And despite Mother Nature's best attempts, they were successful in completing their adventure.
And adventure it was!
I will tell you right now, I'm surprised none of my friends murdered me for convincing them that this was a good idea.
Especially after our campsite suddenly became waterfront property. ..
Ah, but when something seems to good to be true, it usually is. :)
And so, as the number of individuals committed to the team dropped, I reached out to some crazy runners who I thought would enjoy both hiking and trail running. A colleague from my old office back in Holland, MI. A friend from the bar who had been an avid runner up until she had a daughter but was starting to get back in to it again. Two coworkers who I cajoled in to running with the promise of gorgeous trails and plentiful beer. And I random stranger I found on facebook.
Car #1: Guys... It's raining REALLY bad here...
Car #2: Yeah, it's raining on our side, too.
Me: MEH. It's just a little precipitation. Y'all stop freaking out.
So when we get to camp later that evening, my car was the last group to arrive. Best plan ever, because that meant our teammates had been generous enough to get all the tents set up. But it had rained quite a bit and the ground was damp and the front had brought colder weather with it that none of us had entirely anticipated. I packed WAY to many pairs of shorts and not nearly enough sweatpants.
But we made it through the night, despite the additional storms that passed through. And while our camp chairs were a little wet, we and our gear and had stayed nice and dry inside the tents. As the day broke, and the sun started to burn off the fog and the moisture that hung in the air, it seemed promising, like perhaps the worst of the storm has passed by us and we would survive the rest of the race unscathed...
WE WERE WRONG.
And that's when it hit.
The storm front started to work its way towards us, and as the wind picked up, we decided it was best to prepare for the worst.
Cell phone reception was minimal (at best) but one teammate did manage to capture this screenshot of the advancing storm...
We were in for a doozy.
And so, as the storm hit, we battened down the hatches and made the best of it. Cracking a few beers, making jokes, and all the while hoping that our teammate out on the trail would be able to make it back safely.
Meanwhile, the storm worsened and two teammates did their best to play anchor to our canopy.
But perhaps since he'd have been better of in a boat, that was appropriate. :)
When the lightning struck, we went into an automatic hold and to skip Runner #4. So one hour after Runner #3 came back, I, Runner #5, prepared myself to head out into the rain, which had lightened up significantly, and start my turn on Yellow Loop.
And that's when someone told us that they'd put a second hold out and we would be skipping two runners.
Well, I guess I won't be running Yellow Loop afterall..
We eventually got back out on the trails with Runner #6, who KILLED Red Loop and came in so fast that we weren't even up at the start line for her yet. Oops. We found her eating a plate of spaghetti and saying "GUYS! HURRY UP! YOU'VE GOTTA GO!" She handled it well, like a true Ragnarian. I was so proud. :)
And in case you've ever wondered what it looks like when you take a selfie at 2:00 AM while wearing a headlamp...
Well, now you know. :)
Green Loop was the shortest, but by no means did it lack compared to the others. Verdant, lush forest, a nice trail, that while muddier than normal due to the rain, was still manageable. And one breathtaking moment where you burst from the trees out in to a field that was covered with a thick blanket of fog laying on top of the ferns.
By this time, everyone on the course was dealing with several issues:
1) You were wet.
2) You were covered in mud.
3) You were probably cold.
4) The trails were not just muddy, they were mud soup.
What all of this lead up to, was that loop times had nearly doubled in some scenarios. Yellow Loop was four and a half miles and was taking some people upwards of two hours. To say nothing of Red Loop, which was nearly seven miles. Rumors of injuries out on the course started flying. Ankles were rolling and twisting left and right and people were falling all over the place. The motto of the night became "Slow and Steady" and as such, almost every single team feel behind their predicted pace.
And so, Ragnar Staff decided it was time to buddy up. Teams began to pair up runners, so that everyone would still complete all three loops and all the teams would run the same distance. But now, instead of running them sequentially, you would run them simeltaneously. The last six runners on our team were paired. The two who had green loop left, the two who had yellow loop, and the two who had red loop left. Then our loop times would be doubled to get our final time.
And I have to say, running loops with a buddy was kind of fun! Amy, my mystery facebook runner, and I were paired up together for Red Loop and both agreed up front: This was not something we were willing to injure ourselves for.
And so we jogged. When necessary, we walked.
And whenever we felt like it, we stopped and took selfies and photo ops.
I've always said, one of my favorite parts about Ragnar is its ability to take people and unite them through a shared experience. Conquiring a 200 mile road race or a challenging trail course is a great way to get to know someone. Especially when forced to share a van or a tent. But having come out of this storm and knowing that, while difficult, in the end, we had survived and enjoyed the experience. I'm not saying I want to repeat that storm, but so long as someone can promise me better weather, I'm definitely up for running Ragnar Trail West Virginia again.
'Cause... WEST VIRGINIA. :)
#runlove, y'all! It's all about the runlove.