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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wasatch Back–Also known as the RAGNAR Relay

What exactly is that?
Hello Everyone ~ ~ ~

Wasatch Back Map
The Wasatch back is a relay run that begins in Logan, Utah and covers 191 miles of roads and trails ending in Park City Utah. 
Each team of 12 runners, or people if you prefer, are divided into two vans of six runners each, so each runner, or person runs three times.  With each run, called a “leg”, being between 4 and 10 miles long. 
The relay takes about 32 hours, give or take a few depending on how fast the runners in your team are.  Some teams are very competitive and run FAST, while others, like ours are just doing our best to get finished while having a great time on what they call sleep deprivation.  But we did have a couple of fast runners, Heather and Mary!  they were super fast, my inspiration!

Ready to run!
We are van #2!  Heather is taking our picture. . .
yup, as usual I’m cold, all bundled up till it’s my turn.
This is Van #1:  Someone is missing, they are taking the picture!
This is Erin, my friend, and our team captain!
Thanks Erin for inviting me to join the party!

The relay actually began on Thursday evening when our team along with spouses, and our amazing volunteers gathered for spaghetti dinner

The weather was threatening, but we went ahead with dinner as planned. . . I had prepared diligently to get the yard ready, not the inside. . . the weather HAD to cooperate!  Fortunately, it did, a wee bit windy and cool, but overall just great.

Dave was one of our Amazing Volunteers, he helped at the start line in Logan. 
He is also married to Nicole
after dinner, we decorated our “van”, well, ours was actually a suburban but we still called it our van. . .  Team work at hand applying the decal of our team name to the back of our van



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Heather had someone help make a decal of our team name. . .
This little guy at the end is how most of us felt by the time we finished this relay


The creative juices are starting to flow, it’s true, we should have been tracing our feet, I mean we are running, or at least pretending to run, right?  but hands were more convenient and easier to trace than feet. . .  I took more pictures than helped with the creative parts, I‘ve never been high on the charts for creative genius.

traces of our “handiwork”
Then we went our separate ways for a night of anxious sleep as we dreamed of blisters, sunscreen, and perfect weather. . . AND a great time!

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The next morning we gathered and loaded all our stuff in the “van”.  The kittens wanted to play and kept trying to get into our goodie bags.

The relay has begun. . . The relay began at the USU track, Logan, Utah
Van #1, of our team began at 6:00 am.
There are 1100 registered teams X 12 runners per team that = approx. 132,000 runners
That's a TON of people participating in this event
Time for our van to go running!
and. . .  ME
Happy and excited to be here!
This is the “RAGMAG” or instruction book.  It shows the route and what each runner’s leg is like with distance and elevation maps. Along with all the rules for the race.  
Very important to have this so we don’t get lost along the way!
Leg 12 was my first leg, VERY uphill, then straight down.  I was pretty nervous for this run, but especially this first leg.  When I initially signed up for this venture I was running a total of 14.2 miles, but with the weather causing some washed out roads, my total climbed to 18.4 miles, meaning EVERY ONE of my runs increased in distance!  this one was entirely uphill, followed by a steep down hill.  I think I walked more than I ran, but by the time I was done I determined it was okay. . . I was having a good time.
There was a couple of teams along the way that had those chemical sprayers that you use to spray round-up and bug killer and stuff like that, anyway, they had them filled with water and offered a cool down, what a welcome relief!
When I was done I seriously wanted to go get my bike, it would have been easier.
Our first view of Van #1
These orange flags are for our safety.  Anytime someone needs support from their team, the person leaving the van takes an orange flag and waves it as they cross the road to get to their runner with what is needed.  Here, Becky needed water!

The wrist band slaps on around your wrist.  at designated points long the route, the runner passes on the wrist band to the next runner and off they go.  Becky is passing on to Heather!
At the first major exchange (major exchange = where Van #1 meets up with Van #2) we bumped in to two familiar faces helping out as volunteers:

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The daughter and the hubby!  They were helping keep the portable shower/tents flowing with COLD water!  They tried to tell us that the bags had been sitting in the sun warming the water, but it quickly became obvious that they hadn’t been there nearly long enough!

DSC00083 They filled these “shower bags” with water, set them in the sun to “warm up” and then hang them in the tent so the sweaty, sticky, smelly runners can shower off. 

How these work is you pull down on the nozzle at the end of the hose and water comes flowing out of the mini shower nozzle.  It did the trick. . . sort of.

I barely rinsed off but must admit that it did feel good to get the grime off of myself and put on fresh clean clothes.  But most of all it was great to find familiar faces having a good time helping the cause to move forward!

riding along. . . it was an interesting phenomenon, about three legs before mine began the antsy anticipation set in, it was a mixture of dread and I hate this, what am I doing sort of feeling.  then as I got out and waiting for my turn, reality set in and I knew I was going to be fine.  about 10 minutes into the run it was great, life was good, exciting, and positive. . . I’m glad I ‘m doing this I would think to myself.  Then, as a run finished it was great and I wanted to sign up again for next year.  This was a repeated process for the entire weekend.  I was not alone in my thought processes, there were others that were thinking in very similar patterns as my own.

We saw many crazy things along the way. . . .


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. . . These are just a few

. . . and a not so crazy thing, we actually gave the man who this emergency vehicle was for, a ride to the aid station at the top of the hill.  He said he wanted a helicopter ride out of here, I talked him into a stretcher, but it looks like he settled for an ambulance. 
this was on the RAGNAR Hill, a very steep hill that Mary and Heather ran.  They were our fast runners, and they ran like the pros!

