(Re-Blog) – Ragnar Trail Colorado

I am about to leave for my fourth Ragnar Trail in Snowmass, CO. I have done every single trail Ragnar that as been at Snowmass! I LOVE Ragnar Relays, both the road and trail versions, but being in the mountains and camping makes the trail series all that much better for an outdoor-lover like myself. Altogether, Ragnar does a fantastic job with these events.

Every year has brought different experiences and  memories. Every year has had ups and downs. This year, I am with a completely random team, not having known anyone prior. Some of them are new runners and we are looking forward to a fun experience!

This post was originally written for Becoming Ultra when they recruited me to write about Ragnar for them. It never ended up getting published on their site and it really bummed me out. I worked really hard on it. It was also supposed to get posted on the Ragnar blog, but the employee that talked to me dropped the ball as well and she no longer works for Ragnar.

It ended up only on my blog. I am re-blogging this post because, frankly, I really liked it and thought it was some of my best work.

Here’s to trail running, new friends and the great outdoors! Cheers!


 

It all ends when I finally get home, I examine myself, taking note of what I’ve done to my body and mind.

I am very tried, about to fall asleep.

I’m dirty, literally covered, head to toe with dirt.

I smell like a high school locker room.

My muscles are sore.

I have a few blisters spread out on my feet.

There’s chafing in places only my boyfriend sees.

I’m sunburnt in various spots, showing where I can’t reach.

My hair is coated in grease, staying in a pony-tail without a hair-tie.

My eyes are dry, my head hurts, and my ears are plugged.

But I feel accomplished.

What is Ragnar Trail Relay?

Start with a 2 day and 1 night running relay with 7 of your friends on there different loops of beautiful trails. Mix in camping, music, laughter and s’mores and you got yourself a Ragnar Trail Relay.

What was my Ragnar Trail Relay?

It all started at 4am the morning before. In about 28 hours, I ran close to 15 miles between three separate runs. I climbed a total of 2,295 feet up a mountain, only to come back down, three different times. I slept less than 8 hours in total and tried to remember to eat and drink water when I needed to.

If you read the fine print, I tortured myself for almost two days straight and I called it FUN.

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I have made new friends and strengthened current ones. I watched the sun set then come back up again, all while sitting besides a giant bonfire. I ran 3.5 miles catching up with a friend of mine, four miles with just the light of my headlamp and the stars above, and 6.8 miles in the heat of the day, all while being distracted by tall, snow-capped peaks.

That is what my Ragnar Trail Relay was.

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Running is different to everyone. Some enjoy the roads and others like the trails. Some get thrills from the long run and others just run a few miles each time. Some appreciate company on the journey while others prefer to chase the miles alone. Most of us are a mix of all of these. No matter what type of runner you are, you can find your place at a Ragnar Relay.

My experience with Ragnar Relay has been three years in the making. Every time I join a team and start hitting the trails with seven other team members, I have a new experience. That’s what makes this race series unique. It may be the same three trails every year, but each year you can create new memories and experiences.

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The first year, I was chased by a sage grouse that I coined “The Velociraptor.” In year two, I desperately searched for some dry clothes to warm up in between runs. This year, my third year, I chased the sun and got to finally see the views from the red loop. I was also the last runner and was joined by my team to run through the arch at the end of my last leg. Each year has been made more and more memories.

The brilliant thing about Ragnar Trail Relay is they provide you with the essentials: Trails, music, good vibes, nutritious food, games, good products, a great host, and a campground. From that, each individual experience is unique; from person to person, team to team and year to year.

So I ask you….

What will your Ragnar Trail Relay be?

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Quote on the back of the 2017 medals when you put all eight together:

“We believe that being a Ragnarian is about more than being a runner, that misery loves company, that happiness is “only real when it’s shared”, that there is a badass inside all of us, that everyone deserves to be cheered at the finish line, that dirt in your teeth boosts the immune system, that what happens in the village, stays in the village, that adventure can only be found if you are looking for it, and that a little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay to watch the sun rise with our friends. Together we ran Ragnar trail. Together we can accomplish anything. We are Ragnarians.”

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Ragnar Relays

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Green Mountain and Hayden Trail Loop

(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #22 – Green Mountain and Hayden Trail Loop
Completed: 4/3/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Alameda and Union, Lakewood
Distance: 3.3 miles
Difficulty: Hard, steep climb
Surface: Hard packed dirt with a few bigger rocks in parts
Exposure: No Shade
Facilities: Port-o-potty at Alameda Trailhead, no water

View into Golden!

My Experience:
I have run on Green Mountain more times than I can count. This is the place where I had my first trail run experience many, many years ago and a place I still love to this day. This is also the place that I just about lost it when I saw some people cutting the trail. Green Mountain does get used regularly and it hurts me to see the signs of overuse or people disrespecting the “rules” of nature. In fact, I just drove by the last week and the signs  were marked RED indicating “OVERLY MUDDY CONDITIONS, use not recommended,” and yet the parking lot was still packed. Come to find later in the week, when the trails were finally dry, there was bike tire ruts baked into the trail – NOT FUN for the ankles!

I look grumpy…but I was just squinting.

Anyway, I’ve run all over this mountain, just about every trail that there is. There are all types of trails here: long easy runs, steep hill climbs, a mixture, etc. Plus, it’s close to where I work and live (I coach track right across the street), making it super convenient to get a trail run in without traveling far. About a week before I completed the exact trail from the book, I inadvertently did the trail in reverse as I just ran around aimlessly. I went back to repeat the trail from the book, just because.

