But Jessica, what is so special about Ragnar Trail? What makes it the best race ever?!?
Those are questions you might ask youself. They are understandable questions.
So let me answer those questions for you with the Top Five Reasons Ragnar Trail relay races are the hands-down best races ever.
I have said it before, I will say it again.
Trails >>> Everything.
(For those not familiar with this twitter verbage or who are bad at math, that means that Trails are greater than Everything.)
I love trail running. The challenge, the scenery, the smells, the sounds. Trail running is harder than road running, physically. It challenges you physically and mentally. But the rewards are oh so great. So Reason #1 is because this race occurs on trails rather than the roads.
Look at that delightful hobo tent set-up. Redneck Riviera, we referred to it fondly. Decorated randomly with a tiki theme (Not sure why... Don't ask.) and coolers galore, holding down the canopy after we quickly learned that a good wind guts WOULD take our canopy and flip it end-over-end.
But none-the-less, who doesn't enjoy camping every now and then? sure, a few teams wussed out and used RV's or even got a hotel room across the street, but those people are pansies and cheaters. The whole lot of them.
(No offense if that was any of you. Seriously though, the camping part was awesome. It's like being a kid again and having a sleepover. Give it a try next time.)
Seriously, it's been so long since I slept in a sleeping bag. I kinda missed it!
I don't really need to explain this do I???
Ragnar Trails provides all the necessities for making s'mores at each of their Trail Events. All you need to do is bring the perfect marshmallow roasting technique and a strong opinion on the correct ratio of chocolate-to-marshmallow-to-graham cracker.
Or go crazy and bring additional toppings, like white chocolate (Fancy!) or peanut butter cups (AMAZING!) or whatever elese floats your boat! Seriously, it's was like an all-you-can-eat buffet of s'mores. I'm drooling right now just thinking about it...
Unlike a regular Ragnar Relay, where teams have to drive themselves from Point A to Point B, there's no driving involved in a Ragnar Trail relay. Simply pop a tent and you're good to go. Unlike a regular Ragnar Relay, where drinking is prohibited until after the race, Ragnar Trail events allow you to consume and simply encourage knowing your own limits. And to be fair, I didn't see anyone who over-indulged. Everyone was responsible and enjoyed their beers in a reasonable fashion, with no one stumbling blindly on the trails after having one too many.
And it was great to see teams meet their final runner right before the finish line, beers in hand as they all crossed the finish together with celebratory adult beverages. Where else do team names like "Southern Comfort One Shot, Two Shots, Wasted" seem more appropriate? And to their credit, a bottle of SoCo got carried across the finish.
Heck, I even managed to go old-school cafeteria style and trade some of my mom's homemade Bacon Cherry Chocolate Chunk (Yes, that's a thing!) cookies for a few Summer Shandy. What better way to celebrate the successful completion of a long run?
I had never met anyone on my team until I showed up to the campsite Thursday night to crash their party. But this is Ragnar, where complete strangers become fast friends after spending far too much time together too soon. Where inside jokes run rampant and war stories are exchanged over a campfire. Where legs are compared and judged to determine which loop is worst (YELLOW!) and where on the Green Loop was the 5 foot long snake actually? Where friendships were made and high fives awarded as if these were people you had known your whole life. Where in the course of three days, you suddenly had more new facebook and instragram and twitter friends than you could have imagined. And plans were made for future races and reunions and the fond memories were shared for days, weeks, hell, even months after the fact.
Because ultimately that's the best part about a Ragnar Relay, Trail or otherwise. It's not the distance, it's not the sweet finisher's medals, or the free swag they hand out at the celebration area. It's about the people who come into your life, even if only for a few days, and make an imprint on you. Because you all shared that common wonderful experience together.
Ragnar Trail Atlanta was amazing. And I am so beyond stoked for Ragnar Trail West Virginia that I cannot even begin to explain it. Because events like this are part of why I love running so very, very much. Seriously, y'all. If you haven't done one yet, sign up now. And if you did, sign up again.
You won't wanna miss out on this.