About two months ago, Kyle and I were asked to be on a RAGNAR team by a family friend. RAGNAR, also known in Utah as the Wasatch Back Relay Race, is a 197 mile long race that 12 people team up to run. The team is divided up into two “vans” of 6 people each and each person has three “legs” of varying lengths and difficulties, all of which are run within a two day time period. Your van acts like a support team, cheering you on and giving you water or energy boosters as you run. What results is a lot of fun, a blister or five, barely any sleep, oh, and some running…
I had run it before with my family, so I knew immediately that I wanted to do it again. Kyle had never experienced it but it was on his life list of things to do. We were both sucked in. That same team also needed four more people for their van 1, so we, along with my mom, took the initiative built the rest of the team. In the end, our van ended up including: Nate Frederiksen (Kyle’s brother), me, Spencer Marshall (our brother-in-law), my mom, Lorene Kamalu (a wonderful family friend), and Kyle. I also can’t forget one of the most important members of our team, my dad, who acted as driver, coach, supporter, and drill master of the whole operation.
For the next two months, we all trained, prepared and got excited for the race. The night before, Nate, Spencer, Kyle and I gathered to spend the night at my parent’s house. We “carb loaded” with pasta, bread, and salad, decorated the our “van” (with the artistic help of my little sister Kenzil), and made our final preparations for the race. We were ready to run as members of the Cat in the Hat Bunch.
On the day of the race, we all loaded into my family’s suburban at 3:45am to make our drive up to the starting line in Logan, Utah. We received safety training at 5:15, and our first runner, Nate, took off at 6am. We all conquered our first legs in good time. All the men were super speedy, and Lorene and my mom acted like their tough portions were no problem at all. I was just pleasantly surprised I finished mine so quickly. Enthusiastic on how well we were doing, we drove to our next meeting place, Snow Basin Resort, to wait for the other van to run their legs.
We showered and ate at the resort as we waited. It was a beautiful day which also allowed us to stretch out on the lawn and relax. Thank goodness for the earplugs provided by Lorene which allowed us all to slip off into a very deep sleep. So deep that people stepping over us, large bugs, and very large flatulence from one rude passing by individual would not wake us. But soon enough it was time to race again. The weather, though in late-afternoon, was surprisingly cool which allowed us to all speed through our next leg.
This is where I need to take a moment to brag about my husband. He had a 8.4 mile run which took him right up a canyon with a constant upward slope. Many of the runners were wimping out early in the leg, but Kyle cruised through with a steady pace like it was no problem at all. In the end, he said that he passed about 55 people and only had 3 pass him (or in RAGNAR terms, he had 52 road kills). It was really impressive. I claim him!
After Kyle had finished, it was around 10pm. We drove to a high school and proceeded to eat dinner, shower, and the snuggled up on the gym floor. By the time we got to sleep it was after midnight but the rest was most welcome, even if it was on wrestling mats that probably had some form of ringworm in it. While we slept, my poor dad, our fearless van leader, stayed awake waiting for the call from the other van to tell us we were needed for our next leg. Around 3:30am we shook ourselves awake, packed up our sleeping gear and jumped in the car to drive to our next starting point.
And so began our third leg. Nate took off around 5am, but soon realized that if he kept running he would cause more damage to his already injured knee. Kyle volunteered to take over for Nate, and ran the last 2.5 miles of his leg. I was the next to run which allowed us to have our first and last exchange of the baton.
The rest of the legs went smoothly. Spencer dominated his long and steep uphill run, and my mom sped through her downhill without a problem. Lorene easily made it through her leg and Kyle finished off strong by practically sprinting through his leg. We were feeling good. Tired, smelly, and sweaty; but good.
And then we waited… For the next 5 hours before we could cross the finish line. Of course we took the time to shower, eat, shop, and sleep (Kyle found a cool place under a table and stayed there for a good two hours) but we were all anxious to get our coveted medals and stickers. Eventually, we joined with our partner van and all dressed in red “thing” shirts, we crossed the finish line. Success!
With all said and done, we had a great experience. Looking back now, what made it even better were the laughs we had along the way. We loved seeing the runners and volunteers that had dressed up. We loved seeing team names like: The Knights of Knee, The Van Your Van Could Smell Like, Fellowship of the Runs, Reese Lightning, and Movers and Chafers. We couldn’t help but laugh at things like seeing a boy selling Gatorade, water and bunnies… And little kids lining up on the street to give runners high fives as the passed by. Oh, and the honey buckets; they were like another member of the team. Most of all, we loved supporting our team and cheering each other on.
After the long race was over, we drove home and were greeted by a welcome sign made by the family members of our team. I could go on about the exhaustion we all felt or our sore muscles but the sign said it all:
“From sun up! To sun down! The sweaty cat’s bunch, without sleep, without baths, without stopping for lunch! Ran up mountains, past houses, thing twelve through thing one. They ran fast. They ran hard. And now they are done.”
Pictures courtesy of my amazing parents, Andy Bell, and my iPhone… Thanks!