Thursday, April 21, 2011

Southern California Ragnar Relay 2011

A few months ago I got a call from my buddy Mr. Burke asking if I wanted to run in the Ragnar relay.
I had never heard of it. Hell I had never even pondered running in any type of relay event.  One of his friends was putting a team together and she wasn't sure if she could get enough people to run.  Christian was game and I thought I'd throw my name in the hat as well.
 (not really knowing what I was getting myself into)

Mickey's Winners

Our Capitan was Denise Winner a real spunky Manhattan beach mom who once a top Ultrarunner in Chicago.  Her and her father Mickey had wanted to do this race together.  Sadly he passed away too soon and we ran the race in his honor.
thus our team name.

Over the next 8 weeks our team was assembled and we exchanged a ridiculous amount of emails. (I stubbornly ignored most of them)  Most ragnar teams are either 6 people called and Ultra, or have 12 people.  Our team had 10?  3 ladies 7 dudes.  It turns out out that the Anchor of our team would be none other than my best friend (inside joke) Dan Westergaard.

Well our  Captain  was pretty anal about making sure everything was well organized (love ya Denise) On April 1st I was talking to Mr. Burke on the phone.  He was planning on sending Denise an email claiming he busted  his toes on a curb and would be off the team. (How Cruel).  The little bastard in me also sent her an email saying I too busted my toes and could not run.  Denise was freaking out and it wasn't until I sent her a 3rd email saying that Dan had also busted his toes that she realized it was an April fools day joke.  I wasn't sure If I should be playing tricks on a lady I had never met but Denise was a good sport and I think it brought a little laid back unity to the team.

In an effort to help endear myself to our captain I told her I would run any distance during the race it didn't matter how long or how short, I wouldn't complain.  I think this got me back on good terms

The Course

Huntington Beach to Coronado

Vangina members - Juan

The night before the race we met over at our Captain's house to get acquainted in person and have some grub.
 It turns out  I would be riding in Van 2 with  the 3 girls, otherwise known as Vangina (a name we stole from another team.) The van consisted of myself (the dumbass),  Denise (our Captain) Megan (the Teacher) Barb (our rock) and Juan ( the Mayor / Villaraigosa )

Van TestosterOne
Consisted of Dan Westergaard (Mr.poof) Christian Burke (Creepy mouse You'll see later) Gordan (the hippie) Thomas (the Doctor) and Michael (the Attorney)

While TestosterOne had to be out in Huntington to start the race at 6:45 a.m. Friday morning. Vangina didn't have to be at the van exchange until around 10:30 a.m.

So this is Ragnar

We got there pretty early, avoided the long line and were were ready to rock N' roll.

The usual attire

Luna sandals and cep sleeves on my calves

I was first up for Vangina.

Me trying to spot my teammate who I have never seen before.
(Kind of pointless Huh)

Ragnar has a staggered start.  Usually the slower teams begin the the race first.  Starting at 6:30 in the morning teams were sent out 10 to 20 at a time until well in the afternoon.  I believe there were close to 500 teams in this race.

Eventually my team mate Thomas came in.  He was the 10th person to do so and slapped me with the bracelet (instead of a baton)

I really don't get out much to go running but low and behold my first leg happened to be on a trail I had ran before but in the opposite direction. It was part of the
100 mile Club endurance course.

 I look like I went shopping during my run

My first leg was pretty damn easy, I had wanted to run at about a 6:30 pace but there was a stiff head wind and I averaged maybe 6:40. I passed 9 runners and there was only one team left in front of us

I slapped the bracelet on to Barb and she was off to run a 5 mile uphill leg While the sun beat down on her.  My buddy Christian decided to join Vangina for the next 5 legs.

Barb grinded through her miles as we did our best to cheer her on.

Why we let him in our van I don't know.  I think Christian got bit by some radioactive mouse along the way.

Juan was next.  He was so fast I could only get pictures of his back.  During his stretch we took the lead a position we would hold for most of the race.

Go Juan!
Megan was next.

I think she wore black on this hot day to intimidate the competition with her toughness.

 Our Captain

Denise kicked but in her leg but was passed by some yoked out marine dude.

Christian ran leg 12

within minutes we passed the Marines and were back in the lead.  However he ran too fast.  If we finished leg 12 before a certain time we would held for 2 hours. (maybe we should have read the rules).  Christian arrived at the check point 20 minutes early.  Instead of  crossing the line and being corralled  he waited the 20 minutes before taking his final step.

