I’ve been meaning to write a blog recap about our experience at Ragnar Cape Cod for almost a month, but seriously? I think I’m still in denial that it’s over. It was hands down one of the most incredible running experiences of my life and I just want to keep savoring that! Enough is enough though, and I think it’s time to share how incredible this race is with my readers and followers. I can’t be selfish forever.
I had been asked to join a team in 2017 but timing and money weren’t right so I had to say no, but told Marty and Mel that I’m hands-down 100% in for 2018 if they go again… Of course, they had a blast and needed to bring a team so I knew almost a year ago that I’d probably be on board for the Cape 2018. I’m always down for an adventure and find that I get along with most people so I wasn’t too worried about joining a team of people I haven’t met. Honestly, that’s how I started running Ragnar Relays in the first place, that’s how I met Marty, and joining rando’s for runs is what MRTT is all about! It just makes everything a little more interesting and teaches you about resilience on the fly. Team “Snatch the Cape” was birthed and we started planning!
Less than a month before the run, our team was short runners and two of us (Cheeks and I) were already picking up slack by running back-to-back legs as ultras so I text two of my BRFs who I trust to travel, run, and put in WERK to see if they wanted to join the team… I knew it was a long shot, but worth it and when April started looking up flights I knew I had sold it and we were going to crush it! April is a constant on my blog and IG feed, you’ll recognize her as @embrace_the_pace or embracepace.wordpress.com. My fellow snatchers welcomed her with open arms and around the same time we picked up another mother-runner who was on my first Ragnar team with Marty and Mel and Snatch the Cape was complete.
April and I carpooled to BWI where we would hook up with Jaime and meet our team in Mass. Marty and Mel had flown out the day before and the rest of our team was on an early flight out. We picked up the vans, did general introductions, and headed to Harpoon Brewery to celebrate the inauguration of our epic adventure!
We finished up a round of flights and moved on to our cabin by the beach, our Snatch HQ for the weekend in Provincetown, MA to settle in. April and I had a little work to catch up on before we went dark for the weekend living in the Van, and Cheeks had to finish up some school work… With the ultra-early departure of Van 1, it was a relatively low key evening with good (new) friends and great beer.
Van 1 headed out in the wee hours of the morning and consisted of Roy (runner 1 and 2), Mel, Danny, Erin, and Marty. Van 2 got to sleep in, stretch out, and enjoy coffee while continuing to get to know each other. We were April, Jaime, Vickie, me (runner 10 and 11), and Tim. With a few updates from Van 1, we made our way to meet them at our first major exchange: Duxbury Beach Park.
Duxbury Beach Park was the most beautiful exchange I think I’ve ever seen in a Ragnar! We arrived with enough time to take a few pictures, shop the swag, and meet up with the rest of our team, sans Marty who was out running. I scooped up an awesome Cape Cod hat, Ragnar sweats, and a decal for my new car. Van 1 had made up some time on our expected pace so Marty came in a little early and made the exchange with Jaime to handoff to Van 2. Apparently, in the wake of already being overtired and excited at the same time, Marty bypassed Jaime thinking she was handing off to Tim and we practically had to force the bracelet out of her hand so Jaime could get started. (#WhereTheF*ckIsTim??). Jaime is a speedy mama so we didn’t have time to dilly around… We took a few selfies and headed out for our first legs!
April was our second runner so we stopped along the way to cheer her on. Getting away from the coast and into the Massachusetts forest was incredible and reminded me so much of Minnesota, but we lost that coastal breeze and the sun started to get really hot. By the time I took over from Vickie, the sun was peaking and there wasn’t a lot of shade on my legs. Leg 10 was a gorgeous, backcountry route through these beautiful woods with enormous tall pine trees (the sun was straight overhead so no shade). Leg 11 started to get a small breeze and cool off a little so I actually finished stronger than I started. I handed off to Tim and took off to catch him about halfway through just to make sure he was doing well! The second major exchange was “virtual” due to some construction or something, so there was a gap in the course. This meant Tim finished his leg and a Ragnar team member radioed to the other team they were good to start. We sent a team text just in case and then decided it was definitely time for beer and some grub! We were well ahead of our pace and with the cooler temps coming in as the sun went down, we thought our runners were probably going to be faster in the second round so we wanted to get in as much rest as possible before taking over for Van 2 again.
We found a great dive, the British Beer Company, that had just what we needed: beer and grub! I was stoked to pile in a solid burger (with only 1/2 a bun) after running my first 11 miles to fuel for my next 11 in a few hours, and the beer was the perfect compliment! We moved on to the next major exchange and tried to catch some rest before taking over for our second round. For Ragnar events, I always carry my ENO hammock and slap straps… When you’re traveling and sleeping in a van for 36 hours, it’s just SO nice to be able to lie flat and put your feet up. Plus, feeling like I was home in Minnesota was so comforting that even though I didn’t sleep, the rest was worth it and needed.
