So in case you didn’t know (or didn’t read my post on Friday) I spent most of my weekend volunteering with the Ragnar Relay here in DC. The name is somewhat deceptive because very little (if any) of the race actually occurred in DC. The race began in Cumberland, MD and ended at National Harbor, which is technically considered Oxon Hill, MD. Regardless, it was a weekend to remember. Let me start by saying that Mike and his team (Get to the Choppa) totally KILLED IT. Mike has been anxiously checking the Ragnar website for the official results, but his team thinks their unofficial time is approximately 25 hours and 45 minutes. They were beasts out there and I’m super, super proud of him 🙂 See the below video for an explanation of their team name.
But let me back track and tell you a little bit about my experience (because as we know… it’s all about me). Friday afternoon I left my office at 4:30 pm and sat in traffic for 2 hours on Route 270 trying to get out to Middletown, MD. I finally arrived for the start of my shift at 6:30 pm at Exchange 18 at South Mountain Creamery. I saw that name on my volunteer sheet but for some reason I was still shocked when I pulled up to a working creamery with like cows and chickens roaming around. I’ve lived in the city too long. It rocked.
Unfortunately, when you’re the first shift at an exchange point, you spend about 45 minutes getting set up and trained, and then you wait around for hours for your first runner to come through. I didn’t mind though. I brought a book to read, but ended up sitting around for hours chatting with the other volunteers who were SUPER cool. One guy has run this relay several times but broke his knee cap in a car accident this year. This dude is so legit. He is fighting back from this injury and plans to run the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Another guy’s wife was running with a team from the Naval Academy, and he does Ironmans! I had a great time getting to know everyone. Finally, it was 10 pm and it was time to start preparing for the runners. I was manning the chute, which is basically where the active runner enters and hands off their slap bracelet to their next runner. One of the other volunteers was about 200 yards down the road and would radio in the number of incoming runners. I took that number and shouted it over a bullhorn (I meannnnn it was really awesome) to notify their team to set up in the chute. Since this was a night shift we also had to check and make sure each runner was wearing a reflective rest, a headlamp (or forward facing light) and a blinking tail light. It was DARK out so no one was forgetting to put on their lights. I also didn’t get any pictures because it was super dark and my phone was completely dead… sorry!
Right as I finished my shift, Mike’s van arrived to sleep a couple hours before starting their next legs. We got to hang out for a little bit, which was really fun. I convinced him to go buy South Mountain Creamery chocolate milk because it is heaven on earth. He agreed. I left and drove an hour back to my apartment where Fig and I promptly passed out in bed.
I had to be back on the next day at 1 pm, but luckily I didn’t have to drive very far to the finish line at National Harbor. Here I was working the finish line. Basically, I was stationed slightly in front of the finish line and I was taking the number of incoming runners / teams and radioing them to the official timer and the DJ so they could be announced when crossing the finish line.
The finish line was SO much different than Exchange 18. For starters there was NO down time. I was on from 1 pm straight through to 6 pm when I had to ask for a relief so I could leave! It was definitely much more tiring but the atmosphere was so electric. Teams were SO excited, and they were all gathering to run across the finish line together.
I also loved some of the creative costumes you saw. This was one of my favorites: Hunger Games!!
Of course I literally started bawling when I saw this (yeah like crying into my radio… embarrassing). This guy did the relay on crutches with only one leg. His whole team (Operation Give Back) walked across the finish line with him. Everyone stopped and clapped for them, it was such a wonderful moment. I just teared up a little remembering it.
The day was beautiful… I even got some color on my arms and legs! At one point there were some threatening clouds but they never ended up producing any rain. Anyways, I left on Saturday exhausted (I say this like I ran a 200 mile relay race) but I had SUCH a good time! I am also totally itching to do a team relay race now. Just need to find a team…
One a separate, personal, and sad note: a very dear friend of mine is currently in the hospital with a very serious head injury. He is so strong and fighting so hard, but this has been truly devastating news. Please keep him in your thoughts, prayers, good vibes… whatever you do, do it for him today! I am going to visit him as soon as I allowed.