Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain Recap – Part 2

So I left off after finishing running the first of our 3 loops.  My husband had a friend from work running with a different team and so he thought it might be fun to bring the kids over to the Ragnar village so that he could see it for himself.  Visitors are allowed, but we were warned about parking issues so I sort of discouraged it because I thought it would be a big hassle.  But, we coordinated it so he could drop off the kids with me at the Ragnar village entrance, park, and walk back to rejoin us.  Well, in the end, he was able to park right next to the entrance.

Ragnar provided us with a meal ticket for the dinner Friday night.  It was not the greatest but after subsiding on nothing but protein bars and snacks, a meal with some pasta and salad was welcomed.  I already ate my meal with some of my teammates but Paul and the kids brought some dinner in with them and ate in the meal tent area first.

Although I do value my “mommy time”, it was fun to take him and the kids around for a little while to show them everything and see how the relay portion of the Ragnar worked.  Many of the team names are a little inappropriate but the kids are old enough to handle it.  Some of the campsites were pretty funny/adult too.  One was completely decorated in huge bras flying like flags.  My son would do anything to not have to keep walking by that one.  They had a huge bonfire going and they were passing out s’mores fixings and the kids IMG_0614IMG_1478jumped on that opportunity.  Paul had been unable to get hold of his friend, Chad, so we guessed he might be running and it turns out we were right.  Paul stayed by the monitors for a while and when we saw their team name pop up, he went over to the exchange tent to see if Chad came out … and he did.  So, a funny small-world story…and there were a few… Chad’s team was called “Gently Tug the Trunk” <insert your own interpretation of that> and they were all wearing these crazy stuffed purple elephant hats trunks.  The first time I saw Chad before we ran our yellow loop, he mentioned that he had just helped one of the Kilty Pleasures girls up the really steep hill towards the end of the loop – telling her she “could pull his trunk”.  So back at the campsite when I knew my family was coming, I mentioned that Paul was also coming to see his friend, and then added – has anyone seen the team with the stuffed elephant hats?  Then our captain said “Yeah, one of them helped me up the hill – with his trunk” … so I knew that was Chad.  And it just so happened when Chad came out of the exchange tent when our family was there to meet him, that the husband of the girl he had helped was standing right next to us – so I was able to introduce them… 🙂

Paul took the kids back home and I settled into my comfy clothes to get some rest.  At the IMG_0565current pace (which we were behind), we estimated that our next run would be around midnight.  Instead of going into the tent to sleep, I just cuddled up in my sleeping bag (and my Bert hat!) and sat with some of the guys in our common area, where we had 4 pop up tents together and a bunch of camp chairs.  I got to hang out with John Hulsey then and laugh at/with him.  I set the alarm on my phone in case I did doze off.  As time went on, we realized we probably weren’t going to be running until 2am or so.  Finally, we got ourselves ready to run in the dark.  It was considerably colder once the sun went down so we dressed in longer pants under our kilts and a couple IMG_0568of layers.  Instead of hats and sunglasses, we had to run with headlamps.  Fortunately we also had a huge beautiful moon to help light the way a bit too.

The green loop was much more fun.  It still had lots of ups and downs, but the path was less rocky and, therefore, less scary to run down at full speed.  The darkness sort of messed with my depth perception but it was so pretty.  Having the heat out of the equation made the run really pleasant.

ragnar trail green loop

After this run we were able to head back to our tent to get some much needed sleep.  It was really really cold by this time and the 4 of us bundled up in the tent. I was sleeping on a very thin deflated air mattress on the ground so that didn’t help with trying to get warm.  But, I did get a few hours of sleep since I was so exhausted.  I didn’t wake up until close to 8am.  We thought we would be running our last loop by then but due to the heat and nature of the course, we slipped back a little bit with each group.  Finally at 10:30 we were close to being up for our final loop – the dreaded 8 mile run on the red loop.

I was concerned as we headed to the exchange tent because even though it was still morning, runners finishing up by 10:30 looked like they had heat exhaustion.  I knew we were going to be out there over 2 hours for our 8 mile loop – maintaining 15:00/mi with those hills, rocks, and sand was really hard.  I took 3 water bottles with me since we knew the only available water was going to be after mile 4.  I also loaded up on sunscreen and a few Clif bars.

IMG_0607The red loop was tough, as advertised, but we enjoyed ourselves and stopped to take pictures along the way.  The views from the trails at the top of the mountains were breath-taking, even to this native Arizonan.  The heat was intense though and the water station at mile 4.5 was a welcome site.  Fortunately they had lots of ice there too.  I wish Ragnar would have had more water available to us – especially with the higher than expected heat.  That seems to be a common theme that I read about in many Ragnar relay reports.  Often the runners are caught in situations where they can’t get water on their own.  This trail had more sand than I was expecting – 1/2 mile in some stretches, and that slowed us down too.  I forgot to mention this, but o10685439_10152998939470769_4111376369401696389_nne of the things they suggested we purchase for this Ragnar were gaiters (as shown on my shoes in this photo at the exchange).  These are sleeves that are worn on the outside of your shoe to prevent, in this case, rocks and sand from filtering down inside your shoes and socks which can become really painful from blisters, etc.  I found this lime neon green pair at REI when I bought my shoes.  They were actually really comfortable and worked really well.  I don’t think I had anything get down in my shoe, which was miraculous with as much sand and rocks we were kicking around.  So I think they were a good investment ($19 I think – they were the cheapest option at REI).

IMG_0608.JPG (2)The finish line after that 8 miles was better than any half marathon finish.  Wow, that was SO tough.  We were so glad to be done.  With 3 more loops to be run though, we knew we had several hours to kick back and relax at the KP campsite.  Many teams were already done and packing up but we were able to just hang out – and eat and have a beer!


ragnar trail red loop


IMG_0599When our last runners were scheduled to be finished, we loaded up some cold water and beers for them and headed back to the finish area/exchange tent to run in together as a team.  We waited off to the side for them to come in then the 32 of us ran into the exchange tent together, in our kilts.  It was really neat.  We proceeded a bit past there to the Ragnar trailer where we received IMG_0605.JPG (2)our “medals”, which were actually made out of wood and leather – a “rustic” touch – and took team photos.  Those that had run Ragnar Del Sol were also given a special Phoenix medal, which weighed a ton.  John Hulsey did not actually run Ragnar Trail but he had run Del Sol, and Hilary’s sister, Jessica, ran Trail in his place.  So, since neither one quite earned the Phoenix medal outright, they made a very nice gesture and gave it to me to send to my ‘I Run 4’ buddy, Brennan so that he could have a memento of Ragnar – his medal was a team effort!


We finished packing up our campsite and loading it into our cars.  Most of the teams were gone at this point so that was pretty simple – we could actually drive our car right up to the IMG_0626campsite by then.  It was so much later than we had anticipated and even though we really wanted to go get dinner with the KP clan after we had time to shower, etc., we knew that it was going to be unlikely since they were heading to Gilbert – which is about an hour from my house (plus we had a 45 minute drive in the opposite direction just to get back to my place).  So we said our goodbyes to John and all of our new friends.  I know I’ll see many of them again at a future race or Ragnar.  So happy to have been part of this fun group!





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2 Responses to Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain Recap – Part 2

  1. Christy says:

    Wow, what a fun experience! Congrats on the finish of another great race.


  2. Hilary says:

    Yay! We did it! 3 loops of hot, dusty trail! I am gonna use “I can do hard things – in a kilt – in the desert” as my new mantra 😉

    Thank you again for being such accommodating and gracious hosts to use crazy runners!


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