Up until last September, when it came to running, I was a purist at heart. No Tough Mudders, no Color Runs, no PJs or dressing up. I was a straight-up road runner. You would never see me running with a wig or bodysuit (that’s actually a frightening thing to think about). Colorful spandex is about as crazy as I get – and that’s only because my wife is trying to broaden my cold-weather running wardrobe. But that changed when I ran the 2016 Michigan Ragnar. Sure, I’m still a purist, but I’m addicted to relay races.
For those who’ve heard about a Ragnar, but still don’t know what I’m talking about, imagine 30+ hours running your hardest and cheering your friends for 200+ miles. It’s an adrenaline-fueled running event that feeds off your love of running and camaraderie. Our solid team of 12 braved the rain, started our journey from Muskegon and leg-after-leg, we made our way to Traverse City. I ran faster than I had ran that whole summer. Even with hardly any sleep, our team (like all the other teams on the course) would somehow find the energy to head back out onto the course and count down the miles to the next waiting runner.
When we finished, I felt like a champion – it was a similar feeling when I finished the Boston Marathon. This was different though, the team feeling and accomplishment was surreal. And then to think that there were 145 other teams that did the same thing. The GHRC had a strong presence on the course during those 48 hours – with the West Coast Busters, led by GHRC’s Courtney Hansen, taking the ultimate prize. Not only did her all-women team (which included Laura Scholma and Susan Barrett Tater) finish in just over 24 hours, but they also finished 1st overall…and second place was a full hour behind them. Unbelievable!
While winning Ragnar is a pretty amazing accomplishment, the race is more than that. It is about connecting with people, sharing similar unforgettable experiences, and challenging yourself to go further than you thought possible. We had 12 members and that was hard; I can’t imagine the teams that only had 6 members – those teams deserve a whole lot of credit.
Ragnar is the ultimate race when it comes to relay races; there’s not many ultra-distance races that compare, but there are a handful out there that you could consider. These races are really hard to get in; but if you do, are definitely worth the investment. Check out the 17 Best Relay Races in the US.
If you’re intrigued and excited just thinking about this type of race, some long races in the area have a relay component. Take a look below (or on RunningintheUSA.com), get a team together, and I guarantee you’ll have a blast.
- 5/3 Riverbank
- The Fred Running Relays
- Great Lakes Relay
- North Country Trail Relay
- Stafford’s Top of Michigan Community Marathon
- Kal-Haven Trail Relay
- Ragnar Michigan
By the way, our Ragnar team has come back together for round 2. The anticipation is already building…