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Ragnar Relay Del Sol – Race Report

March 4, 2009

ragnar-team-id-at-finish2Long race… long story…  😉

This past weekend (Feb 27-28) I ran in the Ragnar Relay Del Sol in Arizona.  I was part of a 12 person team (12 Type 1 Diabetics) that ran from Prescott to Mesa for a total of 204 miles.  We finished 42nd out of 214 with a time of 28 hours and 15 minutes.  We had 3 girls on our team, but still competed in the open male division.  We finished 11th in our division.  I’m so proud of our team and our finish time.  We all pushed it to the max for the TEAM.  It was awesome.

How the relay works –

  • Each team has 12 runners
  • Each runner runs 3 different legs
  • There are a total of 36 legs
  • Each team has 2 Vans with 6 runners in each van.
  • Van 1 will start on the course with runner 1.
  • Runner 1 will hand off to runner 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, and so on to runner 6.
  • Runner 6 will hand off to runner 7 and then Van 2 is on the course.
  • Van 1 will then drive to the next major exchange and wait for Van 2 to complete their legs of the journey

My trip started in St. Louis with a 2:30 pm flight to Phoenix on Thursday, Feb 26.  I landed in PHX at 5:00 pm and was picked up by one of my teammates.  After a major debacle at the car rental place, we wound up with 2 15 passenger vans and headed off to our meet up house a few hours later.  We had people coming from CA, NJ, MN, AK, and also had a handful of local PHX area folks.  After a short get together and dinner, we made the 2 hour drive up to Prescott for the race start.  We got to Prescott around 12:30 AM and eventually settled in for a bit of sleep.

The race start times are staggered every hour based on your projected pace.  Our first runner started at 10:00 am with approx. 30 other runners.  The start line scene was a lot of fun.  It was a beautiful day with the temp in the 50s.  The first leg was just over 3 miles and pretty hilly, but not as hilly as for our 3rd runner who had a 6.6 mile run that included a >800 ft climb and then back down the other side.  Needless to say, I was glad I didn’t have this leg.

My first leg (#6) started at 1:30 pm on Friday.  I had 6.11 miles to go through SKULL VALLEY.  Very cool.  The first few miles were on a dirt road and then transitioned back to a 2 lane highway.  The first thing I noticed was the altitude.  It was only 4200 ft., but I certainly noticed it.  My HR was high the entire run.  It was also around 65 degree, so a little warmer than I have been used to here in STL.  I still had a good, fun run.  Turned in a 8:30/mile pace for 51:54 and handed off to runner 7, the first runner for the second van.

Now, we had a chance to rest for a few hours in Kirkland, AZ before heading to exchange 13 in Congress, AZ to wait for Van 2 to finish their legs.  Van 2 finished up around 7:00 pm on Friday and we were back on the course.  Notice the nearly 5 hour wait for Van 2 to complete.  Seems like a long time, but the time goes by fast.  The time really flies by when your van is on the course.

My second run (#18) started at midnight Friday evening.  I had a 3.26 miler to Morristown at an elevation of 2000 ft.  The temp was around 50 and I ran along a 4 lane, divided highway.  Nice big shoulder and very little traffic.  I smoked this one in 25:57 at a 7:58 pace.  Felt great and had a good time running at night.

We decided to head directly to exchange 24 to wait for Van 2 to finish their 2nd round.  Exchange 24 was back in the PHX area at a local high school where we could shower and sleep in the gym if we wanted.  Myself and 1 other teammate decided to head inside to shower and enjoy the nice *soft* gym floor while everybody else was still out cold in the van from the drive.  I slept from 2 to 4:30 am.  I took it upon myself to make sure everybody was awake and ready to go for the next leg.  Got up and headed back out to the van at 5 am and we were all ready to get back on the course around 6:30 am on Saturday.  Poor Van 2 had 42+ miles to run through the middle of the night and apparently it got windy too.  Van 1 definitely had it made (relatively, I suppose 😉 ).

My last run (#30) started at 10:15 am on Saturday.  I had 6.4 to complete our portion of the race.  This run was at 1500 ft and included a HUGE 150 ft climb at the 4.5 mile mark.  The temp was up at 70+ at this point and let me tell you… this was one of the more difficult things I have ever done.  Starting out on this leg, I felt fine, but the lack of sleep and number of miles covered so far caught up to me pretty quick.  I was glad when this one was over and felt very emotional at the finish.  It was a great challenge that I put myself though and I did it.  The sense of accomplishment felt wonderful.  Time for this leg – 1:00:44, 9:30/mile pace.

At this point, Van 2 is back on the course and will take us all the way back to Mesa, AZ to complete the 204 mile journey while we drive to the finish line to wait.  As our last runner approached the finish, we all joined in and crossed the finish line together 28 hours and 15 minutes after our start.  Funny, my biggest memory of the finish was seeing the race officials handing out medals.  I hadn’t even thought about the medals!  I haven’t been running very long, so this would be my first medal.  It’s the little things some times….  😉

This was a great experience and challenge.  The Ragnar Relay folks did an amazing job of organizing this race.  Hats off to them.  As for my person experience.  I got to spend time with 11 other Type 1 Diabetics.  These are some of the nicest, most inspiring people I have ever met.  Many of them have done multiple triathlons and serve as role models for younger kids with diabetes.  The instant bond that exists between people that share a life long disease like Type 1 Diabetes is unexplainable and I will always cherish the time we spent together.

Before getting any more gushy, I’ll end this.  I caught a plane back to STL at 7:45 pm on Saturday and was finally back at my house at 12:30 am.  The trip finally over.

Thanks for reading.  If you have a chance to do one of these relays, do it.  You won’t regret it.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2009 12:29 am

    I found your blog from a link to my blog about the Ragnar Relay. I had a lot of fun with this race and if I wasn’t pregnant right now, I would have done it again for sure! Thanks for posting your relay story. It brought back lots of memories!

  2. March 10, 2009 2:45 pm

    Great description of the race, Gary! It was great to have you on the team. I hope we can pull teams together for some more of these races in the future.

  3. December 16, 2009 9:35 am

    Looks like it was tough. I have an unexperienced running team to do it with in California. We have some runners that don’t have any experience at long distance at all. Do you think we will suffer from that? Good article though.

    • December 16, 2009 12:50 pm

      Thanks Mark.

      When I ran this, I didn’t have much long distance experience or much running experience at all. I had run 13.1 before this, but I don’t think it’s a requirement. I’d say that most teams are out there to just have fun. We did pretty good, but didn’t push it crazy hard all the time.

      The other thing to note is that you will be able to see all of the different legs before the race and assigned them accordingly. In this race I think there was one runner that did 3 3-ish mile runs.

      On average each person will need to do 3 runs of 3 to 6 miles over 24-hours.


  1. Ragnar Del Sol 2010 Preview | Running Relays | Guide To Long Distance Team Running Relays
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