(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

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#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:

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Denver: Washington Park

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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.)

Trail #18 – Denver: Washington Park
Completed: 1/25/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Denver – Virginia Ave. & Downing St.
Distance: 2 miles (I ran extra and got in 3.25)
Difficulty:  Easy, peasy
Surface: Hard packed dirt on the outer trail and a mix of concrete, asphalt, and dirt inside around the lakes and fields
Exposure: Lots of shade from GIANT old trees!

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My Experience: 
It’s well known to people who know me that I hate driving. I hate driving in Denver even more. So when I needed to run an errand for work in Denver, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. The only trail in the book that is in Denver proper is Washington Park. Now, I’ve run here before, a handful of years back on a first date with a guy I met while trying out online dating. I remember making two full loops around the park (about 5 miles total) and thinking it was a lovely run. Coming back to this park, I can’t help but reflect on the terrible online dates I had back then, but also on how in-shape I was, being able to easily bust out 5 miles on a whim. The three plus miles I did this past week was pretty exhausting, but I digress.

Wash Park (what the locals call it) is a little bit of nature amidst the busy city. While you can still hear and smell the cars, there are giant old trees around every corner reminding you just how old Denver is. The trail encircles a few ponds, large fields, and tennis quarts. This is a super popular place for summer activities. Think volleyball, running (duh),  kite flying, paddle boats, and more! A lot of races happen here as well.

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Pros
-Flat
-Lots of surfaces to choose from (hard packed dirt and concrete/asphalt)
-Can get a lot of miles in here depending on how many loops you want to do

Cons
-Can hear/smell/see cars
-Can get crowded especially on the weekends and in the summer
-Traffic around and to/from here can be a nightmare
-Limited amounts of “good” parking

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Tips
-If you’re driving into the city, I’d visit during the week when there will be plenty of parking. Side street parking gets tricky.
-Depending on how many miles you’re trying to get, you can do the outermost loop (like I did) and then add some miles by going around the little ponds to create variation.

Overall
Although I’m still unsure as to whom this book would be intended for, I’m going on the assumption that people who live in Denver would buy this book to experience trails close to home (within 60 miles). I’m not sure this place needed to be included, not would I call it a “hike.” Sure, it’s a great city escape and lovely place to run for the locals, but I wouldn’t come back, driving 30 minutes, just to run here.

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Check it out (affiliate link):

Check out some of the other popular cities:
Seattle:

Washington D.C.

San Francisco

AND LOTS MORE! 

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Evergreen: Evergreen Lake

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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.)

Trail #20 – Evergreen: Evergreen Lake
Completed: 1/11/17 | Mode: Walk (with Ben)
Location: Evergreen – Evergreen Pkwy and Bear Creek Rd
Distance: 1.28 (This is in the book. Part of the trail was closed the day we did it. We ended up doing a double out and back getting in about 2 miles total.)
Difficulty: Super easy (although, very icy this time of year)
Surface: Hard packed Dirt
Exposure: Half in shade

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My Experience:
After dragging the sick boyfriend off of the couch, we made our way to Evergreen Lake. I promise I’m not mean, I was just trying to get him moving and get some fresh air! Evergreen Lake was perfect and a short hike around a beautiful frozen lake is just what the doctor ordered. We didn’t get to do the exact trail from the book (a 1.2-mile loop) because the part by the road was closed (I’m guessing this is due to snow fall and the plows covering the trail). We ended up doing a double out and back. The best part of this trail was the beautiful “waterfall” of the water cascading out of the dam. We weren’t expecting it as it as we came around the corner.

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Pros:
-Flat
-Partly shady
-Beautiful surrounding area

Cons:
-Short

Tips:
-Bring the ice skates (or rent them); there’s a fun outdoor ice rink in the winter!
-The trail can get icy in the winter where the sun doesn’t shine

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Overall:
I really liked our outing at the lake, it was a nice way to get out of the house. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way here just to get a run in. I would take people from out-of-town here to get a great glimpse at mountain living without driving too far.

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