|Oiselle provided every team member with a Start Line Tee and pair of Distance Shorts.|
I had a Start Line Tee of my own so I hopped in for the photo. :)
|Sam took this candid shot of me and I absolutely love it.|
At the start, we were able to get some nice photos with the team. Turns out Oiselle tattoos are great for driving, not just running. A few of my teammates sported the tats with me for the weekend festivities!
While checking out the merch tent, a few of my pals pitched in and bought Baby Wilson their first running tee. It is totally adorable and I am so happy and excited to have such great friends. Thanks so much ladies!
Before long, it was time for the race to get underway! Our first runner (Suzanne) was ready to go at the front of the line in time for the start.
And the runners were off and the event had started! Since we were in van 2, we headed to the next big exchange to get everything checked out (safety gear, bibs, etc). We tried to catch a quick cat nap but a marching band started playing so the nap was very short-lived. Next, it was on to watch some of the exchanges. If you were following me on Instagram, I posted photos of most of the exchanges that I saw took place. It was fun to deem myself Van 2 photographer and take some nice running photos of the group.
After we were done with our first set of legs, we headed to grab some grub at the next major exchange. It was the first time we had real food since our breakfast that morning. Needless to say, this pregnant mama was happy for the delicious grub.
The next big exchange was a high school with "designated sleeping areas." There was a room with some mats on the floor where we could lay down and catch some Zs. I didn't sleep very well because I was worried we'd miss the next exchange point. I kept thinking I was going to miss a text message so I woke up every 30 minutes. Plus, I just couldn't get comfortable without my body pillow. I had brought a fleece blanket and travel pillow and I saw others with sleeping bags and full pillows. I was majorly jealous. After our attempt at sleep for a few hours, it was time to head back to the van for the beginning of our night legs.
Some of the other teams were blaring music at the exchanges and getting pumped up. We, on the other hand, were trying to continue sleeping as best as we could. Our van was out running our legs just as the sun was coming up so it was quite a beautiful picture.
Soon after this photo was taken, I crashed and burned in the car. We had a runner still out there and I just couldn't keep it together any more. If I wasn't pregnant, I probably would have just grabbed a Red Bull and powered through it, but I knew that my body needed rest. My teammates were gracious enough to take over driving while I hopped in the back seat and immediately fell asleep. I got in a few more hours of restful sleep and woke up feeling much better. At this point we had a little bit of time to kill before meeting the next runners so we stopped by the next large exchange and grabbed some delicious pancakes (not pictured). (Can you tell that I was thinking about food a lot on this trip?) We chatted, used the facilities, and cheered on our last runner in Van 1 before heading to the next exchange.
After Van 1's last runner went, it was our time to bring it in! All of the exchanges went off without a hitch, with one exception. At all of the exchanges, they were giving runners a heads up of the next team coming down the road. At one of the exchanges, there was a miscommunication on where one of our runners was located. Kate had asked the volunteer if they had announced #45 yet. She said no, so Kate ran to use the restroom. She was barely inside the restroom when the volunteer started yelling "#45? Where's runner #45?" so, Kate had to hop out of the bathroom and get to the start without her water, which was left in our van. When Kelly (the runner that had just finished) came back and explained what happened, we set out to find Kate and were able to give her the water bottle. Kate was grateful to have had her water and knocked out her last set of miles speedily, as usual. When the baton was last passed to Melanie, it was time to head to the finish line!
|Action shot of me driving!|
I wore my Road ID bracelet for most of Ragnar.
Thought it couldn't hurt.
The last leg was fairly long (8 miles) which worked out well for us since traffic was AWFUL (as expected). We had Sam set up as our photographer at the finish so now it was time to meet up with Van 1 and wait for Melanie. In true rockstar fashion, Melanie finished up the last leg with her fastest splits of the day.
|Look at this awesome photo of Melanie coming down the stretch...|
When I saw her running, I knew my tired and slow butt had to start hobbling/waddling towards the finish. They announced our team name as we were crossing the finish line and it was so much fun!
Our team was done and ahead of schedule (despite there being an added 3.8 miles added onto the course). After taking some photos, passing out medals, and munching on some pizza, it was time to head home.
|But not before taking a Chicago Running Blogger photo|
All in all, I had an absolute blast! Our team captain did a great job of coordinating the legs, managing the team, and managing expectations. Our Ragnar veterans on the team (Suzanne and Kate) made sure we were all properly prepared as far as food, clothes, supplies, and everything else.
Despite hearing mixed reviews last year and the slight snafu with the road construction, I thought that the race was well organized (especially considering the overall distance and despite my experience at the finish line last year). There were sleeping accommodations for participants, the longer legs had water stops for the runners, there were plenty of porta-potties along the way (and all of the ones I tried had plenty of toilet paper), the food at the various exchanges wad reasonably priced and delicious, and the overall atmosphere was one of fun and enjoyment.
I enjoyed that we had a 9 person team versus the traditional 12 person team. It made some of the driving logistics a little more confusing, but I felt that I got the hang of it pretty quickly. It made the event fun and challenging, yet achievable. I would absolutely LOVE to do this race as a running participant. I'm so happy that I decided to participate as a driver and help out my friends and teammates. It is an experience I wouldn't trade for the world! :)
If you haven't participated in a Ragnar event and get the chance to do so, I highly recommend it!
On a 9 person team (when you paid the 12 person price), even drivers get shirts and medals. :)