We think the man overheated and then hyperventilated, nonetheless, he wasn’t doing so swell.

This road is a the famous RAGNAR hill we traveled on to the top of the mountain where there was still snow and snowmobiles!  Remember, it’s the middle of June. . . In fact, RAGNAR officials paid for it to be plowed so we could use the road.

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Mary cooling down on the Famous RAGNAR Hill leg
cool refreshing water is her new friend
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Having a good time along the way! 
good memories, friendships, and stories to tell
Armed with headlights and reflective vests. . .
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we ran all through the night. . .


. . . Eventually we got tired,
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we stopped at the local high school for a few winks of sleep.
There were tired, sleeping bodies down almost every hall.  We didn't seem to mind that we were essentially sleeping on a concrete floor, NO exaggerating, it was cement covered with this rough carpet stuff.
so we, along with a few other crazy souls grabbed a couple of hours of sleep at the local high school.  This is the spot where we choose to crash, just in case you can’t tell which spot is mine, look for the infamous LOTOJA warm fuzzy blanky!

My night run began at 4:18 am, and ended up being my favorite, even though in the beginning it was at the moment, the most dreaded, I was tired!  I did underdress, and should have used my arm-warmers, as dawn began to settle over the horizon, it became cold, so I became cold, but not cold enough to die, just cold enough to make me wish, VERY much that I had arm-warmers and gloves, and it made me want to run faster to stay warm.  I ran into the exchange at 5:35 am.  I was, at that point full of energy, just finishing a great, amazing run while my van mates were ready to throw in the towel.  By the time we found the school, I was more than ready for some sleep too.  The need for sleep caught up with me pretty fast.
a few of us decided to get breakfast too. 
Real food sounded so amazingly good.  "Sounded" is the optimal word here,
it was real food, and okay, certainly not great.
less than two hours later we felt great as it was time to press forward on our journey. . . . .
We met up with Van #1 in Heber City. . . Hi guys!

In the end. . .

the weather was perfect, we had very few blisters, and the sunscreen was a good thing!

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Still having a great time
more good memories, friendships, and stories to tell
of course we always look forward to the. . . .

. . . Potty lines
The finish line!
By the time I made it here, me, being the last runner for our team, didn’t care anymore.  My last run was actually the most difficult, 7.2 miles long, and I had to CONVINCE myself to keep moving.  the first part was nice and winding flat, then up a steep hill.  From this vantage point you were able to see the finish line in the distance, with 5.3 miles left to go, then DOWN a VERY STEEP dirt trail with loose rocks all over, onto a lonely sagebrush trail, that seemed to last forever.  then UP into another subdivision as we descended into the football stadium of Park City High School. The last two miles were the roughest, and I actually stopped for a minute.  I could hear the cheering at the finish line, but knew it was still at least 20 minutes away for me.  I had lost my jolly ranchers somewhere back on the trail, and was having a bad attitude moment.  with the encouragement of a couple of runners that were passing by me  I MADE myself get going again.  1/2 mile out and I was beginning to see spectators, I stopped for just a second in defeat, 1/2 mile felt like eternity!  While convincing myself to keep going, the lady on the side of the road offered words of encouragement.  then my savior of sorts came running by.  He actually slowed down just a bit and got me going.  he talked to me and asked me questions and kept me going forward.  then we rounded the corner and I saw my team waiting for me, what a boost of strength, all of a sudden I found what I needed to be strong and run into the stadium with the support of friends, team members and waiting families.  It was truly an amazing, energizing moment that I will not forget. 
In  part, that’s why I do this stuff, it gives such an eternal perspective.  when life gets down, I reflect on moments like this and it gives me the strength to carry on.
Bringing us all home . . .  We’re finally there!
In one of our church hymns it says:
We must the onward path pursue, as wider fields expand to view, and follow him unceasingly, what ever our lot or sphere may be For thrones, dominions, kingdoms, pow’rs, And glory great and bliss are ours, If we, throughout eternity,  Obey his words, “Come, follow me.”

What a great truth!  I know it’s only a relay, a sporting event, but had I given up.  Had I not taken the encouragement of those around me, I would not have been able to experience the incredible feelings of seeing friends, family, or satisfaction of completing something that was at the moment hard for me to do. . .  endure to the end and finish the race!
families joined together again, it was a great weekend
Mary is my sister-in-law and a great runner
It was wonderful to have her join me on this adventure!
me thinks these peeps had it right from the beginning
Anyone who participates in this run is a hero
our reward, after our registration fee, oh yes, I PAID money to do this!
And. . .
a window decal
Our team at the finish line!
Waiting for everyone to claim their belongings before heading for home
From the first time I was introduced to this tree I have been fascinated by it.  The story is, that people running RAGNAR, Wasatch Back, retire their shoes to the “shoe tree”.  Now I get it, but I didn’t retire any shoes, mine are still relatively new and in perfect functioning order.

After the RAGNAR relay is all said and done, what a great experience!

The burning question still stands. . . .


would I do it again? . . . .
It’s now been a couple of weeks and I have to admit, I have signed up for next year. . . anyone else in for a good time on no sleep, in anxious anticipation for their next leg to begin?  Come join in the fun, but hurry, space is limited. . . first come. . . next in. . .  until our team is filled.



  1. Looks like so much fun!! Maybe one day I will join the fun!

  2. Chels: We would love to have you! We will know by the end of the week how many from this year will re-sign up, if you think you are ready for an adventure, mid June 2012 let Erin know. . . . soooo good to hear from you!