Tuesday, March 2, 2010

202 Miles is Further Than You Can Run - RAGNAR 2010

Two-hundred-and-two miles is a very long distance to run. It would take a solid runner (8 minute miles) over 26 hours to complete. That’s why we did it with twelve runners (and two drivers, but don’t tell the race officials) in over 30 hours.

This past weekend was the RAGNAR Del Sol Relay Race. This is a relay from Prescott, AZ to Tempe, AZ covering 202 miles of terrain and 5000 feet of elevation (6100 at the start, 1100 at the end). The race is broken into 36 legs ranging from 3 to 8.8 miles and each runner completes three total legs. Runners are split into two vans (Van 1 and Van 2) of six runners each. The vans leap frog one another as their six runners complete their series’ of legs and move on to the next exchange. Example: Van 1, with runners 1-6, completes legs 1-6 then passes the baton at exchange 6 from runner 6 to runner 7. Van 1 then moves on to exchange 12, and waits for Van 2 and runners 7-12 to complete legs 7-12. This continues throughout the night and into day until legs 1-36 have been completed. The baton is an early 90’s snap bracelet.

This year, I ran for team CBR, my company team. The team was a combination of both lab personnel (Tucson) and corporate personnel (San Bruno). I work in the lab so I only knew the San Brunans by name; I couldn’t pick them out of a lineup. But this is the best way to do a super relay. In my experience (four relays) the most fun part is getting to know the strangers in your van over the isolated, dense, smelly, trying 30+ hours together. While a 15-passenger van sounds big, it isn’t.

The CBR race became a cause with the creation of the Newborn Possibilities program. This is a terrific program created to raise money to assist families participating in clinical cord blood trials combatting neurological damage or disability – such as Cerebral Palsy. The objective of the fund is to offset the significant expenses these families incur traveling to and from the trials. Our runners took pledges (and still are) to support the program and the at-risk newborns. If - when you’re done reading this - you feel you’d like to support the cause, follow this LINK TO THE NEWBORN POSSIBILITIES FUND.

We kicked race weekend off by interviewing with the local NBC news affiliate who shared the story of our race and a little boy who has seen tremendous improvement in his dexterity since he was infused with his own cord blood. We were able to interact with wee Luke Fryar and his family and it was amazing to see this youngin’ move in ways his family had never thought possible (to see the story, CLICK HERE). It was a great way to start the weekend, establishing some big picture perspective for why we were running.

Running for a cause and amongst employed strangers set the stage for a race of epic proportions; however, because what happens at RAGNAR stays at RAGNAR, I will not divulge the details. I will say this: HR Directors are people too, sunrises are majestic, farts are always funny, “Eye of the Tiger” can pump anyone up (but especially a Philadelphian), men should not wear thongs unless they want to get viciously passed, Red Vines are amazing, Backgammon is dirty, just because a restaurant has a sign that says “Italian” doesn’t mean they serve pasta, Lulu Lemon is for everyone, you can’t make up your own nickname, and the f***ing Catalina Wine Mixer. Think what you will of that list, CBR RAGNAR 2010 was a glorious debacle – as are all overnight adventures.

My recommendation (other than to contribute to the Newborn Possibilities fund) is to find a race and do it. I know I said this after the PF Chang’s Half-Marathon, but this is an entirely different experience. After PF Chang’s I talked about the “we” mentality of the running community. The RAGNAR Race creates a “we” extreme (among other extremes). As a runner, you’re reliant on your teammates to get from start-to-finish. They’re supporting you no matter whether it’s 1pm or 3am. They’re sleeping next to you on middle school wrestling mats. They’ll snore like a sonic boom. They’ll pick up parts (if not all) of your run if you’re coughing up blood or about to pop an Achilles. They’ll put fake snakes next to your sleeping bag after you’ve expressed a primal fear of reptiles. They’ll hog-tie you into your own sweatshirt. It’s an opportunity to embark amongst strangers and depart amongst family. (By the way, the Homers will have tons more information on great races throughout the west coast coming soon and will also be regularly accepting invites to participate in these races)


In our case, a group of co-workers bonded over a passion for the outdoors, running, and sophomoric humor. We were lucky to have superb weather and 15-passenger vans instead of mini-vans. I feel lucky to have been included. Happy Birthday Johnnie and happy trails to me. The race was a success as we raised over $8000 (and counting) for the Newborn Possibilities fund. It was a success because we did it.

And we did it for the kids.

On a somber note, Robby Mayasich, an 18-year-old Phoenician, was struck by a car and killed early Saturday morning during the race. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mayasich family.

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