travel

Ragnar Relay Wattenmeer

TIPS:

  • How to get ready?

- Read the Ragnar Bible
- Define a captain and 2 co-captains.          
- Divide the responsabilities within all the team.
- Meet with the team several times to go through R&R and the next steps
- Order online all that is needed.
- Start packing early!
- create playlist for the van and your runs
 

  • What to pack?

- WARM clothes for at night or to warm up after a rain (especially if rainy...)
- More running outfits than the number of your runs if ever you have to take the leg of a teammate or the weather changes.
- Cables / Plugs to charge sevral phones in the car
- Power banks
- Music booth
- Solar cream
- Cap
- Raining gear
- 2 running shoes (if wet or blisters)
- first aid (especially for cuts, burns, blisters)
- Mosquitoes spray
- Earplugs and sleeping mask
- Pillow
- confy hoodie/blanket/sleeping bag to sleep in the van
- FOOD: you will want to eat all the time almost to bring healthy and power food. 
I also prepared pasta in advance and I really appreciated it at 2am in the morning.
- water bottle
- earphones
- all the equipment required by the Ragnar Race: secutiry jackets, lights etc
- foam rolls / Compex / Voltarene / Tape
- things to decorate the van
- big trash bags for your used clothes
- "clothes wipes": to put with your used clothes to kill the smell
- toilet bag (the usual: deodorant, toothbrush etc)
- toilet paper
- cash
- running pouch/bag if long run

 

THE TRIP:

So... I’ve done 10km races, half-marathons, marathons... what next could I do? What challenge could I fing in y quest fo always doing something new? 🤔

Fortunately, one day a colleague of mine comes to my desk and ask me if I know about the "Ragnar Relay".
What is that? A 250km run, from Hamburg to the sea, 10 people, 2 vans, 24h.
I am... IN!
Wait... it's only 3 weeks before Berlin marathon. Ok, it's a perfect training then and it's ony an average of 25km per person.
Wait... it's not enough then... 😂
That's when my collegue tell me about the "super difficult leg of the race cold the Ragnar leg", a 16km run in the middle of nowhere at night.
Let's also mention that the crew then have is made of great people so it is decided: I will join! 

You need to know something before joining a Ragnar Relay: it’s a lot of preparation! (See rubric TIPS above).
Build the team, sign-ups, transport, rent the vans, book hotels, read the Ragnar Bible with all the rules, buy the equipment, calculate the paces etc etc.
AND we are lucky: in the team we are all sporty so we did not have to train for it.
But let’s say all of this is taking care of and it’s the day before the event, here is my journey:

 

DAY 1: on the way to the race.

It's Friday, I am home office so all week long I postponed the packing time to today... but things get super packed and when at last I look at the time I only have one hour left to get ready and pack! Thankfully, I had written done on my phone (another tip here!) a list of what to take so I go through the list and pack ASAP. 
I make it to the airpot more than on time (perks of leaving of Nuremberg: the airport is so small ^^) and meet with the team: we are READY!

The journey continues:
Plane ✅
S-Bahn ✅
Air bnb ✅
Bed ✅ 

 

DAY 2: let’s get started!

I wake up and look at the window: it is pouring rain...
We knew it (but I guess my brain did not want to accept the info when I packed so I am not equipped AT ALL) but we still had hope the weather channels would be wrong.
We pick up the vans, check out of the air bnb, go grocery shopping for the weekend and here we are: time to say bye to half of the team that will be in van 2 and meet us at the exchange point 1 in some hours.


Indeed here is the principle of the race: we are a team of 10 runners, divided in 2 vans. The first van starts and each runner has one “leg” to run one after the other (relay). The legs vary from 5k to 16k. At the end of the first 5 legs, van 1 meets van 2 with the 5 other runners in and  we give them the baton to continue the relay. They run their 5 legs and our role is to be at the meeting point 2, 5 legs later. Etc etc during 250km! From Hamburg to St Peter Ording.
Yeah, what an idea 😉

Btw, name of our team: Vicky the Viking and the limping Pirates!!!
(Don't ask, long story 😂)

So with my team (van 1) we head up to the start line near San Pauli in Hamburg.
It is still... POURING rain.
Whatever, we pick up the bibs and our first runner gets ready!


Once at the starting line, I realized that we are in the same wave as Midnight Runners, the Reebok French influencers and a team from AR Berlin! I am so happy to see all those faces. It really feels like a bid running family gathering ❤

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It's 2pm: 3-2-1-GO! 
Our first runner

starts the relay

The start of the 24hours chrono!

Run 1 passes to runner 2, runner 3 passes to me 💪
I am runner 3. My first leg is a 5,4km at the exit of hamburg and along the sea towards the north. It is GORGEOUS and CLEARLY, all the rich people from Hamburg live here! Amazing houses with private garden on the sea.
I run my leg at marathon pace, under the rain… but well at least it is not cold.

I pass the baton and the race keeps on for 2 more legs and we need to drive to the first major exchange point with van 2.
We arrive there and we receive a text from our last runner: she is lost! Apparently, some people on the road gave her a false indication and she went 3km in the wrong direction. She is with a group of runner and they have to wait for the van to pick them up, drive them to where they dropped off the route and then run to us. We loose a good 45min but to be honest I do not take this adventure as a race so I don’t care, but shhhut 🤫😉
While we wait we decorate the vans and take pics, so all good!

