Nut Up or Shut Up!

Van one of my relay team, Nut up or Shut up, begins our adventure at the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay at 5:00 am Friday. Van two will begin at noon. The whole team will finish around 4:00 pm on Saturday. I have eleven team members to go 193 miles. My runner’s pace ranges from 16-minute miles to 8-minute miles. Needless to say, we are not the first team across the finish line, but we are also not the last.
Relays are one of my favorite types of races. It is a great way to suck non-runners into running because there are distances for all levels, and you have your personal cheerleading squad every step of the way. We have two vans, and each van has six people (okay well my van has five because I’m running six legs rather than three).
I will be stuck in a van for about 36 hours with four of my favorite people in the world. Six more of my favorite people will be in van two for my team. I have been the captain of my relay team since 2010, and we have run approximately 10 relays together.
Each one of my runners will run three legs of the race. We run all night long and get very little to no sleep. We eat total crap food the entire time. We will be sweaty, smelly, and cramped in a minivan with all of our gear. What is worse, is that we each pay approximately $200 to participate in these events. But what we get out of it is well worth the money; a t-shirt, sticker, and medal.
All right, we also get some of the best memories one could wish to have. I have five new team members this year, which means five new nicknames we have to create. A nickname on the team is like an honor badge. You have to earn it, you probably won’t like it, and we will paint it on the side of the van for the world to see.
I earned my nickname during our first relay when one of my runners ended up injured and unable to finish her last two legs. I took over her runs and finished with 31 total miles. I was christened the Dark Voodoo Princess because I pulled from my reserve of black magic to finish the miles.
My team is amazing. There has never been any arguing or fighting despite the lack of sleep, bad food, and total exhaustion from running. Even the one time when we had a person in the van who did not fit well, everyone held their tongues until that person was gone, and she was never invited back. She has been referred to as the Princess ever since.
Everyone pitches in and supplies the vans with junk food, water, and Gatorade. When it is time to run, we toss the runner out and drive ahead to dance and sing on the side of the road. Some of us are better than others at these extracurricular activities.
Wasatch Back Ragnar began eleven years ago. It was the first of the Ragnar relays (Hood to Coast in California was the original relay), and now there are about twelve different relays scattered across the United States. The Ragnar Corporation does an excellent job supporting the runners and organizing its events. There are approximately 1200 teams out on the 200-mile race route, which translates to 14,000 runners and 3600 volunteers (each team is required to supply three volunteers for the race).
I know it’s not as big as say the Chicago or New York Marathons, which turn out something like 45,000 runners each year over 26.2 miles, but it is still an epic feat to organize this event. Each of the teams goes through a safety training at the beginning of the event, and the course is well marked and there are volunteers everywhere to help runners. Over the years that my team has run, there have only been a few runners (less than five) each year which end up with heatstroke.
I spent Wednesday night packing everything up and making sure that my kids, dogs, and cats would not starve to death while I am away. I watered the garden, and hopefully, it will not die while I am gone either. I’ve also packed by bike in my car so I could drop it off with a friend to be tuned up since I will be unlikely to ride it this weekend. It felt a little rough when I rode it Saturday, which will not be good for the triathlon next month.

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