It is always a relief to start the last leg of Ragnar. You are almost done with a great challenge and by this point everyone is starting to get excited. You are exhausted – but the hope of a few more road kills and the knowledge that you are back in Minnesota and will soon be finishing make you excited.
Everyone in my van was pretty excited about the shortness of their legs. Most were under 4 miles. Mine was 7. With a lot of hills. Remember the overnight where I fought it out on an uphill? Yup, I felt it. The excitement and anticipation grew as my time to run slowly came. The leg right before mine had some rough hills on some narrow roads in Afton along the St. Croix River (beautiful views). I took over on top of a hill, immediately descended – crossed a road and went right back up! Total elevation gain was over 800 feet with a net elevation loss over the 7 mile course (not that I felt that part!).
A stretch of this run was also on gravel roads. Interestingly there were no water stops on this leg despite its length. I got passed fairly early on but didn’t attempt to go with him. I wanted to finish and wasn’t super interested in another gut busting run. I could see a couple of runners ahead of me as we rose and fell over the miles. I was slowly reeling in a runner ahead of me and passed her on a downhill.
This was a fairly boring stretch with some shade along the way. We turned on to a busier road and eventually had to cross the street and ended up on a bike path that surrounded/went through several subdivisions and finished the leg on this trail. I caught another road kill on this stretch. As we ran through the subdivisiony area some people had come out to spectate including a kid on his bike with his grandma. Grandma was trying to get him to cheer us on, but he wasn’t into that idea!
The trail wound back and forth and I picked off a few more runners as we neared the finish area. I didn’t know if I’d get the last few or not before the exchange but it was far enough away that I was able to get a few more – totaling 5 for this leg!
Boy was I glad to be done. I didn’t feel like I pushed super hard on this leg, but the cumulative effects of the 3 legs made me pretty tired. I had averaged 8:20 pace which with the hills I felt really good about. This also meant that I had averaged about an 8:30 pace for the duration of my 3 legs which is what I said when I registered!
We didn’t have a lot of time to waste because Aaron had a pretty short leg so we hopped into the van and made it to the last major exchange!!
After passing off the reigns to Van 2 we were officially done!! We got some super cold showers and stopped at Burger King for lunch before heading to the finish line. We got massages and relaxed by the river while we waited for the updates to come in via the app and text. We finally got word the last runner was out and Van 2 was on their way.
Per relay race tradition you meet your final runner about 100 yards out and you all run in together!!
Team MN Rocks finished the 2011 Ragnar Relay in 31:11:23 for an average of 9:36 per mile (Ragnar estimated us at 9:40). We placed 219/250.
Thanks to the team for a great Ragnar!!
The view from my last exchange:
Aaron marking off his last leg:
Here’s a video of Ricky’s Dirty Dozen finishing: