This ended up being a pretty action packed weekend as I was competing in the Central Florida Ragnar Relay. Competition is too strong a word as this was really a chance to go out and have some fun running. For those who have never heard of the Ragnar ( http://www.ragnarrelay.com/ ) it is a 12 person relay race that cover roughly 200 miles in 36 legs. Each runner runs 3 legs with about 8 hours to rest and do other things between legs. It is a blast ! I was running for Team Helping Hannah raising money for Hannah ( http://helpinghannah.wordpress.com/ ). A lot of the teams out there on the course were working with different charities.
The Ragnar Team is split into 2 vans - with 6 people in each van. Van 1 (aka the wimpy van) does legs 1-6, 13-18, and 25 - 30. We called them the wimpy van as they had a lot shorter legs in most of their runs than van 2. Also we had one injury before the race, so van 2 was going to cover it 18 legs with 5 runners. I was the lead runner for Van 2 so I got to start with leg 7. Cindy LaVigne was the wrap-up runner so she got to transition to the other team.
My first leg was a double, I was going to run legs 7 and 8 and 7 was a fun and easy jog up the Suncoast Parkway Trail. Followed by a shorter leg that took me along SR 50. (You can see the entire course at http://www.ragnarrelay.com/race/florida/course_maps ). Here is are my first 2 legs run back to back for a total of 11.9 miles - not too bad ending up in Brooksville.
After that it was supporting the other 4 van runners on their legs which meant driving to the next TA and being ready when they came in to switch runners. At TA 12 we would switch running duties to the other van and get a pretty long break. That last leg had Cindy running down the Withlacoochee Trail to the small town of Lacoochee (folks from the Swamp Stomp might remember that leg). A train decided to park on the track blocking the route and Cindy got to take a detour and do some off-road as she had to run around the train to get to the TA.
We got a little opportunity to rest, but we headed for the next major TA (TA 18 in Mascotte). We had time to stuff ourselves with catfish and ribs at the Rainbow Diner and Mascotte and then try to get some sleep before we started the next 6 legs.
I love running at night and it was roughly 11 PM when I started out on the 7.8 mile leg 19. It was essentially straight down SR 50 to Clermont. Jim "Topless" was supposed to take over for me at leg 20, but I was feeling so good with the cool air I waved him off at the TA and continued on to complete leg 20 which was only a 6.3 mile leg.
That had made for a 14.1 mile run, and I was a bit tired. Jim had a 9.1 mile leg that was coming up - so it was good to give him a bit of a break on this leg. I also got to bike the last leg of this section (3.6 miles) ending up at the West Orange trailhead in Apopka. We saw some old friend there and chatted for a while before finally heading to the lat major transition at the Municipal stadium in Sanford. Here I was able to get some good rest (if not sleep) to prepare for my final leg - and 8.8 mile jaunt from Sanford to the Dollar General store in Osteen. I was able to get a hot shower (stadiums have locker rooms !) and even a decent breakfast before this last run. The last leg I had would take me 8.8 miles from downtown Sanford to SR 46 and then up SR 415 to Sanford. It was hot, there was lots of traffic, and a headwind - and I was tired. I settled into a nice easy pace and about 90 minutes later I was handing off the slap bracelet to Topless who would run the next 8.0 mile leg (and later a 6.8 mile leg).
Linda was there with the kids at the transition. had familial obligations for the rest of the day - so had to cut out at that point. The team finally made it into Daytona Beach around 6 PM that evening, and from what I understand the almost 1000 runners that were in the Ragnar had a pretty rocking party. Now if i can find a team for the next one from Miami to Key West ....
For anyone considering this - it has a lot of elements of adventure, is a lot of fun - and I suggest doing it if you get the chance.