Firs of all... WOW! What an amazing experience! I ran this race back in June and it will forever be one of the most challenging and enriching experiences when it comes to races. Let's start with what is Ragnar. Ragnar is a long distance (200-ish miles), overnight, team relay. There are several over the country and I of course, got to do the Pennsylvania one. I believe this was only the second time they had it here. This was also my first Ragnar race. So this is how it works. You have a 12 member team split in two vans, each member runs 3 legs for a total of 36 legs. The distance in each leg varies. There's also a documentary if you want to learn more about it: From Fat to Finish Line.
I was runner #5 and for this particular race, that meant I had a little short of 11 miles to run total. At first, I'd hoped to run longer legs but unfortunately I got injured after Cherry Blossom and had to spend some time recovering. It was a bummer but it was still challenging (oh my hills!!!), and lots of fun. The race started on Friday morning in Lancaster, PA and it finished somewhere in the Poconos on Saturday afternoon. This means we got to run through rural PA and were able to see some beautiful places. Given that I was moving to Texas at the end of the summer, this was a great way to say goodbye to PA.
So many things happened during those two days that it is difficult to include everything. There were obviously highs and lows. We didn't get much sleep since most of it occurs in a van while you're dirty, not much eating either, it's so difficult to know how much or what to eat when you know that soon you'll have to go run again. We saw beautiful places, made great friendships, I already knew some people in my van but going through this definitely strengthen our relationships. I've got to say the most challenging thing about doing a race like this one is not the running itself - you train for that. It's being able to run despite the lack of sleep, food, proper bathrooms (this was my first time using a porta potty EVER!!!), and having enough emotional intelligence to understand that your van mate doesn't hate you, he/she might just be hungry :P . All in all, a very enriching experience. I ran through very high temperatures, sunset, full on rain... I ran with lots of people around me, with no one anywhere for miles, close to cows, up in the mountains... All in all, it was wonderful and the only way for anyone to understand it is to experience it yourself. I would highly recommend you try it, preferably with people you already feel comfortable with, at least the first time. I assure you, you'll want to do it again. I know I do!