About a month before my Ragnar SoCal race, our team captain, John, asked our team if anyone was interested in running the Ragnar Trail race which will be held practically in my backyard this November. After seeing that several of my teammates were interested in flying out to Arizona for the event, I signed up as well – even though I had not completed the first Ragnar. To add even more of a twist, John was including us with one of the running groups he has done many races with – a group called Kilty Pleasures…all members MUST run in a kilt. OMG. The clever teammates of mine have given this race a subtitle: Kilty Pleasures – Dirt in the Skirt. Very cute.
Ragnar Trail events are quite a bit different from the original Ragnar Relays. Instead of traveling with your team in vans, there are campsites where everyone gets to hang out together. Ragnar creates a “Village” where runners can go to a bonfire, play games, do yoga, find coffee/hot chocolate, listen to live music, and even watch a movie. There is an included pasta dinner on Friday night. This is so completely different from the traditional Ragnar relay environment. After spending so much time with our team apart split up in two vans in California, this is a neat concept. And instead of spending “down time” trying to navigate the streets of a strange city, there is more time to rest, hang out, have fun, EAT, and possibly even drink adult beverages. This Ragnar will be in the McDowell Mountains (you can visit the Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain website for more info if you are curious) which are just east of my home. Since I’ve never been a big fan of hiking around in the desert areas of Phoenix (hiking up north in the mountains and woods is a different story), I really don’t have a very good idea of what I’m in for either. I’m hoping when it cools off I can take a little drive over there and check out the trails and facilities. I understand from a few friends that have checked it out that it will be pretty nice. I’m really hoping that we don’t encounter a lot of desert wildlife, but I should know better than that…
I’ve sort of buried my head in the sand as far as training for this. I’m glad that my half marathon training is under way though because that should get me in decent running shape by November. What I will need to work on is some hill work – because we’ll be encountering plenty of those. I also am sure I need to actually run on trails some more because the footing is going to be different and I might need to consider getting some trail shoes with better stabilization. As I’m writing this I’m now finally reading through the course descriptions and getting a bit scared…
Green Loop – Long Trail – 3.1 Miles
Although it is called the “Long Trail,” it is actually the shortest and easiest of the three loops (a little trick the Mountain Spirits play to mess with your head). Regardless of the distance the leg will wine you, dine you, and leave you begging for more. Your feet will experience a rollercoaster of a single-track trails that twists and turns past 20 foot tall Saguaros. You will run through some sandy patches so dig deep!
Yellow Loop – T-Bone Ridge – 4.0 Miles
The first 2 miles of this leg are on a fantastic single-track trail. You will need a single-track mind to make it up the climb that starts soon after mile 2. The climb will take you to the top of T-Bone Ridge. Your reward for getting to the top? A fantastic view of Ragnar Village and the jagged mountain peaks to the east. After the climb, you will welcome a rugged descent that will take you back to Ragnar Village.
Red Loop – Pemberton Trail – 8.4 Miles
Weighing in at 8.4 miles, Pemberton is the longest of the three trails. You run for the challenge. Dig deep and get through it. Long sweeping single track adorn this challenging up and down romp through the saguaros, the views of the Superstition Mountains are truly something to behold. The second mile you will experience a tough climb that will be worth the pain. You will get to the top and see a beautiful vista of the desert and all the surrounding area. It is awesome! Near mile 5 you will turn left onto a dirt road and it is nearly all downhill from there.
So, it looks like I’ll have a 3.1, 4.0, and an 8.4 mile run. The 8.4 mile run looks brutal – and I’ll probably be exhausted. I think we are going to pair up with our Kilty Pleasure teammates and stick together on these runs – which is comforting considering I’ll be out in the desert in the middle of the night. Good God. I’ll trade my fear of getting hit by a car or abducted on the streets of Los Angeles with running into a wild javelina on the trail…or worse.
I have taken one important step in preparation for this, however – I have ordered my first ever Sport Kilt. Yes, there is a company that makes kilts for sports. I measured my waist and ordered it several weeks ago and it arrived last week. Unfortunately, it is a bit too big (when will I quit ordering XL clothing?) I did actually chose the XL based on the measurement chart they provided, but the kilt I got is way too big. I also got some cute little under-kilt booty shorts (bought them in L but they are kinda too small – I can’t win). Fortunately, Seamus at SportKilts is very accommodating and they will fix my kilt and send it back. There are quite a bit of options in the sport kilt world – pockets, sewn down pleats, etc. Who knew?
Most of all, I am looking forward to spending more time with several of my Ragnar SoCal teammates. My van-mate, Bonnie, who kept us laughing the whole time, will be flying out on Wednesday before the race to stay at our house. She is from Virginia and has a very cute accent – we have jokingly called her, post-race, a “God Damn Delight”. Hilary, from Van #1, will also be flying out and staying with me post-race and I’m looking forward to spending time with her. She is one person I didn’t get to know quite as well because she was in the other van so I’m happy for this chance to hang out/camp/run with her. John is hilarious and a ball of energy. I’m sure he will be all over the Ragnar village spreading his cheer and making new friends. Still, he makes me smile and realize the good in people. He is the reason so many good things have happened this past year because he helped form my Ragnar team(s) and inspired me along the way. I have friends from my kids’ school that are running this as well and I’m glad the relaxed campsite environment will make it a bit easier to go find people that I know. Of course, several of them already know John from Ragnar DelSol when they stopped and took a picture of him in his kilt (it is a small world). Like I said, John knows everyone….