Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ragnar DC: Part 1

Other pre-Ragnar entries: Ragnar DC: Packing List | Ragnar DC: It's Here!
Ragnar Race Re-Cap: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

I know this has taken me a billion years to get to, and I promise I'll crank these all out as fast as possible. I'm really glad I took the time to write at the airport (I mean, I sat there for 3+ hours) so all I have to do is type out what I've already written. Brilliant, if I do say so myself, especially so I can share with you all the ridiculous details, stories, and memories that still have me smiling. What a race, what an adventure, and what new friends I've made! Of our 12 team members, I had personally met/known two prior -- others were friends on Facebook or Twitters (since joining the team together), but I really didn't know most of these folks! What a fun bunch we are (no, really)!

Think we have enough food? That's $190 at Costco... and then some.
Thursday we all slowly convened in Pittsburgh, where most of the team lives already, while five of us flew in  and one took the bus in from New York; Pitt is also only about two hours from the start line in Cumberland, so it was the perfect place for us to be able to get ourselves together before hittin' the road Thursday evening! Thursday morning I caught up with Heather and Michael after their red-eye in from California, and we all managed to be on the same flight up to Pitt from Atlanta, where we were met by Cathryn and Shannon, our kick-ass captains and coordinators of all these shenanigans. We hung out at Cathryn's for a while, gawked at the piles of food everywhere (!), and waited for the slow slew of people to show up. 
After the traffic disaster of picking up the vans at the airport later that afternoon, we were on the road for Frostburg (home for Thursday night) around 5:30, our ultimate goal, so off to a decent start! The drive into Maryland was absolutely gorgeous -- hills, valleys, and trees! Lots of trees. Given that I've never been in that area at all, I was pleasantly surprised with what the drive down there provided us (and me, as the driver). We stopped in super exciting Somerset, Pennsylvania for dinner at Eat'nPark (another new place for us non-Northeasterners) and made our way into Frostburg for the night.

A quick team meeting sent us into a panic attack over a missing vest -- each runner is required to have a reflective vest during night hours (6 pm - 7:30 am), whether or not if you are running, but even if you're just standing outside your van. Safety first! All of a sudden, we were down to 11 vests and mass chaos occurred... only to find that in fact, we had 12. "Everything is fine, nothing is fucked," because the motto for the weekend... I think we started to abuse that motto at some point. But, regardless, we were fine. Team shirt fun, vest fun, and a few good laughs later, it was time for bed and time for the adventure to start! 
The start line for Ragnar DC is in the gorgeous Rocky Gap State Park -- trees were just starting to turn colors, and the fog was hanging over the lake just enough to add a little coolness. Gorgeous morning! Despite the fact that Van 2 folks don't need to be at the start line (Van 2 folks are required to check in an hour in advance of our anticipated start time at Exchange 6), but we wanted to be sure we were there to see our first runner, Devin, off (duh!). Van 1 (Shannon, Alys, Tim, Maria, Devin and Dan) were headed to the start line wellllll ahead of us (we got to sleep an extra half hour or so!) and did their safety briefing and started decorating their van once they were cleared. The van ride to the start line showed that this run was going to be absolutely gorgeous -- again, not knowing what to expect kind of helps!
Stunning views, inbetween the pockets of fog in all the valleys.

We got caught up with our van, got to decorating! I really wish I had taken the time to take photos of some of these vans -- I assume a lot of the intricate and really done-up vehicles are from Ragnar veterans, but man! Some folks sure do have fun with this (note to self: next time). We had markers, which really, gave us enough entertainment over the course of the weekend anyway. The vitals: window to track kills on, our hash-tags (duh), and each runner's leg check-box for when we completed our respective runs... and then some random fun stuff as we continued (last post will reveal the best addition, by far).
Obligatory pre-race team photo!
And then it was go time! Start waves are anywhere from 6:30 am to 10 am, depending on your estimated finish time (or rather, how many hours it will take you), which is based on your average runner pace. Our estimated finish time was 30:00:07, so our start time was stacked in the middle at 8:30 am, which really... I think was perfect. Not God-awful early, but early enough to get the day going and get most of our distance done during daylight hours. Our runner 1 was Devin, who got a gorgeous 5-mile loop around the lake. We got to see him off, mellow out again for a bit, and headed over to the first exchange to see the first official slap-bracelet exchange to Tim. Van 1 of course headed off to follow their runner to the next stop and us Van 2 folks? We were on a separate (but related!) adventure of our own (mostly thanks to me and my ridiculousness)... 

Stay tuned!

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