Quite the challenge, going the direction the book recommends takes you up, UP and UP for a whole mile without relenting. Not going to like, it was pretty tough. I ran most of it with a little bit of walking, took in the views at the top and ran the downhill (my favorite part) back to my car.

Awesome views of Denver!

Pros:
-All types of running can be found
-Good views in the distance
-Plenty of miles of trails! The full loop is over 6 miles, but can add trails in between.
-Wildflowers for a brief season in the spring

Cons:
-Not particularly beautiful on the trails
-Some parts have really loose, smaller sized rocks, making footing super tricky
-Crowded
-Overused
-TONS of bikers!
-There can be rattlesnakes

Access Road Trail on top

Overall:
While I do really love running here and I do so multiple times a week,  I wouldn’t recommend it for out-of-towners. The trails and park itself aren’t that spectacular to look at. There are some great views of Denver and the nearby foothills, but the whole mountain is brown/yellow in color most of the year.  If you’re looking for a great trail system to get some miles on without going too far out of the city, this is the right place!

Sometimes it’s green…


Join me in my #60HikesDenverChallenge:

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Deer Creek Open Space Park: Meadowlark Plymouth Creek Loop

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(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

So far, as you can see, I got after it in January – I’ve gotten SIX trails done from the book! February has started off a little slower as I battled a bad cold, my schedule drastically changed, and I race directed my first race. I’m left with two more weeks of February and I haven’t checked a new one off! Here’s the most recent one I got at the end of last month….

Trail #17 – Deer Creek Open Space Park: Meadowlark Plymouth Creek Loop
Completed: 1/28/17 | Mode: Run/Hike
Location: Ken Caryl Deer Creek Canyon Rd. and Grizzly Rd.
Distance: 2.5 miles (we did 2.9)
Difficulty:  Challenging! Gradual climbs will some steep spots. Icy in the winter
Surface: Hard packed dirt with some bigger rocks in parts
Exposure: Lots of shade

My Experience:
FINALLY! Finally an actual HIKE! The past ones have been super flat and I wouldn’t call them hikes, but this one got the legs burning and the heart pumping. We did run it, of course, but it had some great climbs for hiking as well. We got to the trails as the sun was starting to go behind the mountains making it shady and chilly in spots, but the trail winds and curves around valleys, popping in and out of the beautiful sunshine. It was a great run. Neither Ben or I had been down to the Ken Caryl area before and it was well worth it.

Pros
-Beautiful
-Challenging
-The main loop is 2.5 miles but you can take a side path to other loops to add on the mileage
-Quite and away from the city
-Not that crowded, at least on a Saturday late afternoon in January

Cons
-Icy spots during the winter (but still able to run on it)

Overall
This would be a great place to take people from out of the state but that don’t want to travel far. This area is about 20 minutes from where I live, but well worth the drive to get a run in. There are more trails in the area as well that I can’t wait to check out!


Check out the book I’m getting all the trails from:

(Blog Related) Movie Review – Desert Runners

My blog is not turning into a book or movie review blog but I do like to tell you about things that are related to my blog’s theme. Periodically I’ll review running, outdoorsy, fitness, or travel books and movies.

Being on a Dean Karnazes kick, there was mention somewhere (maybe I saw it on his website) about the movie “Desert Runners.” I think I might have misunderstood because I thought the movie was about him doing the desert marathons. It’s not. While he does have a 30-minute segment in the special features, the movie follows four people as they prepare and attempt the Grand Slam of the Desert Ultramarathons.


mv5bmtk4ntaznjizn15bml5banbnxkftztcwmzy3nzu2oq-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_“A diverse cast of non-professional runners attempt to complete the most-difficult ultramarathon race series on Earth. Their dramatic journey takes them across the World’s most picturesque yet brutal landscapes, pushing their bodies, hearts and spirits through a myriad of external and internal obstacles. DESERT RUNNERS delves into the mindset of ultra-athletes, and the complex ways in which human beings deal with both heartbreak and triumph.” – IMDB

The Desert Ultramarathon Series is comprised of four ultramarathons through the world’s toughest, most brutal deserts. The Grand Slam means doing all four in a single year. Each race is 250 km and takes 5 days. You are required to carry a backpack with all the items you need. Although I don’t have any desire right now to do an ultra race,  these events seem very appealing when it comes to the camaraderie and outdoors aspect. The fact that you spread out the 250 mile between five day and ou get to travel, on foot, into parts of the world not many get to see – that is all what makes these races look cool.

I really did enjoy the movie (except the part where they show the camera all their feet and disgusting foot ailments – I hate feet). It was very interesting and inspirational. My favorite “character” is the woman Samantha who was the youngest person and first woman to get a grand slam title. She overcomes a very scary situation, perseveres and continues on.

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The extras with the film were almost more enjoyable than the film itself. The film director and cinematographer interviews are super interesting because they had to be in just as good of shape as the athletes to get all of the footage. There’s also an interview with Dean Karnazes about how he prepared for his grand slam (the first to do so) as well as fun view on how to pack your bag for a race like these!

I highly recommend this movie to any ultra runner, or any runner for that matter, if you’re looking for a run-spirational movie (see what I did there?).


Not available on streaming or DVD rental via Netflix, so I checked out my version from the library. The version I watched was the Director’s Special Edition and had the extra content including the interview with Dean Karnazes. You can find it for purchase on Amazon (affiliate link):

Visit the Desert Runner Website

About the races


Your turn: Have you heard of this race series? Done any of them? Would you do one of them??