Top 11 Runners – #1 Gabe

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And topping off the mileage list, Me. I’m not going to lie, it feels really anticlimactic announcing myself since I’m the only one who’s run every single one of these races, 5 in total for 82.66 miles but I thought I’d share some thoughts and memories from years past.

Some things I remember the most in the last 5 years

From Ragnar Chicago ’15 – The night run was exhilarating, kinda scary, and SO much fun. Also running the last leg of the race…having a runner come up and run with me for about a mile and a half when I was spent and encouraging me along the way to stay running with her to keep me going. I let her go and then about 10 minutes later saw my team and then my family. It was an incredible feeling. We pulled it off!

Ragnar Chicago 16 – My first run was awesome. It was high 60’s/Low 70’s and it felt great and I got to, I believe, run through Chris Farley’s childhood neighborhood, see a few lakes…just awesome. That’s where this pic is from. My 2nd run was crazy hot. A marine passed me like I was standing still. It was awe inspiring. My 3rd run, I cramped up and couldn’t finish. Most amazing was our team battling through the heat. They rocked it.

Ragnar Chicago 17 – I probably ran as strong in this race as any we’ve run. It was also the first year that Jenn ran which was a great highlight. I also had probably my best run which was 6+ and had a runner get a 100+ yard headstart on me and I caught him around mile 4. It was a great feeling.

Ragnar Michigan 18 – The cold. I remember the cold during my night run almost broken me. In fact, I actually called my Artie to come pick me up. I’d been recovering from a hip issue and my leg was stiffening up from the cold and I was in a TERRIBLE mood and add to it that it was 3:30 in the morning and I was practically in tears so I called. What did I hear when I told him I was 2 miles out? “Hey buddy! You’re rocking it (I wasn’t. I was way over my projected pace), we believe in you and can’t wait to see you in a bit!!!” Click.

That’s all I needed to get my butt moving and I saw them in 20 minutes, stumbled to the van, sat in the front seat, and passed out for about a half hour until I woke up to him blinking out as we got within 10 minutes of where were stopping to sleep that night and wait for Van 1 to meet us for our last set of legs.

Ragnar Michigan 19 – I sought revenge on my night run. I was 3 minutes/mile faster which was awesome but I rolled my ankle halfway through, tweaking my groin in the process so it still sucked and I vowed to never run that leg of the race ever again. Beyond that, I had to flip my last run to a shorter run, which had a ton of downhill which should have been a blast but because of the groin, I just couldn’t let it rip like I hoped. It was still kind of fun. This year also was the first time we tried something different from any other race. We rented a house in a placed that was positioned midrace. It was big enough to hold us all but it worked out perfectly so that Van 1 could hand off after their 2nd set of runs to Van 2, who would take the baton and run. Van 1 would drive about an hour north, catch about 4 hours of solid sleep in an actual bed vs the back of a van, and then only have a 20 minute drive to the next major exchange. The process was repeated when Van 2 handed off to Van 1 for their last set of legs and Van 2 only had a 20 minute drive to the house, caught 4-5 hours of sleep, and then had a 40 minute drive to the next exchange. In theory it was set up to be a pretty good idea. It could have been a huge waste of time and money if the timing of everything didn’t work out. What it was though was absolutely perfect. Van 1 coming in for the last last legs looked refreshed, if not giddy and when we grabbed a shower and hit the sack at around 5:30 knowing we’d not have to hit the trail till 11, it was a thing of beauty. If we ever do a road relay again, I’m not sure if it’ll be a possibility, however, we’ll make every attempt to do that again. It was a gamechanger.

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Having done this now for 5 races, each year has brought a host of challenges related to running, fundraising, and even personnel. It’s not always easy getting enough runners. It’s not always easy getting the fundraising steadily flowing. It’s not always easy getting the right mix of runners or beyond that, runners to do this more than a year or two. It’s been uncommon to get runners beyond 2 years. It’s all hard but we’ve been able to accomplish a lot and that’s a great feeling.

2020 has been our hardest year yet because it’s led to a dead-end which is such a gut punch because of how well it started. We had our best month ever followed but not much of anything really and it all fell apart.

But 2021 looms and there’s a tremendous amount of hope that it’ll be a year that’s filled with health, hope, inspiration, with even more running and generosity. To those that have supported us over the last 5 years, the expectation is to aim higher than our normally lofty goals.

Please stay in touch because those announcements will be coming soon!

Sincerely,

Gabe

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