Friday, November 7, 2014

Ragnar Napa Valley: Part 4

Ragnar Napa Valley
September 19 - 20, 2014
Part 1 Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

I figured this was worth waiting for because we JUST got our Napa medals in the mail on Monday... so I've been kind of procrastinating holding out on purpose... but more on that in a sec! We left off on us finally making it through the night (mostly safe, mostly sound), chowing down at a little hole in the wall cafe, and prepping ourselves for Legs 3. After breakfast, we stopped at the store for some last supplies and trekked on to the last major exchange at the Napa Valley Expo.

It was sometime Saturday morning that team captains and vans got a text from Ragnar HQ letting us know that the medal company didn't have the medals completed in time and that there wouldn't be medals at the finish line. To make up for it, they were providing every runner an extra beer ticket and were scrounging in their race trailer for other goodies to have instead. Every runner also got an email. While this a) obviously sucked, b) I was more impressed about their ensuring that everyone knew ahead of time (albeit Saturday morning) so that it wouldn't be a surprise at 8 pm at the finish. Much appreciated, Ragnar.

This place was nuts! Thankfully, it was also super spread out and open so folks were everywhere - on blankets, hanging of their vans, lounging on the side.. literally everywhere. We spent some time lounging, but eventually I think the last day's efforts caught up with us and we tried to get clean-ish, re-organized and mentally prepped for the last legs.

I really have no recollection (because you know, this was like six weeks ago) how long we were at the exchange waiting for our Van 1-ers. Eventually, they showed up and we expected Trista to come in and carry Van 1 home - lucky ducks! I think at this point we were hitting ridiculously delirious but knowing that the end was finally, actually in sight was carrying us through. Van 1 had remembered that we also had pink beads and leis and were spreadingn the Ragnarians Wear Pink love to anyone that would take some - other runners, drivers, and even race volunteers as we thanked them for helping out over the weekend.

Finally, we got to send Tina off! We hung around for an extra photo or two with our Van 1 friends and realized that Tina had a super short leg, so we booked to her exchange... while casually walkingn through the parking lot, we knew she'd be there any minute. Brilliant us didn't think to actually head to the exchange point first, and found that she'd be standing there for a minute or two waiting for us already! Yipes! Sorry Tina...

So we re-created her finish line for her so she had the chance to break the tape too!
One of the things I loved most from So Cal was our crepe paper (and sometimes toilet paper) finish lines, so I made sure that our van carried on the fun again. Success. And then Kate on her last leg through grape vines (practically):

Not the actual leg. But that would be awesome.
My last leg was my longest at 11.4 beastly miles. Though it wasn't as hot as it had been on Friday, it was still stupidly warm. Thankfully, this leg was flat, but it was a looooong stretch all the way up Silverado Trail. Like my other two legs, this one also did not allow for van support, as it is just a 2-lane highway with not much for shoulder space to pull over. Teams were warned that if they were pulled over, there were plenty of police handing out tickets (I saw two cops in 11 miles, mind you).

I took Tina's hand-held bottle (because I'm a genius and forgot mine), my phone and headphones (despite never running with music anymore, I knew I needed it at this point). I had on shorts and a white tank that I knew I was going to ditch at some point on the trail. The white tank didn't even stay on until mile 3, and was in the trash can at mile 5's water station - again, all planned. I didn't even feel in a groove until mile 4 or so, was eternally grateful for the rockstar volunteers at that water station that made me sit for a few moments, refilled my hand-held, and kept the cold water flowing.

Looking over Mumm Winery.
There were tons of wine tours and Ragnar vans that passed, most of which cheered and honked for us, knowing that this leg was quite possibly the worst. I was super self conscious running in just a sports bra down this supremely busy highway but at some point... I just didn't give a damn. It was liberating! All About that Bass also regularly came on my Pandora shuffle and somewhere around miles 7-9, I was regularly dancing and throwing my arms up, excited that the end was near and I'd survived!

Still not sure how this happened... 
Eventually, that magical One Mile to Go sign showed its face and I was ready for it. There was a deceptive turn onto the last road where teams waited at the end of a cul-de-sac. Imagine my surprise when there were all of 3 vans there and hardly anybody! Turns out, teams were running so far behind, Ragnar had asked the last two leg runners to combine - so we drove leg 35, and let off runners 11 and 12 to run the very last leg together to the finish. Understandably, thought I'd be bummed if that had affected me, but Kristin and Jill took it like champs and rocked the last 5 miles together!

One of my favorite people in the world doing my favorite post-run thing ever.
Despite being nearly 8 pm at this point, the finish line was hopping and buzzing just as much as ever. Van 1 had been there for a while, and I forgot that definitely affects you as a Van 2-er (because I don't remember much of that from DC). We found our folks and got ready to rock the last two in and get our team across the finish line!

Done and done! 
When we got through the finish line, we headed to the final station to turn in our things and find out what our make-up medals were. The extremely rude (I'm assuming extremely tired) volunteer slammed down 6 belt buckles and grumbled, "This is all we have left." "6? But there are 12 of us..." "Well, we've got 6 and that's it. Grumble grumble..." The only part of this that worked in our favor is that 6 of us were receiving our Gold Rush medals for completing So Cal and Napa - so we got our gold medals and gave the 6 non-GR folks the belt buckles so they still had something to take home. Despite the rude volunteer, this worked out okay.

When I got home, I emailed Ragnar about the situation, who very graciously sent me 6 more belt buckles and our car decals we never got, all within  a week or so of the race wrapping up. She was awesome and I'm grateful for wonderful folks at Ragnar HQ.

The trifecta is complete! 
I promise, I tried to keep this condensed, but apparently there are a lot more stories out of Napa than any other Ragnar I've done. Hopefully you've enjoyed! 

Ragnar Napa Final Thoughts
- Overall, felt significantly more organized than So Cal
- Though smaller than So Cal, so bear that in mind
- Napa can provide you any kind of weather it wants: it poured in 2013, and was blazing hot in 2014. Prep for either way and/or stalk the weather for like three months leading up to it so you can psych yourself up for it! 
- Beautiful scenery! 
- Disappointed with the medals (duh), but appreciative of Ragnar's proactive approach - minus the rude volunteer, their customer service feedback about the situation was outstanding
- If you're gonna do it, and especially travel a decent way in, stay until Monday so you can go play in vineyards to recuperate on Sunday! 

Have you run Ragnar Napa? Your thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment