We signed up for the event as a 4 person ultra team. Our game plan was to run 2 legs at a time and then switch runners. If you have never done a Raganr Trail event there are typically 3 legs, Green, Yellow and Red. Green for us was 3.5 miles with minimal elevation change. Yellow was 4.6 with some nice elevation change nothing major but truly the most gorgeous screnery I have seen to date while trailing. The red trail was 6.7 miles long. The red had the most hills and lots of technical parts where running was not an option at all.
We set up camp Thursday evening and were thankfully to have a break in the storm while we did so. As soon as we all came into our tents for the nights the skies opened up once again. We found out our tent was not leak proof. It was a very wet night and sleep was poor. Our start time was moved up from 11:30 am Friday to 10:30am because of the weather. It rained most of the dayFriday however I was happy to have a few hour out there with out rain and even felt some shine through the trees.
Since we now had a 3 person ultra team we went from thinking we were doing around 30 miles each to do about 40 each. We were supposed to keep these running pattern of Green Leg Yellow Leg Red so we agreed on running 3 legs at a time for our first two runs and then our 3 run would be only 2 legs each. Teams have the freedom to choose how they run the course as long as each runner sticks with the same running order and follows the color order.
Spirits were high as we waited for our first runner to start. We all went down to the transition area together so they could announce the teams. About 20 teams start together every half hour starting at 8:30 am. The event was very well organized and the volunteers and staff of the event were all wonderful.
Each of runners was doing great for our first run. We were all averaging about the same time to complete all three legs. The course was set up in a way where all three trails meet up on the same path towards the end and a time chop would notify us when our runner was about 1/4 mile out so we knew it was the next runners time get ready. The trail ran right through the ultra teams portion of the camp which was excellent for getting fuel between loops.
When I started my first tour in the green loop I was feeling great so I was running fast. The course was extremely muddy but I was able to stay on my feet. When I made it back to the start and got to the yellow loop I slowed my pace down a bit to attempt to save myself for the miles yet to come. The yellow trail was amazingly beautiful. I was so grateful to be out there doing what I love. It was a very spiritual experience.
I went down for the first time around mile 6. My right food hit a tree root but I caught myself and then half a second later clipped another tree root and face planted. I got back up and kept on running. At the start of the red loop I was being extremely caustious. The course was very rocky so I did not want to go down again. The rain started up heavy right as I got on red. Running in the rain was not bad. Running on muddy trails in the rain was not ideal. There were many hills and rocky ledges to climb over so I slowed down big time. I wanted to make sure I did not get injured because I still had miles and miles to go. When I was about 3 miles from the finish of my first tour. I went down hard got back up and immediately went right back down. I broke my fall each time with my hands but the last fall was harder and my right hand took a beating. At that point I was all out of water so I was unable to clean and evaluate my wound. It was bleeding too bad so I didn't not think it was very deep which was a plus. After going down so many times on the red my head was starting to mess with me.
After I was done my first run. I waited in line to rinse of at the hose and then went to the mess hall. Dinner was great. I was so grateful to have a hot meal after that 15 mile muddy messy trail run. Once dinner was done I went back to came to change. I was shivering so badly. I should have put a rain coat on immediately after my run but all I could think about was rinsing off and eating. I them toom a nap in my wet sleeping bag in our went the wet tent. I went out hard. I was exhausted from the run and not great sleep the night before. I didn't sleep for as long as I could of but when I woke back up I couldn't go back down. My next run started around 1:30. The trails were pitch black. This was my first attempt at night running and further more my first attempt at trail running at night. The headlamp and knuckle lamp were doing the trick and lighting the path. This time on the green loop I was not going anywhere near as fast. The course was even more muddy and mucky due to amount of rain sicne I had first been out then and the number of countless runners beating down the path. I did not want to fall on my first leg of my second run. This was messing with me big time. My head was a mess pretty much from the start of the green loop. I don't know why but I thought there would be more runners out there with me at night. I was really hoping for some company. I got passed by a several runners but ever one that passed was keeping a way faster pace then I needed to keep if I was hoping to 15 miles in the middle of the night. I was not having fun. I was scared and tired and alone. I needed someone to talk to. Thankfully as I made my way past our camp site Kelly and Heather we waiting there. I was not expecting to see them until after the yellow loop. Once I stated talking to them I immediately started cursing and crying. I was truly not prepared to go back out and do the yellow loop and red loop in the middle of the night by myself. Heather went to wake up Mike so we could have a team meeting and we ended up calling the race.
I handed in our bib at about 2:30 am. While I was standing there waiting to talk to the timing booth a woman came over to the event staff to report an injured runner she had just seen on the yellow trail. She said the runner fell and though she had broke a rib and was still out there trying to walk back. I tried to take that as I sign to know that we did the right thing by calling the race.
I love running. I love trail running. When I was out there walking along the muddy green trail when it was too slick to run I was telling myself all types of nonsense. I was mental mess. Pysically I could have went on my mentally there was no way.
Kelly had completed 6 legs covering about 30 miles. He did amazing. I competed four legs and Mike complete 3. We were all exhausted. I showered and went to bed feeling terrible about myself for not finishing. When we got up at about 8 I heard the race announcers saying team members had to double up to finish the race. I was glad we had called the event. With only 3 runners on our team there would have been no way that we could have doubled up. We needed that time between runners to rest. The area was calling for flash flooding and the staff wanted to get the racers off the course as quickly as possible. I'm not certain what time they cleared course. We packed it up and got away just as the heavy ran started up again.