Monday, January 10, 2011

RAGNAR: day one

The first day of RAGNAR got off to a great start. After spending the night in Miami, I met up with the rest of Sox on the Beach, from Boston and we went out for some breakfast.

Shannon, Abe, Mandy, AJ, Roxanne, Sue, Katie, Tiffany, me, Becca, and Mark
For our first taste of local color and hospitality in Miami, we returned from our breakfast to find that both our vans had been towed! We began asking around at Fresh Market and the marina where we had parked but no one would claim any responsibility for having us towed and no one at the stores would help us with contact information for the towing company. We were about 90 minutes from our start time and we still needed to get to the pre-start  safety briefing.

Names removed to protect the guilty
Luckily, we did find a sign in the lot with the company's number. We contacted them and they were only 2 miles away. Even luckier, my wife was still with us and had her car with GPS. We jumped in and headed over to the towing company. When we arrived however, only one van was there. No surprise, but the towing company had zero sympathy for our situation, no desire to hear our pleas for being unjustly towed, and felt no impetus to try and hurry the other tow truck driver along.

The man with the van
Meanwhile, the driver showed up, then drove off with our other van still attached. We asked the towing company what was going on and the driver had lost his cell phone BACK WHERE HE TOWED THE VAN FROM! Could they leave the van there? No. Could he please hurry up and return to we could get the van? No. Eventually, we got the vans and went to start the race. The safety briefing sounded as expected given the nature of the terrain, the overnight portions, and so on. Admittedly, the alligator warnings and special waivers required of some runners was a bit of a surprise.

Break the rules and you get a strike, but also some candy!
As we would later figure out, despite having a projected 9 minute/mile team pace, our projected start time was a little later than we would have liked. We actually missed our 1 pm start due to the prior issues, but we did convince the race officials to let us start at 1:30 instead of waiting for 2 pm. 

Mark gets ready for the start
I was in van two, so while the first six runners did their thing, we went ahead to score some lunch at the PB&J bar at the first major exchange.

All-you-can-eat PB&J
And finally, at long last, we got ready to race. Headlamps, tail-lights, and reflective vests required of everyone outside the van after 4:45 pm. By the time we started it was getting fairly chilly in Miami, down in the 50's. 

Warming up for my first leg
The relay is done using a slap-wrap bracelet as demonstrated in this excellent early exchange. Many hours later, the coordination would not be as good.

I signed up for three legs, but our van was one short, so I ran an extra during the first rotation and then could not pass up the opportunity to go on the infield and the track itself when I figured out that we would run a lap around the Homestead speedway. Of note, they were also holding drag races that night so we were also treated to the sounds and smells of screeching tires. The drags were on the pit lane while we were on the track itself. The advice from the crew at the track? "Stay on the outside of the wall and you'll be just fine."

Running a 4 minute mile here? Not that impressive actually.
After this leg, our van was done for the night. We grabbed a s'more at the firebowls the staff had set up outside for us and then we headed down to Islamorada to grab some dinner and a nap before getting up in the morning for more running. When we arrived, the exchange was overflowing with vans. Because we started late, we would catch up when our vans jumped ahead, but then by the time we started running, the teams had thinned out. In this case we arrived in time for the local high school cross-country team pasta dinner fund raiser (which would later turn out to be ill-fated) and then we went to sleep. Many slept outside on the ground, a few had tents, but we were happy to stretch out in the van.

To be continued.....

1 comment:

  1. Alligator warnings? That would have gotten my attention! :-)