Ragnar Madison to Chicago Race Report

By , June 11, 2011 8:46 pm

I’m home, had a warm dinner, took a nice shower and feel like a new person! The Ragnar Madison to Chicago relay is over. I’m not sure what our overall team finish time is yet, but I know we started around 10:30 am on Friday and finished around 4:30 pm on Saturday.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my in progress posts during the actual relay!

A lot of people (in real life) have asked me how this relay works, so I will try to explain it here too. The relay is 36 legs long, and goes from Madison to Chicago, covering 197 miles total. Each non-elite team has 12 runners, and each runner runs three legs. The distance in each leg varies. There are two vans, one carrying runners 1-6, the other carrying runners 7-12. While runners 1-6 run their legs, their van (#1) goes from point to point, carrying each runner to meet up and continue the relay. While they do this, van #2 carries runners 7-12 to the next major point to meet runner #6, then after the meet up, carries runners 7-12 from point to point, while van #1 goes to the next major meet-up point. Each minor meet up point has porta parties and parking, and the stuff at the major meet up points varies – porta parties and food for sure, but some had places to sleep and real bathrooms.

Anyway, the two vans do that leapfrog thing, meeting at major points, until you finally meet in Chicago.

The amount of organization behind doing one of these relays is kind of crazy. You have to get a team together, inevitably find new members later on when people can’t do it anymore, find drivers and volunteers, figure out who runs which legs, rent vans, coordinate who’s bringing what, when you meet, when you take off, directions, decorations (we didn’t decorate)… the list could go on and on.

I ran with Erin‘s work running club, and everyone was pretty organized. I felt like I didn’t have to do much except show up. That was nice! I was in van #2, and we left Chicagoland at 11:00 on Friday morning, to meet our team up east of Madison by 2:30. We had to do a safety check-in, then our first runner was off around 3:30.

I ended up running at 4:30 pm on Friday, and 2:00 am and 11:00 am on Saturday. My first leg was 6.5 miles, windy and uphill, but I felt fine. My second leg was the hardest. I expected it to be the easiest because it was only 2.5 miles, but I ran too fast and my knee felt sore at the end. My last leg was 9.8 miles, and actually felt really good, because I ran so slow. Overall, I ran 18.8 miles in less than 24 hours!

Everyone in our van had a really funny sense of humor. Okay, it was a bunch of smart asses. So that was fun. There was lots of joking going on the entire time. Which was good – you spend a lot of time waiting around for other people to get to checkpoints.

This type of race is definitely a unique, fun experience. I am not sure if I would do it again though! I think I am too much of a party pooper and the sleeping situation was just not good for me. I didn’t feel well rested. I am not used to getting by on less than an hour of sleep a night. I think if I did this relay again I would have the team drive to my house during one of the long lulls while the other group was running. We could sleep on real furniture and take real showers.

It was really fun finishing as a team in Montrose Harbor – running in together on the sand. We got really neat medals (here it is next to the shirt we got). It’s funny – we hardly spent any time with van #1, except for a bit of chatting at the major exchanges. I feel like we need to have another get-together to catch up on all of their experiences!

I am sure I will have more to say when I am less out of it! I can’t wait to get in to bed tonight!

14 Responses to “Ragnar Madison to Chicago Race Report”

  1. Jen says:

    Thanks for the summary/explanation. I think I’m like you…I like sleeping in my own bed and taking showers. That was one of my main motivators during the IM – I knew I could take a shower by the end of the day. I doubt you were a party pooper! You were probably still the life of the party-van!

  2. J says:

    Congrats on finishing the relay! Hope you are resting up from that 36 hours! I like sleeping in my own bed too. I have so much trouble sleeping when there noises and people around. Its a tough thing – but I am sure you were lots of fun!

  3. Congrats on the race! It looks like so much fun! I was following a friend on facebook who was racing it, too!

  4. Kandi says:

    Sounds like a cool experience. I’m sure it was nice that the people in your van had good senses of humors. I can’t imagine spending that much time with people who don’t! Glad you felt better during your last leg!

  5. Marcia says:

    Very cool, although I doubt I’d like the sleep or lack thereof either. But you can check it off your bucket list, I need to do one.

  6. Michel says:

    After seeing Hood To Coast earlier this year it looked really interesting and I’m glad you had a good experience!

  7. Susan says:

    Yayyyy relay!! They’re fun if you can do without sleep, so if you’re a total sleeper I could see how it could be more of an issue. Glad you had a good experience with an organized team! I can only imagine what it would be like to run without organization….gah!

    Love the medal. 🙂

  8. Kierstan says:

    Congrats on the relay…it sounds fun!! I don’t know about sleeping in a HS gym though, that would not be my favorite part either.

  9. Alice says:

    holy crap.. as a non runner i have to say that does NOT sound fun, but it definitely sounds interesting 🙂 and impressive! i love the medal 🙂

  10. Yah, that race bling is awesome! Even if you don’t do this relay again, you had the relay experience. I think everyone should at least try it once. It’s such a crazy experience! 🙂

  11. Kristina says:

    I don’t think I commented, so I wanted to – CONGRATS! Sounds like it was a fantastically cool experience.
    I’m so in awe of your races in 2011. Way to go!

  12. Megan says:

    Hey! I was able to follow the first two posts for this run and then my computer died so I am now catching up through my husband’s computer. Anyway – I love that you did this race! I did it two years – one year I was a van member (and slept in that gym too!) and the second year I organized (you’re right -it’s crazy work!) I loved reading your posts because it brought I felt like I was reliving those memories through you. I am glad you had the experience – it really is pretty unique – and I loved that you posted along the way! Congrats on the finish!!

  13. Thanks for the comment on my blog. The exhaustion can get to you for sure and relays are definitely not for everyone. I’m glad you had a good time regardless.

  14. Jamie says:

    Sounds like a fun experience! I had no idea you all were finishing at Montrose Beach. It is right up the street from my condo, had I known I would have cheered you on from The Dock!

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