On May 19-20th, I ran my first Ragnar Relay; an overnight, 200-ish mile relay-style race along the shores of Lake Ontario from Cobourg to Niagara Falls. The almost 33 hour journey around Lake Ontario with my 11 amazing teammates was an incredible experience. Think of it as running three races of different lengths within 24 hours with time to cheer, party, or nap in-between. My team was called the Twisted Tutus, and we were all about having a good time – we had just the right mix of girls to get a little silly!
On Thursday evening, we checked in to our hotel near Cobourg. Pretty much the entire parking lot was filled with Ragnar vans. We had a 6:00 a.m. start time so we were up around 4:45 a.m., showered, packed up our gear and off we went. The start was only a couple miles from the hotel and we found it easily. Teams were called to the starting line as early as noon (based on their expected finish times) and before long, our first runner was off!
As we waited at the first exchange, we saw a ton of other teams! We were also introduced to the tradition of “tagging” vans. We learned that other teams had made up hundreds of magnets saying our team name, which they put on the back of other vans. There’s something about seeing all of the stickers and magnets that other teams had stealthily put on our van that made me super happy. I even took some awesome ones home with me. Next time, we will definitely make up our own!
I was runner 5 and I was so pumped when it was my turn to run. I tried to take it all in and simply enjoy the experience – and the fact I was actually doing this! As I started getting near the finish of my leg, I began to hear cheers and cowbells. I ran in with a big smile on my face and slapped the bracket onto runner 6.
Once our 6th runner finished her leg, we drove to the next major exchange in Pickering. This turned out to be a nice church parking lot with lots of grass and shady trees. Half of our van threw down blankets and sleeping bags and caught some rest outside, while the other half curled up inside the van. It was like when you’re sleeping on an airplane – you kind of sleep but you kind of don’t.
My night run was the one I was looking forward to, though it was definitely the least scenic of my three legs. Much of it was on an industrial road leading towards Cherry Beach in Toronto. When I started this run it was just starting to get dark, but when I finished it was super dark. I was able to get 2 kills (when you pass someone), which was really cool. I had to laugh because of the odd looks that we kept getting. Most of the time, people you pass wonder what is going on…and why you’re wearing a reflective vest and tutu in the middle of the night J
Lucky for me, my 3rd leg started after nighttime hours, so I didn’t have to wear my safety gear again. This was my longest and hardest leg. It was about 15km long, really hot, and on a constant, slight incline. I almost gave up about 3 times, but somehow managed to push through. As the rest of my van ran their last legs and checked off their last boxes on the van window, the excitement of finishing became more and more real.
Once our van was done, with the thought of hot showers in our minds, we set off for the finish line to see if we could check in to our hotel early. We picked the best hotel to stay in as the finish line was directly across the street! We were SO thankful that the hotel was able to check us in to 1 room before our quoted check in time. It was quite possibly the best shower I’ve ever had. Squeaky clean, we headed across the street to wait for our teammates to arrive. Together, we crossed the line right in front of the falls in just under 33 hours!
All in all, a fantastic time! The event was really well organized, the course was beautiful, and the race had arguably the best finish line venue ever. This race series should be on your bucket list and it’s the best way to make new friends and become closer to your old ones. From start to finish you’ll laugh, cry and want to do it all over again the second it’s finished.