Ragnar Relay – Northwest Passage 2011 – We B Runnin

What a fun and amazing experience it was to run the Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay with great long time friends and new friends.


  This is my third time running this race.  I was blow away by how pretty it was.  How did I not see it the last two times?  


A couple of reasons I think –  van 2 (so different sections of the race). And different start time.  

Van 1 headed up on thursday night to stay at the cutest house of all times (can I move in?).

 Andrea on our team opened up her home to everyone.  She was so kind and generous.  Van 1 plus their amazing, handsome and fun loving driver, Owen, spent the night in Sedro Wolley, Wa.  They woke up early Friday morning and drove up to the start a line for a chilly 7:00am start time.  

Van 2 slept in and headed up north around 9:00am.   In my van were, two friends and former running partners.  It was great to spend time with Julie and Stacey (after 8 years in Spokane) again.

 Also in our van was Kathie, her sister Katrina and her friend Dixie.  I knew Kathie from church.

 Her sister was flying up from Utah to run and her husband, Joe, agreed to be our driver.  

Dixie was a friend of Dixie’s that I had met a couple of times prior to the race.  

We started our legs in Bellingham.  There was lots of construction on I-5, so I had seen an alternate route suggestion of driving Route 11 from Burlington to Bellingham. It is beautiful. You drive along the coast.  Highly recommend it on a beautiful sunny morning or afternoon.  Can’t wait to go back and take pictures and play along the coast.

One draw back of van 2 is that the other team has started but it seems like you are just waiting and waiting.  It has been 3 years since I have been in van 1.  Sure miss the breakfast when you are done.  

The race finally starts for us when the van is painted and when then other van arrives so that you know that the other runner is near.  It was fun to see the van show up.  Having a team where everyone doesn’t know everyone makes for interesting exchanges.  Our runner number 6 had never met runner 7.  They are in different vans so when Andrea was running into the exchange, she did know who the runner she was suppose to hand off to nor did Julie know what girl she was looking for to get the bracelet from.  Tamie saved  the day by pointing at Julie so Andrea knew to run to.  Better situation than the runner who had no one there to run.  After the crowd startup chant the team number thanks to Owen. He finally resorted to calling his team to find out where they were.

Once your team starts you get into repeat mode and time flies by.  Your runner takes off and you say good bye to van 1.  Your van gets into the van and drives 2-3 miles ahead.  As you pass your runner you honk and cheer out the window for your runner.  At the 2-3 lie mark you find a spot to pull over and the van empties as you get out to wait for your runner to come by.  As they come by you cheer, offer water or shot blocks, what ever they need or ask for.  You climb back into the van and drive up 2-3 miles if it is a long leg or on to the exchange.  The next runner gets ready for their run.  Repeated 6 times per van.  

Some teams have drivers, some don’t.   I love having a driver.  They are amazing.  They take care of getting you where you need to go and watching out for you.  I love not having to think much or having to stay awake – sorry Joe during my brief stay in the front seat during leg 22, my eyes just couldn’t stay open.

At the next major exchange (ones where both vans are there – 6, 12, 18, 24, 30) you check in with the other van, see how they all did, hear the good, bad and the ugly highlites of that sections legs or how their off time was spent.

Off times –  some teams drive to the next major exchange and sleep in sleeping bags or their vans –  I don’t think that would be that much fun.  Our teams head for a hotel or on this race, Andrea’s home was the perfect distance e from exchange 12 – 5miles away.  Our shower schedules are based on our runner number.  First runner – first shower and so forth.  Having a house was amazing compared to 7 people in a 2 double hotel room.  We had room to relax and Katrina and her husband/driver/team chef headed to the store to buy food so we could have real food not subway for the a second time that day.  It is truly amazing how good a shower feel and how good it feels to be clean!  We had a bit of time to relax and slow down.  Some slept, some read and some just relaxed.  Once we got the call from van 1 that their last runner had started, we loaded up our gear and headed for exchange 12.  Thanks Andrea!  

We then repeated this series two more times – run, shower, eat, sleep?  

A couple of favorite memories from our van.  
  – we had dropped Julie off at the exchange because we were worried that she’d be late since we couldn’t find the parking lot.  We were driving around LaConner just at dusk.  Joe starts to pull off the road and we asked him why.  He said look back and we saw a cop car with it’s lights on pulling us over.  Immediately we all put on seat belts and sat up straight.  Joe rolls down his window and the cop tells him how to turn on the back lights and then does it for him and walks away.  How many times did he do that for all the rented vans that night.  We all laughed and took off the seat belts.
– during out last set of legs we gave away licorice to the runners and passing by bikers.  I love the thrill of a 70plus man taking one from you. 

Once again the chance to be something bigger than you could ever be on your own is part of what being on a team is all about.  I would still run even if I didn’t run relays, but I am sure I wouldn’t run as many hills or try to increase my pace.

I felt stronger on this run even though my times were slower than on the last relay. I was able to run more hilly legs than ever.  Never have I had three legs with three large hills.  Most exciting was that I was able to kick in at the end, okay going downhill helped, but I was running hard and fast and felt the surge of pushing hard.  

As my sister said best –  this next part was “Icing on the cake to a great weekend”.  I couldn’t agree more.  We were in the sub-masters (everyone had to be over 30) women’s division.  I had look at last years top three times (Ragnar awards the top 3 places in each division batons) and based on our projected times we were an hour or so from the third place time.   Turns out we ran fast enough to get third in our category.  28 hours 30 minutes.  What a great intro to Ragnar Relays for our 6 neebies.  I think we have 6 more runners addicted.

Learned a few new things this race.
  * bring 8 reflective vests for each van.  One for each runner and one for the driver, the floater vest is worn at night on top of all the clothes the runner is wearing to stay warm prior to running.  then when it is time, ie the team number is called meaning they are 100 yards away, then the runner takes off their jackets and is able to go with their running vest already on.
  * string cheese tastes really good
  * 300 teams is lots more than 38 teams.
  

Loved it if you weren’t able to tell from all that I have written.  Best weekend away in 6 weeks –  okay since my last relay race.  

Check back since we have gone to Kansas City to a family reunion with Owen’s family.  Hopefully we can keep up with all the fun times here to give you some light reading this week.

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One Response to Ragnar Relay – Northwest Passage 2011 – We B Runnin

  1. Kari says:

    Thanks again for inviting me to run with you! I had the most amazing time and can’t get over how much fun Tamie and Janae are!!!

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