“Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes
no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances
on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the
approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted
from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense.
The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that
is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that
the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running
such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of
their being — a call that asks who they are …”
– David Blaikie
(I know it’s a long one, but it’s so good!)
I’m baaaaaaack, which means I survived my Ragnar Adirondacks Adventure! I’m not sure I can adequately do justice to what an UNBELIEVABLE experience it was, but I will do my best. I had no idea what to expect go into this event as I had never done a Ragnar Relay or run for a sponsor. However, I did at least have a few ultras under my belt, so I knew what to expect from a mileage standpoint.
Since an ENTIRE weekend of racing is A LOT of race to recap, and ultra runners tend to have a LOVE/HATE relationship with their miles, I thought it might be more fun to break this post down into The Things I LOVED/HATED About Ragnar Adirondacks.
FEELING THE LOVE:
- For starters, I LOVED LOVED LOVED the overwhelming support from our sponsors (Bondi Band, Shower Pill, Clif Bar, Chase This Skirt, Nuun, Energy Bits, Vega, KT Tape). Immediately upon arriving at our room the hubs and I found our beds decked out with goodies (it was like the animal shaped towels on cruise ships, but BETTER). Sandra, the super fabulous Bondi Sales Manager, had left us our Bondi Bands, compression socks, sponsor samples, and our Bondi Shirts which had the Bondi logo in PINK SPARKLES… Bondi clearly knows the way to a girl’s heart… Given that Bondi had already paid for our race, hotel, and supplied us with free nutrition from our other sponsors, I completely did not expect all the extra gear and goodies they gave us. The generosity on the part of the sponsors was truly beyond my wildest expectations.
- I completely assure you that I am not trying to brown nose our sponsor when I tell you that I LOVED the Bondi Bands. They were bright, colorful, and had all kinds of fun sayings which meant we could coordinate to both our outfits and our moods. It was super fun to switch out on each leg and wear a different option. Plus, they completely lived up to every claim by Bondi. I have have had some experience with sweat and headbands, and these are by far the best I’ve used. The colors didn’t bleed or run, they absorbed a TON of sweat, and they absolutely did not slip. They also were extremely soft and comfy, which meant no headache. I have now had over 50K of experience with these bands, and I don’t think I’ll ever wear anything else again. Luckily I have a whole stash now, so I can can wear a different one for each workout of the week. Likewise, the compression socks were equally top notch. I already own a pair of generic compression socks and a set of zensah sleeves, and while I feel like a traitor for saying so, I like Bondi’s better. They were more comfortable than my sleeves and had better compression than anything I’ve owned previously. I also completely put them to the test when I got a HUGE blister on my first leg (from running on the grass to spare my joints). I pulled on the compression socks for my night legs and not only didn’t feel the blister, but it actually got better (not 100% better, but dramatically improved)! Needless to say, I was super impressed. It was like blister treatment magic.
- I also LOVED meeting the rest of the team and getting to know them. It was really interesting to get to meet runners from all over the country (and Canada!). Together we got into some serious shenanigans and shared plenty of laughs.
- The fact that we were an ultra team was another BIG PLUS for me. I LOVE running long; so, for me, the double legs were a bonus. It was kind of amusing to me how many people looked completely stunned when they found out we were doing the ultra and asked why we would want to. I, on the other hand, was equally perplexed as to why they would only do 3 legs when they could be doing 6! Double the miles, double the fun people! For their convenience I compiled a list of my top 5 reasons to run a Ragnar Ultra so they could see just how much they’re missing out. I mean who needs breaks to rest or eat anyway? That stuff is for sissies!
- I also have to mention that I LOVED my night legs, even in spite of the fact that I had the suckiest climb of the entire course. Running at night with a headlamp makes any run seem that much more bada$$. Plus, I enjoyed the peace and quiet- just me and my tunes out on the open road with stars as a backdrop. What could be more perfect? It was an awesome experience… even if it involved climbing almost 700ft in two and half miles… without any flat or downhill.
- As much as I LOVED the running, I enjoyed Bondi Banding our fellow racers almost equally as much! Our team name was the Bondi Bandits, and our race tag involved sneaking up on unsuspecting teams and leaving Bondi Bands with our team and sponsor info. Sandra, Lisa, and I had SO MUCH FUN tagging the other vehicles and socializing with the other teams. The other runners were all super excited about the bands, which became a great opportunity to get information about Bondi out there. However, by far, the best part was Bondi Banding the other team’s mascots and getting photos with them, including a team with a giant pickle that we banded with “Suck It Up Buttercup” and a bear named Murray who got “Run Like a Princess Today.”
- One great thing about Bondi Banding the other teams is that it not only gave us a great opportunity to meet a lot of runners (and get them excited about our AWESOME sponsors!!!), but also gave us a chance to check out a lot of the other van themes and decorations. There were so many cool ideas out there (including a team of parents who titled their team “Every Child Left Behind”), but my absolute favorite was the “Twelve Hangry Blerches.” Their van was EPIC!
- On a similar note, being that this was my first Ragnar, I really enjoyed and appreciated the fun atmosphere with all the crazy themes and costumes. I have never been involved in a race event that encouraged so much silliness, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. From the costumes, to the van decorating and tagging, it was crazy and chaotic at times, but also extremely entertaining, especially when random people honked, waved, and rang cowbells for you while you ran.
- While I have to say that I LOVED meeting all my teammates (because we were an Ultra Team, and that by default made us all pretty awesome), I was especially grateful to have had Lisa (and her husband Jay) for company. She and her hubby are just some super cool, laid back people, and it was an absolute pleasure to hang out with them (including at our grown up sleep over party after the race when were bunked up in the same room). Adam and Jay hit it off immediately being the only source of testosterone in the group; and Lisa and I ended up running our last legs together, so we had plenty of time to bond. Thank you Lisa for keeping me entertained even in the delirium and sharing your story about your pet raccoon named Sara Lee. You are a class act and an amazing runner. I can’t wait to hear about your next ultra!
