5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Ragnar Relay

This past weekend, myself along with 11 #TribeSoleSisters, 4 drivers, and 3 pacers drove to Coburg in order to run the 304km to Niagara Falls as part of the Niagara Ragnar Relay. This was the second time this race has taken place (the first back in 2013) and my first experience with such an event.

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Like many runners I kinda read the Race Bible, knew bits and pieces of what this experience would be like, watched the Ragnar “From Fat to Fit” documentary on NetFlix, but until you actually race an event, you don’t totally know what to expect. So rather than doing a lengthy race recap, I though I would share my key learnings of things I wish I had known before I started the race. Because let’s face it, if you follow me on social, you know I had a blast!

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  1. Bring Food! Now this might seem obvious to you, but we were trying to keep our packing low and we had compiled a list of 24 hours restaurants, so I really didn’t think it was necessary to bring actual meals with us. I did bring bars, gels, Nuun, and other hydration. What I didn’t take into account was the short rely legs, long times in the car, and how speedy our team was. As Van 1 we had to be at the check in point in Coburg for 8am. I didn’t run until 1pm, so we were in the car driving from transition to transition, all caught up in the hype, and all of a sudden it was noon, and I had to race almost 10km without eating since we left TO at 6am. So If I had planned better, had actual food with me, we wouldn’t have been so panicked to find somewhere to eat and I wouldn’t have had 4 sesame bagels with butter and peanut butter from Tim Hortons.
  2. Bring A Pacer. I had a pacer, well two actually, for my 13km leg that started around 10pm. I was thankful for Billy and Brandon because they not only made my run easier by hitting the light buttons ahead of me, throwing out my garbage, and being giants and making me feel like a celebrity as we raced passed (killed in Ragnar terms) 14 other racers, but they also made me push to a pace that I haven’t raced all season, averaging 5:05 per/km over the 13km. Since our team was running for 28 hours straight many relay legs started at 2 or 3am and ran through areas that were a little “sketchy” – Hamilton lift bridge/beach strip area I’m talking to you. I think next time we will make sure we have pacers (aka security, aka wind blockers, aka person cheer leaders on the run) for all runners over the night shift. It definitely brings peace of mind and the social is nice too. file-1(1)
  3. Bring Extra Runner Lights. Each van was required to have two head lamps and two tail lights per runner. We had this, however at about 8pm, when both were mandatory, one of our brand new tail lights broke. Teams without tail lights would receive a time penalty and that isn’t what we wanted, so we eagerly reached out to friends on other times, and gratitude to Trieu Nguyen who had a bag of them and lent us one to race with. So I would suggest having extras in order to avoid the drama.
  4. Bring Attire For All Weather. While I was ready for racing and cheering in the sunny summer heat we’ve been having, I was not prepared for the 3am chill when the weather dropped to single digits and we were cheer along the waterfront with waves actually splashing up on the race path. Sweaters, warm pants, fuzzy socks, a water and wind resistance shell, or even a blanket would’ve been great to have too. Not just warm running gear, but warm cheering gear too. file2(2)
  5. Bring Magnets. So this was a weird Ragnar “thing” we didn’t know about but clearly others did because after the first transition we started “collecting” magnets with other teams names and branding on our van. This was very fun and fun to keep afterwards, but we had no clue it would be happening so didn’t have any to share. A couple notes on what not to do for your magnets: 1. attach a magnet to a bottle cap that will scratch the rental car, 2. instead of using a magnet use a sticker stuck to a rental car, don’t do it. Stick with magnets and make them cute, creative, and connected to your team name and social handle.

We had a blast at this race, and if fun and friendship wasn’t enough the preliminary results (as of May 25th) had us placing top 3 in the Open Women Category, yeah Team Tribe. We worked hard, kept our cool, and placing top 3 just makes it extra sweet.

Follow along  with the fun by searching #TRIBExRAGNAR on Twitter or Instagram. Looking forward to doing this race again, and being that much more prepared.

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6 thoughts on “5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Ragnar Relay

  1. Mariah says:

    Were the pacers in the van with you the entire time? My team is traveling far enough that we don’t want “extra” people in the vans, but are intrigued by the idea of pacers.

    • Heather says:

      Since we were local we actually had a third car. 1 pacer was with us and the other got their own way to the transition spots and back again. Our “vans” were two small for our other drivers (we planned two per van) so they travelled in the third car with extra luggage since most people were staying over night is niagara – so we had our “real clothes” too.

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