I set out for my 3rd and 4th legs around 11:30pm and was enthralled with the lack of light pollution. It was invigorating seeing the stars so bright, I almost turned my headlamp off! My midnight runs are usually some of my favorites and this one didn’t disappoint. There’s something about being slightly terrified, running almost by yourself, but knowing there are people ahead and behind you, and then getting passed by would-be-creepy-in-any-other-circumstance slow rolling big white vans is also slightly reassuring. I do remember getting slightly creeped out because I hadn’t seen a course marking in what felt like too long, and I couldn’t see the blinky light of the person ahead of me or the headlamp of the person behind me. Your mind – with the extra miles and lack of sleep – starts to do funny things and create drama where it really just doesn’t need to. It’s part of the fun and challenge of doing Ragnar events, especially as an ultra! Needlesstosay, with this experience under my belt, I kept to my guns and course markings was ahead as expected. I finished up and handed off to Tim where the girls and I went off to the next exchange to meet our team.
Van 1 had the same idea we did and hit up the BBC for grub and beer. They were a little groggy but ready to take over for their final legs around 3:30am. My muscles were definitely feeling the 22 miles I had put on them already so I decided to take a shower at the exchange and soak in the heat. The overnight temps dropped into the low 40’s, which was STUNNING for running weather; however, it didn’t make for great hammock camping based on the gear I packed so we all camped out in the van as we waited for Van 1 to finish up their last go. That shower was totally worth it and definitely helped me crash out for a few hours of Zzzz’s before the homestretch.
The morning sun was peaking out and we all started to rouse as we geared up for the last leg. The exchange was hosting breakfast, but I stuck to my bagels and almond butter with some coffee as I stretched and rolled out my sore legs. My last leg was the shortest distance, but the hardest miles. Not only because I was tired and sore, but the miles were filled with rolling hills along a highway… The relentless ups gave way to some brutal #quadcrushing downs and the sights were far from as stunning as that of Jaime and April’s beachside stroll! Regardless, I paced into the exchange of my 5th leg and headed back out for the shorter and final 6th leg. An awesome chick ran alongside me and as we talked, I found she was from the city I work in and was coming back from a long hiatus of not running. I love running with new people and chatting along the course, but this was especially meaningful, as I probably wouldn’t have come close to maintaining that pace without her by my side! That final hill to our exchange proved to be a bit too much for me to keep up with as I was finishing the 0.7 of 29.7 miles in less than 24 hours so I let her surge ahead and I came in, handing off to our final runner.
Tim’s last leg was a long one, so I had time to do a mock-shower in a gas station before meeting up with our team to run into the finish together. There’s always a sense of excitement before you spot your final runner coming in and we all rallied around Tim as we made that final turn and ran UP-FREAKING-HILL to complete our Ragnar Cape Cod adventure! That bittersweet sense of accomplishment and reward!
What I love most about our team is how we all randomly jived so well together! For a team who mostly just met that weekend, we worked perfectly autonomously and as a team to get things done. After our finish and barrage of pictures, half the team went to grab beers, and the other half went to order food. Meeting back at our beachside cottage, we had a continual flow of conversation, laughs, naps, and beers. As April mentioned in her blog recap, it was so neat to have that sit down time as a team to talk about the weekend! It’s probably one of the reasons I’ve come to love Ragnar Trails over road races because you feel more like one solid team, versus two teams completing one race. Danny was on a kick to watch Forest Gump for some reason, and Mel hooked it up as a few of us crowded around her phone. It’s been so long since I’ve seen that movie that I was captivated all over again! #ImNotCryingYoureCrying, amiright?!
Knowing Jaime, April and I had the earliest flight of all and a 3am wakeup call, it was easy to pack up, and pack it in for an early night. April and I scored memory foam neck pillows, while Jaime grabbed some airport fly breakfast and within no-time, we were heading from Mass to Maryland just in time for Mother’s Day…
Overall, Ragnar Cape Cod is a freaking MUST DO RACE. It’s been a bucket-lister for me for a while, but nothing compared to actually being there and rocking it out on foot. I loved the anticipation of meeting my team. I loved that we jived and clicked so perfectly throughout the weekend. I loved the banter, laughter, hugs, and everything in between that we experienced. I loved the freaking 8,000 text messages leading up to the event, the 3,000 messages throughout the weekend, and the 1,000+ we’ve had since. It was a wicked hahd weekend, with wicked awesome memories and we definitely Snatched the Cape.