If my first Ragnar experience taught me anything it’s that running relays with strangers can be tricky. You will come out of the experience with some new friends but you also may expose yourself to a whole lot of crazy. For this relay I joined the team of a friend who I knew really well. Even though I didn’t know any of the other runners, I knew that half of them were her friends. I assumed that if she liked them I would too. I was right. Unfortunately that still left room for some crazy.
The Adirondacks course starts in Saratoga Springs and ends in Lake Placid. Like Tennessee, this is a breathtaking course with lots of hills. I rode from Syracuse to Saratoga Springs with the runners from Van 1. As I expected, I got along well with everyone and was excited about spending the weekend with them. I was once again in van 2. Everyone I had met so far was in van 1 and I was in the mystery van.
My first indication that there were going to be problems happened at the hotel where we all met the night before the race. The team member who was going to rent van 2 had decided to bring her personal vehicle instead. She made this decision on her own without consulting the rest of the team. She had just started running a few months earlier and had never competed in a relay race.
Six people and all their gear and food for 2 days did not fit into her car. We had to take the bare necessities out of our bags and store the rest in van 1. Every 8 hours, when we made the exchange with van 1, we would swap out our old gear and replenish our snack supplies. The car was a very tight fit for 5 people. We all had bags or coolers under us and were contorted in uncomfortable positions. This isn’t ideal when you are trying to rest and stretch out between legs. For the times when we had to fit all 6 of us into the van it was miserable. Think of a clown car with one too many clowns.
The car situation was made worse by the personality clashes. I have a very diverse group of friends from the girliest chicks to the most obnoxious bros. Most of my close friends are athletic and outdoorsy. They watch sports and hit things. They are into movies and games. They enjoy a good musical but every day of their life doesn’t play out like a soap opera. Three of the people in van 2 made life difficult for the rest of us.
First we have the overly emotional mother daughter team who turned everything into an episode of a failed reality show. Tears multiple times a day. Cheering each other on but not really getting the sense of team or being as supportive of everyone else. Picking the person who was the most unlike them on the team and turning that person into a scapegoat for one imagined attack after another.
2nd we have the daughter’s best friend. A young girl with an eating disorder who was enabled by the mom and daughter. In the end we had to make her eat before she ran and run for her when she wouldn’t. I was sure we were being punked and at any moment a camera crew was going to jump out of the bushes to rescue us. Of course that didn’t happen.
I loved reuniting with van 1 and getting to know the 2 sane people in my van. I loved the craziness of the exchanges where teams would sleep on gym floors and church lawns to catch a little sleep. The costumes and van decorations were fantastic. The camaraderie among the runners. The amazing volunteers and sponsors. It is definitely the gold standard of relay races.
This race ended at the Lake Placid Olympic site. Lots of free parking and no city traffic. Overall a better organized race than my previous Ragnar which was a good thing. I can’t imagine facing the challenges from Tennessee with the characters from the Adirondacks. Can’t wait till the next adventure!