This post is a part of my collaboration with Ragnar Trail & Fit Approach. As always all thoughts & opinions are my own.
Earlier this summer Jamie from Fit Approach asked me if I would be interested in captaining the Sweat Pink team at Ragnar Los Coyotes & that Sean could be on the team too. After checking with our schedule to see if it would fit & sewing if Sean would be interested in running a Ragnar event, we agreed & set out to form a team.
We got a team together, a mix of men & women from SoCal, Portland & New Hampshire and formed #teamsweatpink. The team was a good mix of runners of varying speeds, some of us were ultra runners but not all and we complimented each other.
Sean & I run a lot of races so we never specifically trained for this race, although if I was to give advice on how to train for a Ragnar I would say to try & run a few times in a 24ish hour period. If you are an established runner, you could run the exact same distances over a period of time, let’s say one run at 10am, another one at 7pm and then a third run at 6am the next day. It’s not exact but it’s close enough to simulate what you will do at Ragnar.
But now on to the actual event. The week before Ragnar, we were in New York for the marathon & then I was in Phoenix for my last work trip so it was a busy week.
I got home Wednesday evening & then we discussed driving out Thursday night but decided it would be best to just drive over Friday morning.
We left the house around 6am to head over to Warner Springs/Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. It took about 1.5 hours & was an easy drive. Once we got there we paid our $10 to go in & then went to try & find Jamie & the rest of our team. We were supposed to be in a special spot but we couldn’t find that spot. The cell signal wasn’t great so it wasn’t easy to get in touch but I finally reached Jamie & she said we were set up by the nose in a tree. Um…ok.
By this point I was getting increasingly more & more frustrated because we couldn’t find this stupid nose in a tree and we had been wandering aimlessly for about 20 minutes. At this point, I must have looked as frustrated as I felt because a girl asked me how it was going & I told her we couldn’t find our team & that we were looking for a nose in a tree. She was like ohh that’s what that was, it’s over this way by the mountains.
And finally we made it! I was not a super happy camper at that moment but I quickly got out of my funk & we unpacked the car so we could set up our pop-ups & chairs.
The rest of the team seemed to find the nose easily, I think we were directed down the wrong side of the path which made it harder to find. In any case eventually we all made it!
We got our team gear on, sunglasses from Goodr, compression from Lily Trotters & shirts/hats from Ragnar & got a team few photos.
After that we went to visit the village, Sean & I got an açaí bowl from the Sambazon booth to enjoy while talking to other runners.
Then it was time for Kristina to get the SweatPink party started around 11am.
I mentioned it in my last post but the nice thing about Ragnar Trail is that everyone runs the same 3 loops. There are Green, Yellow & Red Loops and at Los Coyotes they are approximately 3.1, 3.2 & 7.9 miles. The color order is supposed to designate easy, intermediate, hard.
I was runner 5 so I had a few hours to wait until it was my turn.
Sean & I then had the first of many Freak Brothers pizzas. Freak Brothers is owned by Nick & Jamil Coury & we’ve had their pizzas many times at Aravaipa events in the Phoenix area. They have a great vegan pizza that I would eat many of over the next day.
We would spend our time between legs, either cheering on other runners, talking with friends, at the camp site or waiting & watching the TV screens for our team.
We found Catra & Jay who were running the experimental Black Loop before my leg so we chatted with them a bit before I went to run.
And then it was my turn! I was running the yellow loop for my first loop. I will say I totally underestimated this course. I figured 3 miles, how hard could it be? But it was pretty hard. I was having trouble breathing within the first 1/4 mile & was seriously wondering if I would be able to run through the camp or if I’d have to start walking lol.
All three loops start the same way & then you take different turns for the different loops. Red & Yellow stick together for a bit longer.
I started hiking pretty early on, I was breathing so hard, it was crazy. We weren’t even at that high of elevation, maybe 4,500 ft? But Sean said he felt similarly when he did his first run too.
It was really pretty & a nice single track. A little sandy, but just a lot of climbing. I just tried to hike as fast as I could & then run the flats & downhills. The downhills were tough too though because they had super tight switchbacks with roots, rocks & ruts you had to watch out for.
The race had lots of color coordinated markers which made it near impossible to get lost & funny little signs periodically.
The last mileish was a slightly downhill fire road back to camp. That was nice. Loop 1: Yellow check. 3.18 miles 43:20 768ft of climb.
After my first loop I just wanted to get changed into dry clothes. It was already feeling pretty cool out. I put on the clothes I would wear for my next leg because it would be a night & I didn’t want to have to get dressed in the cold.
Sean was the last runner so we decided to wait until he was done to get dinner. Ragnar gives each runner a ticket for dinner. In the past this had been a mess hall type of thing with pasta, salad, bread sticks. This year it was super nice that we were able to use our tickets at the food trucks anytime between 5-10pm to get fresh, hot food of your choice.
After Sean ran his first loop he changed into some warm clothes & then we headed for pizza. The Freak Brothers booth was hopping, we were able to quickly order dinner but then ended up waiting about 30 minutes for our pizzas, they made them vegan but they did mess up our toppings. But after waiting in the cold for so long, I didn’t want to wait any longer so I just took the pizza that was made. It ended up being really good so it was a happy accident.
