First things first (and unrelated): if you follow me on Twitter (thank you, most importantly) don’t click on any direct messages I send you. And don’t believe me when I say I lost 5 pounds in a week without changing my eating habits or working out, and I feel great. First of all, that is NOT possible to do unless you are ill or starving yourself (thereby changing your diet), and second of all I did not do that. Promise. Those 5 pounds are still partying on my backside.
Anyway, my account was hacked and I would hate to repay the kindness of your following me with some a-hole sending BS to your entire list of followers. I think it’s fine now, but be careful. Links to blog posts are fine for clicking.
Moving on –
Now that I’ve given you the whole spiel about our experiences with the Ragnar Cape Cod Relay, I wanted to reflect on it a bit in the final post. A review of sorts, with mostly irrelevant pictures sprinkled throughout for good measure. Then we’ll be back on our regularly scheduled food talk.
Things I liked about Ragnar:
- The idea. Doing an overnight relay is really cool for the reasons I described in my previous post. If you’re not athletic and you really, really hate being uncomfortable then it might not be for you. But even if you’re a casual runner (like me) and you and some friends can assemble a good team, I think it’s totally worthwhile. Even if you just do it once to say you did it.
- The camaraderie among runners. This was my favorite part of the race. It’s almost as if signing up for this race automatically enters you into this really friendly and supportive club. Everyone is friends on the Ragnar trail, probably because we all know we’re crazy for signing up in the first place. All along the routes, vans are not only honking at their own runners, but cheering for other runners on the way. When people slow down and start to look tired, you will always see a runner come up from behind and say some words of encouragement. Rather than competing with other runners, it seems more like everyone is competing with themselves by trying to finish with their wits about them.
- Few people (if any) take themselves too seriously. With any competitive event you’ll obviously have some beast who wants to prove he or she is a demi-god. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it. You’re awesome. Whatever. Most people who do Ragnar just want to have a good time. Expect to see some ridiculously decorated vans, offensive language, blow up dolls, crass jokes (of sexual nature and/or involving toilet humor, both of which I find endlessly hilarious), and crazy costumes.
- Every single exchange had an army of porta-potties. Most of them had toilet paper, and few of them had lines. Porta-potties are disgusting in any capacity, but these were reasonably less repulsive than usual, and they switched them with new ones at least once (possibly more) during the event.
- The course. The legs on the course are of varying lengths, which allows each runner to choose something that either challenges them or suits their abilities. Even though most of the legs were on highways, each runner had at least one leg that was beautiful. Also, Ragnar does a great job of making the short legs more challenging with terrain obstacles (i.e. MF SAND). It’s a nice mixture that allows everyone to have a taste of everything on their run.
Things I wasn’t crazy about:
- Most importantly, the race was appallingly disorganized. Believe me, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to throw an event like this together seamlessly, but it felt like it was thrown together at the last minute. I know they can’t help construction or mileage changes, but when you hear about changes happening five minutes before a leg is set to start it begins to look like they didn’t do their due diligence before finalizing the route. One of our runners actually took on a second leg because it was shortened from 8 miles to 2 and since she was running, she was unaware of the change.
- More on that note. You’re dealing with people flying from exchange to exchange in vans they’re not used to driving, and runners who have enough on their minds without having to navigate unfamiliar routes. Directions were given for both the runners and the vans on each route…except they were completely wrong. More times than not they said “right” when they meant “left,” and at one point our van got completely lost. We finally broke out the Tom-Tom.
- Not enough volunteers, not enough signs. The direction issue would have been less of an issue had there been volunteers placed along the route to guide runners (it’s not like a normal race where you’re surrounded by people – as the race goes on the runners are more and more spread out). The signage they had was ok, but at least once on each of my legs I faced a fork in the road with no sign indicating which way to go. A sign on one leg got turned around, leading one of our runners directly into a marsh (it was a night run and she couldn’t see). This wouldn’t have happened if the race had been adequately staffed.
- Not enough security during night runs. This is another area where proper volunteer staffing would have been great. KnightlyBoyfriend kept saying that the night runs were going to be one of those “no big deal” situations until something really bad happened (he offered to run it with me, actually), and I kind of agree. In spite of the threat of drunk drivers and ankle-twisting potholes, runs along the main roads weren’t terrible because the vans can stay with you. But putting runners through a dark and secluded wildlife area with little-to-no security and no people around to make sure you’re ok? Very sketchy. Maybe I’m a baby, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
- Poor food/drink options. Other Ragnar events seem to have a variety of food and drink stations. Only two of the exchanges offered real food (not just gels and energy bars…which were only at one or two other stations anyway) and only the major exchanges had water. It would have been nice to eat something full of protein and unprocessed food. However, to be fair, this isn’t something that’s hard to do on your own, we just opted to sleep rather than drive around aimlessly looking for food.
- The after-party totally sucked. One free beer that takes an hour to get because there aren’t enough booths serving it, and a cup of clam chowder? Y’all. The first thing I want is a beer, which I couldn’t get to through all the people, and the last thing I want to eat when I’m disgusting, crampy, and sleep-deprived is SEAFOOD. Come on. You charge people more than $100 each and you pocket all of it (Ragnar doesn’t support a charitable cause). Throw a decent party.
Whatever. We made our own after-party.
All snags aside, I look forward to doing this again next year!