Feb. 9th, 2019
Last weekend I did something that I tend to do from time to time. I traveled to a place I want to visit and ran a race. This wasn’t a new place. Ft. Lauderdale & Miami are places I’ve been to many times. I basically lived there from 1993-1997 when I worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Love the weather, love the vibe, LOVE the Cuban food. A real, authentic Cuban sandwich, some maduros and a slice of real key lime pie ? Oh man, that moves me.
But this time it was to run a new version of the Ragnar Relay , the “Ragnar Sprint”. Ragnar relays are usually 2 day affairs. In a regular Ragnar, you go from point A to point B . Pont B is usually about 200 miles from point A. Your 12 person team (or 6 person “ultra” team, but don’t get me started on those freaks) basically runs 3 legs per runner. These legs usually add up to around 18-24 miles, more or less. Your team starts early Friday and runs continuously until you complete the course, sometimes Saturday afternoon. I’ve run 2 of these races, both in Southern California, from Huntington Beach to San Diego. I’ve also run 2 of their “Ragnar trail” races. I’ve enjoyed all of these experiences. They can be challenging, confusing ( try finding a little directional sign in the dark at 2am) and a little scary . Like “what/who is that coming the other way on this road. Friend? Foe? , or just a policeman saying there’s been a robbery and have you seen anyone running in this direction?” Try to keep a straight face when you answer “ I’ve seen a bunch of people running officer. There are 150, 12-person teams out here”
True story. But I digress..
So, I fly out to Ft. Lauderdale to run this new version, the Ragnar Sprint. Pompano Beach to Miami. 60 miles, 6-person team. 1 van, going from exchange point to exchange point, picking up the last runner, dropping off the next. Our team is called “Built for Comfort, not for Speed”. We’re not trying to win this thing, even though that became our mantra throughout.
“I think we’re still winning”
3 from So Cal, 1 from Florida, Virginia & Texas. Some of us had never met until we arrived in Florida. But we were all runners, so we all get it. Several of us were nursing injuries. I had gotten shin splints on a long run 2 weeks before, so this was my first run since then. Others had their own issues. It’s about 10 miles per person, broken up into 2 “legs” . Running, then taking 3-4 hours off, getting stiff, sore and then running again can be a challenge.
So, how did it go?
It was bloody marvelous!
We started at 6:15 am. I was the 2nd / 8th runner , so I got started about 6:35. 7.4 miles , mostly right along the beach, watching the sun rise, talking to, encouraging, and being encouraged by other runners ( “good job runner…you too, good job”). Warm, a little humid for this So Cal kid, but flat and beautiful. Watching my friends, some of whom I know were a little nervous about how they were going to do, all finish their legs with exhaustion and happiness mingling on their faces. Watching other teams, with runners of all shapes and sizes, encouraging each other. I wore a running kilt, because I just don’t get enough attention, so I get the “what’s under the kilt” business plenty of times. I talked with plenty of other teams while I was “tagging” their vans with our team magnets ( another cool, fun thing) There was a team of French women. Yup. And a team of hearing impaired runners from Denmark. We talked about the Copenhagen half marathon which I ran a few years back. And then, at the end, our whole team , in our stylish “Built for Comfort not for Speed” t-shirts, crossing the finish line together, having a beer or 2 and celebrating with the world in general.
How was it? I love the idea of the shorter, 1 day race. The regular Ragnar’s are great, but I think the Sprint distance makes the experience accessible to more people. People who might be intimidated by the idea of putting a 12 person team together, the logistics of 2 vans, and running a collective 200 miles. I’ll still do their regular races, especially the trail races, which are a running – camping hybrid. But as for the Ragnar Florida Sprint, as soon as the 2020 race gets posted, Team “Built for Comfort not for Speed” will be on the list!
Next year, we will definitely win.