- As great as it was to make new friends, I also completely lucked out and LOVED that I got to do this event with my hubby. I was beyond fortunate that Bondi was willing to sponsor my race entry, but the fact that they invited him too was beyond anything I could have hoped for. I am so lucky to have a husband that not only understands, but shares my passion and love for running… even if it’s not quite to the same degree. It meant so much to me to have him there and share the experience with him. Therefore, I am super grateful to both Bondi and my hubby for making my race experience extra awesome.
- Finally, I cannot discuss all the things awesome and wonderful that I LOVED about Ragnar without mentioning our team supporters. The Bondi Bandits were so beyond fortunate to not only have Sandra (who is completely lovely and totally deserves a raise) but also Jay who volunteered to be our driver. Given the amount of mileage we were all running, having a driver was HUGE. Plus, Jay was COMPLETELY AMAZING. In addition to driving the entire 200 mile course without any breaks or rest, he also cheered us on at exchanges and circled back to make sure we had enough food and hydration. Jay was the person who met me at the end of my second night leg and made sure I found my way back to the van. He truly went above and beyond. (Lisa, you have a good egg!) Plus, he had a great sense of humor, which was absolutely necessary when contending with a van full of exhausted, cranky women.
- Likewise, Sandra was a total trooper! She was at nearly every exchange and stayed up with us through the night. Despite the fact that she wasn’t running the legs with us, she was 100% in the trenches. She looked out for each and every one of us and had a smile on her face every step of the way. I honestly don’t think we could have had a better Bondi rep, and I give her major kudos for dealing with a van of (at times) hungry, overtired, and irritable runners with absolute grace. Truthfully, there were moments when I wanted to strangle us. I’m not sure how she managed without the benefit of running induced endorphins other than that she is just a super woman. Sandra and Jay, as far as I am concerned you get the team MVP award. We truly could not have done it without you!
NOT FEELING THE LOVE
- Hate is such a strong word, but I can definitely say I was not feeling the love for the ENDLESS HILLS… especially my ridiculous night climb. I am, however, super grateful that section came after dark when I couldn’t see it coming! By our last leg, Lisa and I decided we were both over the hills. To make our point, I took this photo and sent it to Ragnar. They were apparently amused because it was the only photo I posted that they liked… sadists.
- The other thing I “HATED” about the Ragnar Adirondacks course was THERE WAS NO PLACE TO EAT! We were literally driving in the middle of nowhere for hours on end, which was great in terms of scenery, but completely awful in terms of getting in a real meal. To make matters worse, the three times my team stopped to eat were all while I was running. That meant 0/3 meals for me. By the third time, it was starting to feel personal. They did finally bring me back to get food after my last leg when my eyes were glazed over and I couldn’t formulate sentences. Half a sandwich later, I was feeling like a whole new person. On a side note, I am sure any nearby locals were highly amused when I was so calorie deficient and dysfunctional that I got tangled in my own shirt and couldn’t figure out how to fix it (I’m talking full on straight jacket style…) Luckily for me, Krave Jerky and Mojo bars are pretty darn delicious and were in plentiful supply… for a while at least. Ultra running is hungry business!
- As much as I hate to say it- because by far the majority of my Ragnar experience was completely amazing- another thing that I was not super fond of was some unsportsmanlike conduct by a few of the other teams. While I get that the concept of keeping track of “kills” and running for time can be fun, I don’t agree with people using it as a means to put down other runners. Running a Ragnar is supposed to be about fun and camaraderie. I think it’s incredibly unfortunate that some people forget that due to being so caught up in the spirit of competition. It’s not okay to insult and ridicule other runners, and I personally did not appreciate the team of guys who loudly made fun of me for wearing a hydration pack and “a lot of gear” (commenting that it must be “To keep her from running too fast”) at the start of my first night leg. They obviously had no idea that I was running a cumulative 12 miles due to my back to back legs OR that my headphones were not on despite being in my ears. It was a pretty lame move on their part, although I suppose I should thank them. I was so annoyed by their endless commentary that my night legs were actually some of my fastest… despite the monstrous climb.
- While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I HATED being stuck in tight quarters with a bunch of cranky, hungry, tried women, I certainly wouldn’t call it my idea of a good time. There were times that were absolutely hilarious, but then there were also instances when I just wanted a hot meal, a set of ear plugs… and maybe some leg room.
All that being said, I would 100% do it again in a heartbeat! As I already mentioned, I simply can’t say enough for what an absolutely amazing experience Ragnar Adirondacks was. The entire trip exceeded my expectations in every way possible. I feel so blessed to be given this opportunity by Bondi Band AND to have had the support of all our other sponsors who were all both more than generous and super supportive. Beyond supplying us with a wide assortment race fuel (Clif bars and Bloks, Mojo bars, Krave jerky, Vega supplements, Energy Bits, and Nuun) and Bondi gear, we also were provided bath wipes from Shower Pill to keep us feeling somewhat human between our legs, KT Tape for our weary joints and muscles, and the most adorable race skirts ever from Chase This Skirt.
For me Ragnar Adirondacks had everything I could want in a race: beautiful scenery, high mileage, great staff and volunteers, and a super fun atmosphere. The fact that I was able to run it through the support of sponsors was truly a gift. I am glad to have been connected with some great companies who not only have great products, but actually care about their athletes. I would absolutely recommend each sponsor that supported our team and would like to extend a sincere big thank you to all of them.
For anyone interested in seeing more photos from our adventure, you can use the hashtag #BondiBandits on twitter or instagram.