Sunday, 10 September 2017

Ragnar Trail Cottage Country

photo credit: Diana.

To me, running has never been a team sport.  In fact, I have never been on any sort of sports team in my entire life.  So it was definitely a new experience to be on a team for Ragnar Trail Cottage Country.  My team was sponsored and I didn't know any of the other team members, except for Jessica.  So to say I was a bit anxious was an understatement.
I arrived at the venue and found the team campsite. The campsites were decorated to match the team name/theme.  Ours was outdoors/Canadiana.
Home base for the next 24+ hours.

I loved this team's Barkley theme,
 complete with license plates and the infamous yellow gate.

Our team start time was 10 am, but I was runner 3 and my first leg wasn't scheduled until noon, so I walked around the "village" a bit.  The start/finish area was there, the swag booth, a bonfire, and a cafe.

couldn't resist buying a mint green Ragnar visor.
I fueled up (grilled veggie wrap, fries: $10) for my first run leg, and met Skinny the Cat, who was very purry and friendly.
Skinny totally reminded me of Sheriff Mama.
Time to run! Unlike road Ragnars, which are point to point, Ragnar Trail has 3 loops of varying difficulty, that all start from the village.  My first leg was the red (difficult) loop, then yellow (intermediate) and finally, green.

"drunken donkey" MTB trail.
I was so glad to have the difficult loop done first, in the daylight.  It was definitely a bit technical in spots, but there were also lots of very runnable sections.  I did not see a single person on this loop and I loved it.

repping the Burlies on leg 1.
Then I had 8+ hours to kill before my second leg.  I used the free wifi in the cafe, tried to nap a bit, and had dinner (included for all runners).

The Fatboy Lamzac definitely isn't
 as comfy as their youtube video makes it look.
dinner: quite edible.

The yellow loop was completely in the dark.  I had my headlamp, but because the trail was unfamiliar, I took it easy.  I loved how the beam of the headlamp kept me focused on the couple metres in front, which helped me run up hills strongly. There were a few bridges, but very little in the way of climbing. It was very peaceful, and my trail zen was disturbed a few times by runners passing.  I realized it was my first time actually running in the dark and solo.  Usually, my headlamp runs are in the morning, and finish with increasing daylight, and the two night runs (Sulphur 2016 & 2017), I was pretty much walking, not running.

Then it was time to try to sleep.  Another first: I have never camped, with the exception of in someone's backyard, and that was almost 30 years ago. 
The night sky was so beautiful, a shame that
phone cameras cannot capture it.
My original plan was to sleep in the car, but after some consideration, decided that I would rather be able to stretch out than be crammed in the backseat.  But the thought of being in a tent with unfamiliar people was not appealing, so I put a blanket down on a tarp and put my sleeping bag on top of that.  It was amazing to see the outline of the trees, the moon, and millions of stars when I opened my eyes.

stupid o'clock and I was toasty warm.
It was kind of terrible to have to extract myself from the warmth of the sleeping bag to run my final leg.  According to the schedule, it was supposed to start at 4 am, but we were about 90 minutes behind at that point.  My phone was out of juice, so I dressed and went to drink coffee while my phone charged.

Pleasant chat with Jess in the phone charging tent.
By the time I got started on my final leg, the sun was rising quickly.  The green loop was non technical singletrack and wide doubletrack and was an absolute pleasure to run.

I left shortly after to beat the traffic home, and so I missed the traditional "We Are Ragnarians" medal photo. Photo by Diana, the team captain. ↓ You can tell I wasn't in that picture, as there are no painted nails visible.

Would I do another Ragnar Trail? Yes, but only with familiar friends as teammates.  I loved the running, but my anxiety was through the roof whenever there was socializing, and I hated the feeling of letting everyone down with my slow running.


  1. It sounds like it worked out very well all in all!

  2. I *love* Ragnar Relays, and would place them at the pinnacle of my running events. Now, I, like you, am not that "into" team running events generally. Running is my "me time." However, I have had the good fortune to be on teams with close running friends, and we have had fantastic times in the van. (I only do road Ragnars.) The running is, in fact, secondary to the time in the van. I have never, and would never, sign up "blind" for a team, because although I am relatively comfortable around strangers, the best part of the race is being with friends, you kinda lose that if you're with strangers! As an aside, our teams have done well, despite the fact that we legitimately do not care how fast anyone runs. We don't pick people based upon speed. It's more about how good they are in the van. We've just been lucky I guess. That said, I too have felt like I was letting the team down when I wasn't up to my normal speed. They simply told me I was crazy and to pass the cooler! Love those people...