sleep. I was able to rest for a bit and after eating a little food (which was the last thing I wanted to do) I felt a little better.  I got ready for my third leg and was just so relieved that I would be finished after that. It was a 5 miler, but the surface was flat and it wouldn't be in the heat of the day quit yet. 

When the other van met us at the exchange they said that several of them weren't feeling great. I remember at one point in the night while I was driving I had looked around at all of these crazy people in vans, watching their runners, and I actually said out loud, "What the hell are we doing?!?" It is a pretty crazy thing, if you think about it. And people pay tons of money to do it, too. Pretty funny. Luckily they were going to get a long rest before it was their turn again. Jenny arrived and passed off the bracelet and I was off yet again. This was my hardest run yet. I was pretty fast for the first three miles, but it just kept getting hotter and hotter. I walked the whole 4th mile and then ran the 5th. I was exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was so glad to run up to the exchange and hand off that dang bracelet (actually, I didn't hand off anything. We had lost our bracelet in the middle of the night somewhere on the second leg. Whatever.) And then I was DONE! It felt great.
Finished with all 3 legs! A total of 16 miles. Not too shabby. I rested while the others ran their legs. We continued on, cheered, supported, and etc etc. So the Ragnar goes.

Marcie, handing off to Kaylie

After Kaylie, Bree, and Cindy.... we were done! We met the other van at the last major exchange point and waited while Cindy ran in and Melissa headed out.
Our whole van, finished! Woo hoo!

Now we just had to wait while the other van finished and we would be officially DONE! We hung out at a school while we waited, in the shade, and got updates from the other van. They were doing really well and we had an estimated end time of around 8 PM. We headed to the finish line around 7 where a huge party was going on. We watched other teams come in as we waited for our other van to meet up with us. They arrived and we all hung out together, waiting for Jenny, in our official Kat's Kitties team shirts. When we saw Jenny running down the mountain, we all grouped up and met her, cheering, yelling, and meowing. We are weirdos. We all ran across the finish line together and YAY! We were done. The madness was finished.

Our two vans, done:
Van #2

Van #1 

And of course, us with our awesome driver who left halfway through to the other team.

Our medals put together read "Together we ran 200ish miles. Ragnar Relay Series" on the back. For some reason this photo is upside down. Whatever.
Our team signed the finished board and took photos. Then we shopped at the booths and ate pizza and ice cream. It tasted soooo good.

We chatted and talked, swapped stories and celebrated. It was so great and so fun and just felt awesome to be done. (that rhymed!)

I love this Lori girl. We served in Young Women's together for almost 2 years.

And I decided to get photos as it was getting dark of our hilarious van decorations. Lori's brother had photo-shopped our faces onto cat bodies. It was hysterical and we had so many people come up to us and comment on how funny, creepy, crazy it was.
Not the best photos, but you get the idea.

Me and my sissy-poo

And this photo is terrible, but Lori brought mini martinelli's for us to celebrate with at the end and we were doing a "cheers" moment here. It is so dark, but I was so happy in this photo. I love all of these ladies! It was an amazing, unforgettable experience, one that I never thought I would want to do again, but just like having a baby, you forget all of the horrible parts and just remember the good stuff.

So maybe I will do it again someday, because I just remember the good stuff. 

Ragnar 2015, done!

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