Back when my new friend Brenda asked me to be on her Ragnar team I thought I was crazy, I had been running only sporadically after my marathon (all that training made me hate having a schedule to follow!) and I didn’t really know her or anyone else on the team. In fact, I only knew that she and one other girl in my ward were going to be on it. So I went into this weekend knowing that at least 5 people were going to be complete strangers and we would be spending 72 hours together.
But Zion National Park is so pretty. And I love running and the feeling of community at a race, so I went ahead and said yes.
I’m so glad I did. I’m going to say this right now, if you get an opportunity to do a relay race with a team — DO IT.
We made team t-shirts for everyone that turned out great. Really time consuming, but they were CHEAP and looked awesome.
We headed out early Friday morning, April 26, 2013, after loading everyone’s camping gear into Brenda’s truck. We made pretty good time so we stopped for lunch.
From left to right, Becca, me, Cathy and Brenda.
We stayed just a little too long at lunch and so we had to book it down to the campsite so our team could get checked in and our first runner could change and we could make our start time.
When we got to the campsite there was a NEVER ending line of trucks and vehicles parked along the road with their occupants all waiting for the shuttle to take them in to the campsite. We sent our first runner on one of the shuttles and we dug through the truck (this picture is me trying to find something in the coolers in the back of the truck without unloading it.)
After a good half hour wait or more we loaded everything on to a shuttle and then perched precariously on top of the stuff and drove in.
Then we had to carry everything we brought to our campsite which was not close to the dump site. And we brought a LOT of stuff.
We set up three tents, one for gear and two for sleeping. We were all strangers before, but we aren’t anymore.
We each ran the same three legs, but we had a rotation all figured out so we knew who was running when. I asked to run the longest leg first because I had basically NO training for this race and I wanted to make sure I would be able to finish my third leg.
So my first leg was the 7.5 mile loop. It was long and it was SANDY. I felt like I was running on a beach. My calves could not handle it, and I got a bunch of sand in my shoes and got blisters. 5 of them.
Luckily on this leg they had a water station a few miles out and that saved me because I ran in 80 degree weather at 4 in the afternoon.
The loop felt like it would never end and there were no mile markers so you had NO idea how much farther you had to go. But it did have some pretty views.
Like I said, my feet were sandy.
My friend Cathy from the ward was the other person I really knew before this trip. I knew I liked her but I didn’t know how cool she was until after this trip. She was the runner immediately before me so every time she finished I took off running. Which also meant that our schedules were fairly similar.
As the sun started to go down it started to get chilly but I wanted to stay awake until after my second leg which ended up starting at midnight, almost on the dot.
Every body tried to stay fueled up and loose throughout the night. It was weird to be eating such random times and things. We were all sweaty and just stayed in our running clothes for 24 hours.
I ran the 4 mile leg at midnight. It was my first time running at night with a headlamp and it took me a while to get the position figured out. You don’t want the light too far out in front or you forget what the terrain right in front of you looks like, but too close and you end up running a lot more slowly because you don’t want to run past what you know. I’m sure there were a bunch of gospel principles I could have been thinking about on this hike… but all I could think about was the fact that I was literally running to the top of the mountain. This leg gained 400 feet in a mile. It was so steep. So steep.
I came back and tried to sleep but couldn’t get to sleep because my lungs were so cold from running at night so I ended up sleeping for about three hours. I woke up and really enjoyed the sunrise. This is the finish line and the place where every leg ended and you exchanged with your next runner. Really cool arch.
The campsite was so crowded but it got surprisingly quiet at night. I guess that’s the beauty of having everyone around needing to get up and be running too!
I ran my last leg pretty early in the morning and I really like it, but I was tired. I think I’d like to run that trail again on fresh legs and see how it goes. The end of all three trails converged for the last half mile up switchbacks. Seriously so steep and narrow, it was difficult to find a way to pass people without feeling like you were going to slide down the mountain.
When our last runner finished his leg we were all there waiting to cheer him on in our team shirts and we ran across the finish line together. They gave us our medals and we took team pictures.
We finished in just barely under 24 hours of running.
We all took showers and cleaned up and then drove through Zion National Park to go to Springdale for a celebration dinner. It was delicious and felt so good to sit down somewhere clean. I love camping, but I also love being clean.
Because we had the campsite already paid for we stayed Saturday night too. We got up and made breakfast, packed up camp and went to church. After church we went on a little walk hike to the Emerald Pools.
It was really pretty but my blisters were complaining the entire time! I was really glad to get in the truck and head out and back to civilization.