Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ragnar Trail New England 2016

Ragnar Trail New England: Alternate title Why I love Trail Ragnar over Road Ragnar

After last years Ragnar Trail NE, I started to think I preferred the trail event over the road.  At first, I wasn't sure if it was just the novelty of a new challenge completed but after another road & trail event, I can confidently say that I prefer Ragnar trail. 

Why you might ask? 

the Village: 
During road relays, my teams have only blown through most of the major exchanges.  By the time we've made it to the finish line, we are hungry, hot, tired, and eager for food, beer, shower and sleep. At the trail event, the village has something going on at all times - there is yoga, massages, hammocks, free coffee, mess hall, beer, bonfire, smores, and late night movies. The people watching is also superb. Since we are not following our runners on the road, each runner has the freedom to wander about (this does make the event seem a bit less of a team effort)


The campground is by far the best part.  There are tents & pop-ups everywhere. Both years it has been a great community. We were lucky enough to snag the last spot on a flat row. This came in handy since parking was way down the hill but a road was drawn for gear drops. We were able to throw everything right onto our plot and load back up without having to drag it around.  Our neighbors were great, offering us extra pancakes, burgers and hot dogs.  ( I suspect our hodge podge of snacks and dorm style of living had them feeling sorry for us)  I'm not sure if there were official quiet hours, but everyone was quite respectful throughout the night. 

I love running on roads, especially since I've started to make some progress with speed. But oh trails are lovely. Being out in the wood brings out a whole new level of challenges both physically and mentally. My first run was at 6:55.  It was hot and sweaty. I lost sunlight about halfway but had my headlamp. Parts of the trail seemed familiar, but in all honesty since they changed the course a bit I have no real clue. I had a decent amount of time in between runs and slept considerably well before my 4:45 second leg. Although I certainly wasn't fast at any point on these trails,  I can safely say that my current running routine has served me well,  I felt great by the time my third leg started (at 1:35pm) and actually ran my fastest overall pace during the longest loop! If 
borrowed from teammate Jess -- my favorite sign simply said "motivational sign' 

After about 26 of sweaty dirty hours, the 518 trail blazers became ragnarians! 

The road event does create more of a team effort - as each runner is helping to travel from one city to the next. In the middle of the night or when feeling dead tired, its easier to find the motivation to keep moving with your team there to offer van support. But I'll take the more individual aspect of ragnar trail and the additional challenge to find the drive.  The course is hard and despite the many miles I've put on trails this summer, I still felt wildly unprepared and I still loved every minute.  

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