Reflecting on Ragnar by Christopher Piché
Barely running a month with Frontrunners, Ragnar was brought up at runs and dinner a few weeks in a row, and it did intrigue me. This 24-hour long run, straight through the day and night, passing along the hot highway in day, and through the cool windy night, hearing nothing much but the grass blowing.
I was a last minute edition to my team of 12, only tentatively committing two days before the race. We started as 5 Canadians from hopping into a car, through the border and to the race start, and our respective teams. We reached the start point, some of us meeting for the first time, others not. Our first runner was off and so was our van with the remaining 5 runners. Hopping into a van with strangers sound fine, right? They did have Kind bars, after all.
As each leg progressed, the energy picked up, conversations developed, and the ice was broken. At the end of each leg, the mix of runners changed, the scenery did too, and we got to know each other in these constantly mixing groups. After our first round of legs, it was off to van 2, and a chance to meet more of the three teams, or to get real personal and stretch and foam roller on the lawn.
In tight quarters, we got into our groove of getting runners exchanged and refuelling our spent runner - straight to the back seat of the van, gatorade and Kind bar, stat! Each leg had it's own feel, some more serene and meditative than others, others more energetic with lights, music, ice cream, costumes.
The Ragnar vans all followed, from a small group in our wave, to an expansive diversity of SUVs and minivans. The excitement increased, silliness ensued (how many "kills" or people did you pass? how many other teams "tagged" our van with their magnets? where did Robb go for ice cream now? Who is that wearing a blanket like a nun's habit?). The costumes and decorations showed the true spirit of Ragnar.
Sleeping quarters were curious, some may have changed in questionably open areas, and there was no shortage of eating or sweating. More than a few people slept outside that night, if sleep could be found!
Finishing our final legs, the wait was on to hear our team announced, and to sweep through the finish line as a crew of 12 diverse and determined runners. What brilliant cheer every team had as they passed through as a unified group of Frontrunners!
Totally tired, more food and drink was consumed and then the drive back to Seattle, which felt oddly louder than usual.
The thing about Ragnar is that it didn't end after the run - plans were made to meet up and make the most of the rest of the weekend. Dinner, then drinks, and dancing. Some had to be carried to the bar lest they go home to sleep, and others - *cough* not me *cough* - were precariously low to the dance floor after so much running, and were eager to keep others dancing.
Brunch the next day was a moment to connect, celebrate, and to remember not only the accomplishments of our 3 teams, but also the community that we found, the memories that we made - Ragnar brought together more than 4 Frontrunners groups, creating lasting bonds.
So, don't just think of Ragnar as a race, a run, an event - it's too lasting just for that. Think of it as a memory, an achievement, a community.