It was about 5 p.m. by now and it was time for Vangina to go get some lunch.  We ended up at some place in Lake Elsinore.  I had a vegi burrito, it was happy hour and they had Stone Ale on the menu (YES PLEASE) but the were sold (THOSE BASTARDS)

After dinner we caught up with TestosterOne and dropped off Mr. Burke

My second leg

For my night leg I slipped on my kilt and slipped off my shorts.  I figured some free balling would be good practice for my nudist run planned for Sunday and if the kilt blew up who cares I'm running down  some highway in the middle of the night

After about 3 miles my support van drove by.  They asked
 "Hows it hanging."
My Reply

"Down to my knees."

Running at night is always fun and the brisk air flow kept me fast.

Everyone in Vangina ran good through the night.  Nobody got lost and the next team behind us was nowhere to be seen.

We decided to drive up to the next major exchange just passed Torry Pines where we could get some sleep    at about 2:30 a.m.   We were not allowed to start are next leg till 5:30 but really didn't expect are team until 6:30.  I was running the next leg so I had to make sure I was ready in time.  I made myself as comfortable as possible in the front seat of a mini van (seat reclined and feet up on the windshield).  After a nice 2hour nap I felt pretty good.

I was pretty much ready by about 6 a.m as. I was walking over to the aid station to grab a cup of coffee., All of sudden Thomas came striding into the exchange (shit). I quickly filled my water bottle sprinted to the exchange and was out on the course carrying 3 bananas an orange and trail mix bar without losing even a second.

La Jolla

My legs were a little tired but I was running well.  for the first 3 or 4 miles I was running on the course for La Jolla 1/2 marathon that was happening the following day. 6,000 people would running on these streets in a little over 24 hours but for now it was only me.

As the sun rose I cam down this beautiful botanical trail to the Coast line.  I was at the end of a cove Looking back at the city of La Jolla as the sun crested the horizon over the beach community.  The site was breath taking. 

I snapped this photo near the beach in La Jolla after my leg

 It was the most spectacular   Sunrise I have ever seen.  I really lucked out getting to run this stretch of the course.  The coastline was majestic and I felt serene. During the next mile I passed about 50 seal ions barking up a storm, of course I barked  back at the top of my lungs.
Eventually my path took me away from the coast and into town I had ran pretty strong but some of the elite teams that started much later in the day were right on our tail.

Barb was next and I wasn't sure if she could hold on to our 1/2 mile or so lead. 

When I got back to the van.  We decided to change up our running order.  Juan's knee was bugging him, his leg was next, it was 8.3 miles and we decided it would be best if I ran it instead and he took a shorter one.

It turns out Barb got lost on the course but quickly found her way.  She was pissed at herself and was running with passion.  We wanted to cheer her up but maybe that could wait till after her run, because she was hauling ass and easily held onto our position in the lead. 

Back on the course less than an hour after my last leg.

My muscles were tight but I knew this was the last of my running I would be doing at Ragnar and was ready to give it my all.  I left the exchange flying like a cat dropped in water.
I was ready to distance myself from field.  

At Ragnar you are given a map and told to study it before your leg.  At every turn their are small signs indicated what to do.  Sometimes it can be miles in between signs and if you miss one you are screwed.  It's easy to second guess whether you are on course or not.  So far through out the race I had been very lucky and found my path with ease.  This brought on a false sense of security.  About a 1.5 miles into this leg I hit a dead end with an option to turn without a sign posted.  (doh) I didn't want to but I turned.  I ran like Pee Wee Herman searching for his bike, desperately seeking a ragnar sign.   I was lost and had no clue which way to go.  I'm not sure if I missed a sign, there was no sign, a sign got moved or fell, or I'm just restarted.  (probably retardation) But I claim that I was so fast I beat the beat the sign placer.  

What now?

Well I'm not totally retarded, early in the race I wrote down our team captains phone number on a small piece of paper an stuck it in my pocket.  Feeling like a lost kid at Disneyland I flagged down an Adult borrowed her phone and got back in communication with Vangina. "You're Where." "How'd you get there? they asked  "Yeah Yeah Yeah,  I have no freaking clue."  After some vague directions I sprinted back the opposite way.  About 10 minutes later.  My team flagged me down and I was back on course after running about 1.5 out of the way.

For the next few miles Vangina stayed right at my side making sure I found my turns.  At one point a team behind us came out of nowhere from off the course and joined in on the race.  They too had missed a sign but instead of running extra this allowed them to cut a few miles off the course.  The dude was nice but I was I wasn't looking for a running buddy and I quickly ditched him during a long climb.

