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Great River Ragnar Relay 2010

August 25, 2010

If you ever have a chance to do a Ragnar Relay, please do it.  You won’t regret it.

If you ever have a chance to do an Insulindependence event with Triabetes, Glucomotive, or one of their other groups, please do it.  It will change your life.

Last weekend I ran my second Ragnar Relay with Team Glucomotive at the Great River Ragnar Relay.  We finished the 192 mile race in 28:50:09 and finished 129th out of 286.  Our team was made up of 11 Type 1 diabetics and 1 Type 2.  We even had another Type 1 driver and a Type 3 driver (Type 3 = one who doesn’t have diabetes but is still a friend, family member, or supporter of someone… or an entire team with diabetes).  I’m sure that doing an event like this with a group of friends is fun, but doing an event like this with fellow diabetics is nearly indescribable.

I wrote this last year for Del Sol, but I wanted to describe how the relay works again –

  • 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
  • Repeat

My journey started at 6:26 AM Thursday morning, which was 4 minutes before I had planned to leave for the airport.  I some how managed to turn off my alarm or something and nearly overslept.  Good start, but fortunately I made it out of the house quickly and had no problems catching my flight up to Minneapolis where I met up with the rest of the team.  We all had lunch at Ikea (yes, Ikea.  The meatballs are awesome), and then drove down to the Winona, MN where the race started.

We rented a house for the night in Winona and enjoyed a pasta dinner, graciously cooked by the girls, and spent time bonding as a group before getting up a 6 AM Friday morning to head to the start line.

Our start time was 9:00 AM and our “token” Type 2, Dave, started us off and away we went.  I was in Van 2, so we drove up to Exchange 6 in Modena, Wisconsin and waited for runner #6 to arrive.  Van 1 had 41 miles to cover before reaching us, so we got under way around 3:00 PM Friday.  My first leg (I was runner #8) started just before 4:00.  I had a hilly 5.2 miles with 636 ft of elevation gain and 572 ft of elevation loss.  I ran this in 48:58 for a 9:25 pace through the beautiful country side of Wisconsin.  I was really taken back by how green and lush everything was.  To quote John Moore, our sarcastic driver, “Breathtaking, really”.

Van 2 finished up at 7:30 PM in Stockholm, WS where we then enjoyed some local eats and even took a dip in the Mississippi – something I could never imagine doing being from the St. Louis area, but up here it was really nice.  After a little bit of rest we drove up to Exchange 18 in Prescott, WS and attempted to get some sleep.  I considered sleeping outside, but after a whole 30 seconds, the mosquitoes suggested that I go inside to the local high school and sleep there.

I set my alarm for midnight (one of the crazy things you have to do at a Ragnar Relay) and got ready to run my next leg.  We started up again around 1:00 AM.  My second leg was at 1:48 AM and included one major valley and running through the haze and fog of Wisconsin corn fields.  I covered the 5.38 miles in 47:58 with a 8:55 pace.  The big climb of this run was “only” 200 ft, but was straight up over 3/10th of a mile.

We made it to Exchange 24 in Stillwater, MN, much to Van 1’s dismay at 5:15 AM.  We hoped back in the van and drove to Exchange 30 in Woodbury, MN to try to get some more sleep.  This time we all slept in the van, which surprisingly worked out pretty well and we got some much needed rest.

Van 1 completed their final legs around 9:00 AM on Saturday and it was our job to get us to the finish line.  My final leg started at 9:30 AM.  This run was a total of 5.96 miles and started on city sidewalks, but ended running on a very nice trail heading back to Minneapolis.  I had a good run, turning in a 52:29 for a 8:49 pace.  One thing to note was how much better I felt after this run compared to my final leg at Del Sol.  Last year, I had only been running for 6 months, so I didn’t have much experience.  Since then I have done a ton of great events and I’m also in the middle of my 70.3 training.  Let’s just say, I’m pleased with my current fitness level.  😉

After one *small* timing mishap, which left poor Anne waiting for us to meet her for about 20 minutes, our anchor Corinne, running in her first organized race, did a fantastic job and lead us as a team across the finish line just before 2:00 PM on Saturday.

We all spent the night in the Minneapolis area and had a terrific team dinner downtown before all heading home on Sunday.  I got back home at 10:00 AM just in time to help finish getting ready for my daughter’s 5th birthday party.  (It was a busy weekend).

This was my second opportunity to do a race with Insulindependence and Team Glucomotive.  Folks, this is a fantastic organization and changes lives.  This report is getting a bit long – it was a 192 mile race – so I’ll write more about Insulindependence later.

I’ve said this before, but the immediate bond that is formed between fellow diabetics is amazing.   This was such a great group of people and we had so much fun.  We shared many laughs and even a few tears (happy ones, of course) and I can’t wait to see them all again.

A HUGE thanks to everyone that supported me and made a donation to Insulindependence.  I am humbled by how generous everyone was.  I can’t thank you enough.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    August 25, 2010 11:36 am

    Loved that we were able to finally meet! The experience was absolutely fantastic!

  2. Anne Findlay permalink
    August 25, 2010 2:01 pm

    awesome! congrats! thanks for the write-up.

  3. Anne Hospod permalink
    August 25, 2010 3:12 pm

    Great Post Gary! Yes, poor little me…waiting by that infamous exchange 35. I guess we have no choice but to run another relay to prove that we are, in fact, a well oiled machine!

    • August 25, 2010 3:38 pm

      Ha… I keeping forgetting about my “well oiled machine” comment… and that wasn’t even about that incident.

  4. August 25, 2010 10:52 pm

    SOOOOOO sad I missed it! I know exactly what you mean about Ragnar, and about Insulindependence both. Both are life changing…together, indescribable! 🙂 I enjoyed the write up. Sorry I didn’t get to meet any of you. Maybe next year! 🙂

  5. Pratt Rather permalink
    August 26, 2010 6:42 am

    Gary – your post is awesome. I am reading/replying @ 4:30 AM, how Ragnar appropriate! You praise of the effect of Insulinsependence’s programs is most accurate.

    Cheers – Pratt

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