This is a great article about the race. For sure bring deodorant, a toothbrush and snack often. I am looking forward to “running my butt off” with the South Davis Road Runners! What a blast!
Running the Ragnar Relay? Here’s a little bit of advice
One of my favorite races is the Ragnar Relay’s Wasatch Back.
I shouldn’t really even refer to it as a race because, well, there is nothing speedy about me or my team — Dude, where’s my van?
It is, in fact, a 178-mile (give or take a few) mobile party. The best thing about the Wasatch Back (and likely all of the Ragnar Relay races) is that they are the kind of endurance event almost anyone can participate in.
OK, so it’s not like entering a pie-eating contest, but with some pretty minimal training, even someone like me can not only survive, but thrive, in the annual two-day race.
The Wasatch Back takes teams of 12 runners from Logan to Park City on a sort-of tortured, long-distance relay race. Runners travel through some of the prettiest country you’ll ever see. It is so beautiful that even as you’re begging strangers for water, you’ll be dazzled.
The race has grown in popularity so significantly that this year it sold out months before the June 19 and 20 race dates. I have run the Wasatch Back every year since its first race, and through trial and mostly error have learned some things I’d like to pass along to first-timers and those thinking they might like to give it a try.
First rule: Do not follow up your first leg with a celebration dinner.
For example, in my first Wasatch Back, I decided to inhale onion rings and a salad. After all, isn’t it a rule somewhere, in some universe, that salad will forgive any indulgence, no matter how greasy? Well it should be.
In fact, eating anything deep-fried, not recommended — unless of course, you want to visit every Porta-Potty from Logan to Park City. (Which I believe is another race altogether, and there is no medal for finishing.)
Some might be thinking they need protein. OK, I thought that, so the next year I ate a veggie burger and spinach salad. I am a slow learner, but eventually 500 trips to a Porta-Potty drove home this point: No salad.
The problem is that your body needs fuel for the near-constant exercising, but the lack of sleep compounds the ill effects of your body’s decision to send its resources to your legs instead of your stomach. Which means even gorging oneself on pasta, normally a mild food choice, during a race like this will make you feel like you ate nails. In fact, the results for some can be so bad they don’t want to live, let alone run another half-dozen miles in the 80- or 90-degree heat.
It’s a fairly easy problem to solve. Light, small snacks — easily digestible foods — are a much safer and saner choice. The trick is not to feel full, which will be tough if, like me, the pain of a stretching stomach is your normal stopping point.
Second rule: Bring a toothbrush — and toothpaste.
This rule will not only help you feel a little bit refreshed when you smell like (and often look) like roadkill, but it will save you from being kicked out of the van. Really, there are a lot of unpleasant smells you’re going to have to deal with on this race. Let’s not have bad breath be one of them.
Third rule: Bring dry socks, dry underwear and, if possible, a change of clothes. You have no idea how much better you’ll feel if you can change two articles of clothing before your second leg. Don’t change too soon (or your second set of undergarments will be sweaty before you start), and don’t attempt to change in a Porta-Potty sans flashlight. You never know what you might sit or step in.
(It should be noted that if you have the opportunity, the junior high in Heber City is still selling showers, I believe; being clean for your last leg is very invigorating.)
Fourth rule: Have fun. This is most important. This is the reason you’re training. Decorate your van/car. Pick nicknames, choose theme songs and have a sense of humor. We like to run for a reason (once I dedicated each leg to someone in my family. It’s harder to quit when it’s in honor of someone else), and we always sing each other’s theme songs when each runner finishes. Get to know those on the route and help each other out.
Participating in a Ragnar Relay will change you. It can’t be helped. Sure, you can resist the metamorphosis, but it will occur with or without your consent.
Growth comes from getting outside your comfort zone. The Wasatch Back will take you so far outside your comfort zone in so many ways, it really is impossible not to feel or be different once you stumble across that finish line longing for a shower, some onion rings or a Porta-potty.