None of these accurately show just how tough the night runs can be during a Ragnar. The reason this comes in at #10 isn’t because it wasn’t hard. It’s more that there were so many other moments that come in that I’d rank higher. It’s been a full 5 years of running and fundraising and looking back on it all, my heart is full of what we’ve accomplished.
Conquering 2019’s night run was huge though, mainly because 2018 had been so brutal as well as because ’19 had some of her own tricks up her sleeve that really changed the course of the whole event for us.
While 2018 was COLD, 2019 had a massive storm to the southwest that had us all worried. The waves on Lake Michigan were massive as you can see in the attached video. It was pretty awesome but definitely rockin’ out there.
I was in Van 2 and we had handed off early afternoon, if I’m not mistaken. The good news was that as the storm was coming, we were actually already at a point in the race where we were headed straight north and if we could run fast enough, it was apparent that we’d may clip it just slightly vs taking the full brunt of it.
Van 1 got wet though. Due to a runner withdrawal the previous day, we were down 1 person and the race itself was a bit of a work in progress for us to cobble together the miles as best as we could. Coming into the evening, Kelly, a second year runner who had run the Indy-Mini earlier in the year, decided to take on a stretch of additional mileage that would end up with her tackling not only her leg of the race but enough of the next to add up to 11 miles. It was an incredible effort.
As the other runners in the van sloshed their way through the rain, which at some point was very heavy, in the very distance, we could tell there was lightning and we began to worry about their safety. Van 1 blasted through though until a lightning strike hit close enough to the major exchange that we were waiting at for them.
I believe Cherri was on the course at the point where Ragnar officials put a 2 hour hold on the race, skipping 1 leg. That’s where things got off the rails a bit for us. We’d consistently been running in the middle of the pack during the race as we had, what I felt, was no doubt, one of our strongest teams. We were ordered to skip the next leg which was Amanda’s and I believe it was a 4-miler. If only we could have gotten her on the course to pull her in and skip the next one, an 8 miler, we would have been up with the rest of the crowd. That’s not what happened though. We just needed 5 more minutes to do that and we didn’t get it.
What happened was that a lot of the runners we were running with were able to get onto that 6th leg of Van 1, pull their runner in and skip the 8 miler. We still had to run it which effectively put us 8 miles or at the speed that Michael was running that day, about an hour behind a lot of the teams.
By the time I took the hand off for the last leg of Van 2, there were only about a half dozen teams ahead behind us at that point, from what the official told me. I’m not going to lie, my heart sank. I knew that the rest of the race would be pretty lonely for our runners and have a completely different feel, and it did.
Van 2 wasn’t without it’s tribulations either. In the rain, Jenn had made the decision to wear a different pair of shoes so that her primary ones wouldn’t get wet for her last run. The above video was the start of that run. That proved to be a mistake as she ended up with some severe foot pain. Additionally, I would take on my nemisis of a leg in the night that I felt so awful during Ragnar Michigan ’18. My training had led me to that leg and I was excited for it, much less so when I learned how few teams were on the course when I took off.
From my recollection, it was supposed to have been about 1 1/2 miles of mainly uphill and then some fun downhill, which in ’18, I was in enough hip pain that it wasn’t very enjoyable. The map said it was only about a mile. In reality, it was probably about 2 miles because once I got to a mile, I could look ahead and it was just nothing but looking up. About halfway through after power hiking some of the hills, I got the point where it was heading downhill and looking like more fun again.
Admittedly, this stretch of road is desolate and if you don’t like being out in the middle of nowhere alone, you could be freaked out pretty easily. I was doing really well and then a vehicle that wasn’t a Ragnar Van came past and honked it’s horn at me. It starteld me and I jumped a bit to the side, catching the side of the road, and rolling my ankle left ankle. Luckily, I didn’t really sprain it as it rolled through it and got my next step on without falling but unfortunately the awkwardness of the step caused me to tweak my right groin muscle. I slowed down a good bit before taking off again, hoping that it would loosen up a bit, which it did and I was able to complete it with a time that was a considerable improvement on the previous year.
This makes it all sound pretty rough and I’m not going to lie, our track record with night runs isn’t great. I think of the 5 that I’ve had, only 1 or 2 have been good, but conquering them is something special and after freezing our butts off in ’18, to be able to come back and deal with the rain, covering for a lost runner, pain, and injury, it’s always satisfying to finish it off.
Some additional thoughts are below: