This past weekend I teamed with eleven other thirty- and forty-somethings to run the Ragnar Relay: Northwest Passage (Ragnar’s Facebook pics). The gist: 388 twelve-person teams run day and night from Blaine to Whidbey Island just for the heck of it. It was my fourth such team relay event (Hood to Coast ’98 and ’99, Providian Relay ’99) but my first since the Monica Lewinsky days.
Not for everyone, no doubt, but for me and the eleven other “Sandbaggers” it was a ton of fun.
Oh Captain, my captain. Sand Point CC General Manager Simon Spratley was our team captain — and Van 2′s main driver.
Van 1 kicked off the race around 1 pm in Blaine. Van 2 — my van — picked up the bracelet at Bellingham High School at around 5 pm. Both vans kicked some serious tail — so serious that by the time I was up at Leg 11 I had no intention of being the only runner to not beat my 7:30 projected pace. I ran my 6.8-mile leg at a little over a seven-minute pace — for this knobby-kneed weekend warrior, about as fast as I can muster. We caught a few hours of shuteye at one of our teammates’ parents’ houses in Anacortes.
Then we got up and did it again.
After my first leg: SERIOUS pain.
My second leg was a 6.5-mile run that took me across Deception Pass — no doubt the most scenic leg of the journey. By then we were all seriously punch drunk and wondering why in the h–k we signed up for this. Van 2 caught a few hours shut-eye on Coupeville High School’s cafeteria floor and then dug deep for our final legs through Whidbey Island. I ran my third and final leg with a bucket full of lactic acid in both legs and what felt like two torn Achilles. I didn’t have the last-leg kick that several others (Jincey G., Mike K., Cally B.) had, but I left it all out there, and that’s about all I can ask of myself. I passed the bracelet to Mike K., who busted out four more more dazzling sub-7′s before crossing the finish line in 25:44 — a full fifty-three minutes ahead of the second-place team in our division and the eleventh-fastest team in the 388-team field.
Not too shabby for a team with me on it.
I ran across Deception Pass at about 5:30 am.
Van 2 (clockwise from left): Jincey G., Mike K., Simon S., me, Cally B and Darryl H.
Ragnar is one of those events that’s tough to do while you’re doing it: running at break-neck speed in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night on no sleep while you can barely walk let alone run ain’t exactly easy. But the pros well outweigh those cons. The sense of accomplishment is very real, especially for a forty-three year old weekend warrior with no God-given athletic ability to speak of. The camraderie, too, is quite something. I met four of my five vanmates before the race but really only knew only one of them. Nevertheless we all got along like old friends and I think I can count them all as new ones. Most of all, however, is the sense of, well, being alive that one gets from doing events like this. Of the four-thousand plus participants, I doubt any of us had ever run in the Olympics or received a paycheck for their athletic prowess. Many of us were in good, but not great, shape. Nonetheless everyone was out there doing it, accomplishing goals and making memories to last a lifetime.
For a guy who believes in living life to its fullest, there’s not much better than seeing four thousand other people doing just exactly that.
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