Ragnar Relay: 36 Hours of Inspiration

Finding energy and encouragement during a relay race on Cape Cod

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Posted in , Jul 7, 2017

Ragnar relay race offers inspiration.

What is a Ragnar Relay Race? One team, 12 runners, two vans of six people, three legs of the relay per runner, covering close to 200 miles over two days and one night. Late this winter I was asked to join such a team to participate in the Cape Cod Ragnar Relay Race, from Hull, Massachusetts (South Shore) to Provincetown, Massachusetts (the very tip of the Cape). With not a lot of thought, other than checking my calendar and with my boss, I said yes, which included taking the as-yet-unclaimed longest leg for the team.

With life as full as we all know it can be, I squeezed in running more consistently and at greater lengths to train for the race. Still, I felt some pangs of nervousness. I did not question whether I could complete my three required legs of the relay (you are not disqualified for walking), but I wondered: How would my body fare? Would I get any sleep at all in the van (where we lived for 36 hours)? The five teammates in my van, Van 1, are great pals, easygoing, supportive, fun and hilarious. Like me, they were all doing this relay to enjoy the experience, to be challenged and to step away from the daily routine. We had no expectations of each other. There was no better situation to be in for running a relay.

I have pushed myself physically before, in triathlons and half marathons (not many of either), but not since my college days had I been on an athletic team with a goal. I have coached teams since college, but that is not quite the same as being a participant. 

Our first runner took off at 6:30 a.m. on a drizzly Friday morning in May. The rest of us then took our turns running in relay order. Once we in Van 1 completed our first legs, Van 2’s runners did theirs. The pattern went on for approximately 31 hours. Our final team member arrived in Provincetown, with us to greet her, at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

There were day runs, middle of the night runs and early morning runs for our van. There were brief stops for food, a catnap here and there, lots of hydrating, no showers, enthusiastic cheering, many pit stops and an incredibly wonderful number of laughs. There were teams running to support causes. There were families and friends running in honor or memory of a loved one. There were teenagers and octogenarians. There was a man who juggled throughout his running legs (he used glow-in-the-dark balls during his nighttime runs). There were encouraging t-shirts on runners and supportive signs held by people along the routes.

The energy that comes with hundreds of people sharing a common goal is palpable and invigorating, even stress reducing. What better time to let the demands of your work and home life, the list of to-do’s, slip away? The beauty of seashore towns, the salty breeze and friendly people are tonics, not to mention being in a position to offer support, encouragement and humor to other participants, not just your team, but hundreds of others.

A recent thought and act from the OurPrayer Daily Scripture & Reflection newsletter caught my eye:

Be with someone who brings out the best in you, not the stress in you. –Anonymous

Grasp every opportunity to offer encouragement to others.

I felt very fortunate to be asked to join an effort that gave me the opportunity to be enveloped by others who supported me and whom I could support as well. Participating in the Ragnar Relay Race gave me the chance to push myself athletically, to see the Cape on foot, to be energized and encouraging, and to be surrounded by a tremendous team of game and fun friends. Not a bad gig for 36 hours.

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