…the adventure continues…and finally ends!
Exchange 18 was very close to the Robert’s home and was where we would meet up with Van 1 and start out second leg. It was around 12:30 am – it was really dark and so cool to spot runners along the road wearing their safety vests, headlamps and red tail lights! I was looking forward to a night run – I was charted to start my 4.1 mile run around 4:30 am – that was as “night” as I was going to get. There would be only partial van support on my run so I was hoping to be done before the sun came up.
We waited at the exchange for quite a while for Jen to come in. We were around two hours behind schedule altogether and would really need to pick up the pace. The heat, the last-minute increase in mileage on a few of the runs and lack of sleep were things that we couldn’t factor in on a spreadsheet – nor could a spreadsheet reflect the amount of fun we were having despite the few negatives experienced! Below is a picture of Kelli waiting to start her run. She named this photo “Tron”! It was really cool to look around and see hundreds of safety vests glowing in the dark…but of course it doesn’t take much to entertain me!
Kudos to Van 1 and the first 3 runners of Van 2 for their night running legs. Stories of gravel paths, swampy running areas and deep darkness mad me grateful for the delay in our running schedule. After Jen slapped the bracelet on Kelli’s wrist, Van 2 was on their way to support her on her very long run. Jamie joined Van 2 so he could run with Susan on her night run because the van would be unable to provide any support during that leg. Thanks Jamie! We did our best to welcome Jamie to Van 2 by teasing him endlessly.
As it started to get lighter out, I knew my next leg was going to be in the full sun again. Susan and Jamie ran into the exchange and I received the slap bracelet around 7:15 am. Unfortunately I still had to wear my safety gear as Ragnar rules required them between 4:30 pm and 7:30 am.
I ran in gravel and then in grass until I hit the walkway of the bridge along US Route 1. I looked over and saw the most beautiful sunrise. I took a couple of seconds to thank God for it, snap a picture and turn off my headlamp and tail light.
Continuing on my run I was surprised to see so many people on the bridge. I thought they were Ragnar friends or family, but as I got closer I was that they were people fishing. As I got more towards the center of the bridge, the amount of fishers increased. There were little tents set up, lawn chairs, folding cots and people with grocery carts full of fishing equipment. There were people cleaning fish along the bridge and fish blood and guts littered the sidewalk. The smell was repulsive! So much for my beautiful “sunrise over the ocean” run! I tried to ignore them and focus on the beauty of the skies and water. I stopped again to take another picture.
It was getting hot out already and I was glad I brought 2 bottles of water with me. After the bridge, I was again running on soft grass which would lead me to the next exchange where I would slap the bracelet on Nancy’s wrist and drag myself back to the van.
After Susi finished, Van 2 was on “break” and famished. We stopped at a little place called the Seven Mile Diner. Again, the workers were clueless about the Ragnar Relay going on right in front of their establishment. The wait for a table was long and the service was horrible, but the coffee tasted so very good and I LOVED my chocolate chip pancakes!
We headed on to Exchange 30 where we would meet up with Van 1 again and start our final leg. At Exchange 30 we all took advantage of a little extra time to relax and catch a couple of much-needed zzzzz’s. Susi and I took a blanket and joined some other Ragnarians for a nap under a tree – the breeze felt wonderful, but it was too difficult to sleep. Just having the down time and a place to stretch out was great.
As we were waiting for Kelli to start, I saw the Ragnar man I had met on my flight from Baltimore to Tampa. He recognized me and asked me how my adventure was going. We chatted for a little while. It was really neat the he recognized me in the middle of ALL THOSE PEOPLE!
Van 1 pulled into the exchange and we waited for Jen to come in and slap the bracelet on Kelli’s wrist. As Kelli took off, Van 1 was officially finished with their legs! For this last round, most of us had shorter legs to run and traffic was heavy down Route 1, so there wasn’t much time for warming up and stretching out after runs. It was finish your run, hop in the van and get rollin’!
My next run was 2.1 miles. It was totally no van support, but that was fine since it was a quick run and the weather was cooling down some. I had a virtual slap which means that instead of actually getting the bracelet, you take off from a designated point. As Susan reached the spot, I took off. My run wound down around a neighborhood and then back up onto the highway. I high-fived Nancy and she was off. Van 2 stepped up the pace to make up some time and it was looking like we might have a decent finish time.
While Susi was running the final leg, we all put on our Team conFUSION shirts, met up with Van 1 and waited for her to come around the corner to the finish line. It was fun to watch the different teams meet up with their final runner and join them crossing the finish line. The energy and excitement of the crowd was unbelievable! It was difficult to locate your runner in the dark as the turned the corner so Stephen went down to the corner to watch for Susi. Finally the two of them came running down the road and we all jumped out to join them. I grabbed Susi’s hand and said “let’s sprint it!” It was an amazing experience to sprint across that finish line hand in hand with her! We all got our medals – (that’s why we run, right? The BLING!) – and we gathered for a finishers photo.
I could go on and on about that evening – shopping for Ragnar stuff, the gorgeous suite, the pizza party, the wonderful shower, cleaning the vans, the flight home….but, I won’t! Ragnar was one of the hardest physical challenges I have ever experienced (at times I felt it trumped childbirth!) and I LOVED it! Team conFUSION, thank you for the best 36.5 hour adventure in my life! I love you guys so much!