I kept running hard I was tired,  I figured at least one team had passed me while I got lost and wanted to get back in front.  Vangina was now gone when I came across a sign that said "Run on the Grass?" There was was no grass to run on but a small running path near by!  At this time another support vehicle was driving by and they told me that the path was where I should be.  Well after about a mile the path turned right and the street stayed straight. (Hmmm) I passed a walker on the path and asked if I continued would I meet up back with the street. She said  "yes" but she was wrong.  I doubled back adding at least another 1/2 mile to my run, by now I was frustrated and wanted to be done.  

I kept running through some harbor and saw some pretty cool boats including "The Black Pearl" (from Pirates of the Caribbean) a big old Cruise ship and a submarine.  The boardwalk was pretty packed but somehow I found my way to the 1 mile left to go sign.  I charged hard for what seemed like 2 miles (gps was dead) and came to a fork in the road.  I chose what I thought was the logical path (wrong again) and veered left when I should have gone right with just a few steps left to go.  Lucky for me the exchange point was only a few hundred yards away I heard some screams off in the distance beckoning  for me to come their way.  I made it too the exchange just as they sent a volunteer out to mark the turn I had missed.
I was done running at Ragnar and it was time to root on my team for the final 3 legs.

Sign along the way
Sorry Dude the sign told me not to.

Juan took off on the next leg and although his knee was hurting he toughed it up and ran his stretch admirably.

Next up was Megan.  She had seen the mishaps I had run into and decided to run with a map and her Iphone in case she got lost. We hat only 11 miles left in the race Megan had a 4 mile stretch before our captain Denise would bring us home.

 Lumberjacks were right on our heels.

At this point TestosterOne joined Vangina along Megan's stretch. I drove in Vangina to the next checkpoint to get Denise ready to run (she had the jitters) while TestosterOne waited at the 3 mile mark to give Megan support but she never showed up (uh-oh). Eventually we got a call from Megan. She had missed a turn and was miles off course.  TestosterOne and Christian Burke found our lost runner and got her back on course.  What was supposed to be a 4 mile run ended up being closer to 10.
(Such is Ragnar)

We were proud of Megan, she was delirious with exhaustion she didn't give up and persevered her way to the exchange.

Only 1 leg to go
And it's Sponsored By Stone

Denise was running fast and we couldn't wait to join her at the finish line.

The home stretch

Good job Denise your Father would be proud! 

By the way that loud ass noise is a little toy I bought for $1.50 from big lots called a  Mega Blast. everybody should own one.

We came through the finish line at the beach as a team.  Everyone was in great mood and it was real cool moment to be apart of.
(and that was before I noticed the cute girls in Bikini's lying just step s away)

There's only one thing that could have made that moment any better?

Free Beer

Every runner was entitled to one free beer courtesy of the Stone Brewing Company (one of my sponsors)
Never has a Beer tasted so good.
(I have a short term memory)
I'll probably be uttering those same words tomorrow when I'm at the Brewery.

All in all it was areal fun race and I would definitely do it again. I ended up running around 35 miles and my body felt pretty good. 
Thank you to my team for running hard and for putting up with my Shenanigans.
and a special thanks to our Captain
for bringing us all together.

The Good

1. We had a pretty cohesive team everyone was mellow and we worked together well

2. We were always on time to our next stops.

3. we got 2.5 hours of sleep which was plenty.

4.  Everyone ran their miles well and nobody complained about their duties.

5. I thought our mini van would be cramped but it was fine.

6.  The mega blast toy, brought me a lot of joy.

7. I carried water which made things much easier for myself and my team.


1. We started to early which contributed to a manditory break, lack of teams to follow in case we were lost and not as much commrodery with others because no teams were around us.

2. We did not study our maps well enough.

3. We should of always ran with a cell phone.

4. A mounted gps for the van with all exchanges programed in ahead of time would be a great idea.

5.  Team member not carrying water who got thirsty on the course made a dumb decision.


Dude the metal we got is a bottle opener. Sweet!

Shortly after the race the race we piled into our vans and headed back L.A. I had another Race planned for the next day and needed to get some rest

While teams pretended to be naked at Ragnar.  I'd be running in the buff for real

The Bare Burro 5k
The Olive Dell Nudist Resort
Race report coming soon.

1 comment:

  1. Yup! That was us! The wannabe-nude runners, team "Barely Running". Hey, we were trying real hard to trick the girls into running naked for real- but alas, it didn't work..... ;P