If you are looking for an adventure, look no further than a Ragnar Trail Race. They are essentially an overnight trail relay race with teams of various sizes. The teams have one person running a designated loop while the rest waits for their turn; sleeping, eating, drinking or whatever else keeps them entertained. The Ragnar trail motto: “Eat, Run, Sleep?” perfectly sums up the experience.
Road Ragnar’s came first, with teams squeezing into a van and basically following their runner as they run their designated section. This allows teams to seamlessly hand off the baton wherever the section ends.
The trail Ragnar is still a relay race but instead of using a van, teams set up camp in a big field and individuals report to the Start/Finish line when their runner is believed to be finishing.
Section distances vary and the number of team members can vary as well. Ultra teams cut down on their members drastically so they can run sections back to back for an increased challenge.
I have not done a road Ragnar, so my experience is limited to the trail variation, and I will be happy to keep it that way. Camping out, being able to mingle with other teams, checking out apparel shops, and being able to go to the bathroom whenever you want beats being stuck in a crowded van any day.
For the trail Ragnar, there are three loops: Green (easy), Yellow (medium) and Red (hardest). For the races I have run, green loop consisted of about 3.5miles, yellow around 4/5 miles and red was just above 6 miles.
The start of the race varies throughout the day, depending on your teams estimated completion time and goes throughout the night into the next morning, rain or shine. The start/finish line is known as the transition zone and at times can be tricky, since individuals have to determine when their current runner will be finishing and meet them there for the handoff.
Participants use a racing hip belt with their teams bib number attached as the so-called baton, making for an easy handoff. Coming out of the transition chute after receiving the bib handoff, is a huge rush, but you have to focus and follow the colored flags representing your loop to get on the proper course.
Once on your proper course, the trail race begins. The transition zone also doubles as a cool hangout spot: complete with runner tracker boards, vendors, movies, and even a big bonfire throughout the night for smores.
Listed below seems to be my order of events after each loop, so you can use this as a guide. These may or may not be the best things to do in between runs so make adjustments as you see fit.
- Stage 1: Celebrate after your loop, drink a beer or two and talk about how badass your race was. Water is optional
- Stage 2: Eat a balanced meal. This meal is responsible for both recovery & next loop fuel, so it can be tricky.
- Stage 3: Get a few hours of sleep wherever one can find space. Or one may chose to eat, drink, and socialize some more.
- Stage 4: Wake up & walk around to begin pre-race prep, socialize with anyone in your group (or complete strangers) who’s awake, and make smore’s.
- Stage 5: Begin to worry about start time, asking around if the person before you has started yet or looking to see if they are still in camp. If you know the runner currently on the course, you can use their average road time (for the desired distance) as an indicator on when to get down to the transition area.
- Stage 6: Starts after you determine a good finish time for the runner ahead of you, putting on your racing gear and making moves to the start/finish line
- Final Stage: Once their name pops up on the 1/4 mile left board, jump into the transition zone, flag down your team mate, grab the bib belt and take off!! Then repeat
I have done 3 Ragnar Trails, each one sets the stage for an epic adventure. You cannot go wrong with great friends, running, trails and beer.
For other Trail Ragnarians out there, am I on point? Or do you do things differently?
Thank you for sharing