At last we give the baton to the other team and we have approximately 2hours in front of us to drive to the next major exchange point and rest/eat.

It is pouring rain and I am FREEZING.
I did not planned at allthe right way my suitcase and I mainly have short and tanks...
But here again the running community is here and Gabriel from Midnight Runners lends me a warm sweter. It will save my adventure ^^.

I skip the diner so I can sleep in the van while the others go for food. It was much needed! 

Time flies and it is already time for our first runner to receive the baton from the last runner of the other van. We hug the team and already time to go.

My second leg is a 8k at 22pm. I am freezing but once I am out of the van and with the runners waiting for their relay I feel motivated. It is raining and windy so I am wearing all the time a gorgeous “kaway poncho”, you know the high quality poncho you can find almost everywhere for 2euros! 😂 I kind of create my own adidas x Alexander Wang style... 👌

The run is more challenging than I expected: in the middle of the fields, pitch darks, some fences to climb, SO windy because along the sea and no trees around. But weirdly enough, to run under the rain, to fix the light spot on the ground that my headlamp creates, to ear the wins... is kind of cradling… I like it!
The 8k goes really well and I pass the baton earlier than expected.

The rest of our legs goes well, we even take a ferry at one point! ^^

We make it to the second exchange point and wait for the last runner of van 2.

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I don’t even know how many layers of t-shirts I have on me. All that I took in my suitcase and that was not already used for a run is on me!

I should launch my own running collection seriously...

 

DAY 3: I don't know anYmore what dry means...

We all have a short nap in the Van, then our first runner gets ready to receive the baton around  3am.
I eat my pasta at 2am because at 4 I will be up for a 16km. 
Team 2 arrives, the passation is done, hug to the team and time to go!

Run 1: done.
Runner 2: running.
So here I am… 4am and ready to go. We have a 45min delay all in all so I will start my run around 5am. The rain and wind are insane. I am crazy, I know, but actually I find it challenging and super rewarding to be outside running under those conditions. In my mind I am like “wtf MC, it is 5am in the morning, it is pouring rain and windy, you are in the middle of nowhere with a headlamp and you run 16km”. I love this feeling…

Apart from the rain (that actually stops around the 10th km!) the run is really nice, in the middle of Nature and thanks to our delay I witness the sunrise! 
I think it is my most memorable moment of the race, this sunrise in the middle of nowhere, with the headlamps of some other runners in the landscape behind me.

FINISHER! I finished the famous Ragnar Leg (most difficult of the race)! I even receive a special medal. I also finished my work for the Ragnar Relay all in all, I am done! 

We have 2 runners left and then our van is done! We made it!
We give the baton to van 2 to for them to finish the race. Once again I meet friends at the passation spot ❤

My team has some energy left and wants to “drive around”, personally, I eat my daily amount of porridge and fell asleep 😉

We then drive to St Peter Ording where the finish line is.
We even have the time to cheer on the last runner on van 2 beofre the finish line. Then we meet with the rest of Van 2 and we all wait for him to arrive.


We all run (or try to, he is so fast) with him the last 100m and here we are... FINISHERS!


Our captain gathers the medals and give them to us one by one, really nice moment AND the sun is shining.

It is then time to celebrat => Beer time! (Alcohol free for me, marathon prep is still on).
We chill at the finish line spot all together and I can see most of my friends in other teams arriving so it is so nice!
It is still early but we head for BURGERS in a closeby restaurant, Die Insel. The place is nice but I DO NOT recommend the veggie burger. It is a huge piece of cheese, way too fat and nothing elaborated.

Then we drive to our air bnb, 20min from the center, in the middle of nowhere (apart from thousands of sheeps) and in a former school! We even have bunkbeds in dorms, and eat in a canteen style, pretty fun.
But... there is NOTHING to do… The team is tired and happy about it but it is so painful for me to do nothing, I hate this… I do my best: I sort out the pics of the weekend, I expand my clothes outside, I call my parents etc etc, but then I cannot anymore and decide to go to bed at 8pm... Better to capitalize on sleep than to get bored.

 

DAY 4: Back to reality.

We all wake up in this old school: I have the feeling we will actually have classes! 
Breakfast all together and time to leave.
We drive first to Hamburg to give back one of the van and we have lunch at Froindlichst. SUPER nice. I recommend it: a vegan restaurant with so many choices!

Then direction Nuremberg!
Long ride but the stops are pretty fun with all of us stretching by the road. I am almost all the way plugged to my Compex 😂

At last we arrive at Nuremberg and time to say bye 😢

What an adventure... What I will remember:
-      The rain and wind
-      The proudness when running under this weather at night
-      The team <3
-      The meetings with the other teams at the exchange points and see all my friends from different teams and cities/countries
-      The finish line, trying to catch up with our last runner.

I would be definitely in for another Ragnar Relay BUT:
-      Ultra-team: 5 runners instead of 10
-      A place with no rain ^^
-      Pack better
 

So maybe another Ragnar Relay article next year! 🔥