It was only 7:30p but it was time for a nap. Sean & I forgot our tent, oh well, I really don’t think it would have helped much thought, so we put down the tarp, got our sleeping bags out, our sweats, jackets & hats on, grabbed our extra blanket & tucked in for the night. Or rather until our next run.
It’s hard to sleep at Ragnar because you don’t want to not be there when your runner comes in so you or at least I am waking up many times to check the time, see who has come back, etc. etc. At some point around 9:30p Jamie came over and said that Jared, who was before me, had just gone out and they expected him back in about an hour, because he’s really fast, I agree Jared is quite fast, but at night, with almost 2,000 ft of climbing, 7.9 miles in an hour is a bit aggressive. We had a few friends who are equally fast that took 64/68 minutes in daylight, but you never know so I got up, finished getting ready & headed over. Sean came with me, which was really nice because he could hold on to my NYCM poncho that I wore while I was waiting.
For the night segment, I put on my SeaWheeze reflective capris & I wore my LA Marathon reflective rain jacket. I didn’t bring any water because I was pretty frozen. I was running the green loop, which was supposed to be easier. I really do like running in the dark, but man was it cold out. It took me about a mile to get anywhere near warm, my face was completely frozen, my feet were so cold I couldn’t even feel them. Fortunately there was a bit of climbing so I was able to get a little warm.
The best part about this segment was that I must have had at least 15 people tell me that my tights were awesome ;). This section was a bit short, but had that nice fire road downhill again, I did that last mile in about 8:27. The total distance was a touch short my garmin clocked in at 2.98miles in 36.5 mins with 617ft of climb.
We immediately high tailed it back to camp, I was kind of warm but I had to get into warm clothes ASAP which is what I did. I curled up under the covers to get some sleep, I figured I would be starting my last loop around 5/6am. Sleep was tough, I have never “really” camped before, this is really as close as I have come and I don’t have any desire to camp in a camp ground, maybe out where no one else is, but man, it’s hard to sleep with people snoring all around you. I had on a hat, a buff over it and the sleeping bag & I couldn’t block it out. I may have slept a tiny bit, but it was tough.
Finally around 5, I started hearing people talking so I got up, it was freezing! I heard that it got down to about 28 degrees during the night! Yikes that’s cold. I wasn’t sure what to wear, but then I remembered that I had my Janji tights (man those tights keep you warm!) & long sleeve so I put those on, put my jacket back on & decided to keep on my hat. I saw Jamie as I finished getting ready. She had just finished her last loop so there were 2 people before I would go out.
She gave me Michael’s jacket, which I gladly took & wore until he finished ;). I told her that it was going to take me about 2 hours. I headed down to the village, where I found Jared & then ran into our friend Fern, who was anchoring his team.
Michael came in, we chatted for a few minutes while Jared took off on his last loop. I hung out for a bit and then it was my turn. Off I went, with super heavy tired legs. I was hiking pretty early on, back up the same section as my first loop. I thought to myself, would anyone know if I took the yellow loop down? LOL, but no, that wouldn’t be right, I continued on, my quads just so sore.
Little known thing, but my body is crazy weird, my quads always feel it when I climb & my hamstrings/butt feel it when I go downhill, it’s the opposite of normal lol. And man were my quads feeling all this climbing. And climb we did. So much climbing in the first 3ish miles. It was taking me a long time to check off those miles. I was beginning to worry if I’d be able to make my 2hour goal.
There were some really pretty views, I took a minute or 2 to take a photo here and there, and catch my breath, lol.
This loop had 2 water stations, there were no aid stations on the Green & Yellow loops. We hit the first one at about 3.5 miles, I refilled my pack and then we were on a fire road that I could finally run.
We went down, down, down, I was totally in the grove, getting 9/10 minute miles, feeling great & loving this downhill.
Then we made a turn on to some more single track, I passed one girl and then next thing we were at an aid station, mile 6ish, about 2 miles to go. I ran through that. Kept running as much as I could, alternating run/walk, hike up the hills. I realized that I would be able to come really close to my goal so I just kept moving as fast as I could. Run it in, run it in this girl was telling me and I did finishing in 2:01, 7.87 miles with 1,903ft of climb. And I was done! Thank goodness because this race beat me up way more than running 100k at Javelina! And it was less than 14 miles, lol.
Sean met me at my finish, there were 2 more runners, Sandra & Debbie, before his last loop. We went back to camp, I again got changed. Have you noticed yet that one key to running a ragnar is having lots of clothes. No one likes to be all sweaty & wet (especially having a wet sports bra is horrible) & it was still chilly. He got ready to run his loop and we packed up as much as we could so that we could be ready to leave quickly after he finished.
Sandra finished her loop, then Debbie took off on hers, we finished packing up our stuff, then we headed down to the village again. Sean was ready to run! We figured we be able to finish before noon so everyone could head out.
Sean took off, I got my last Freak Brothers pizza, so good! ate a yummy toasted marshmallow, chatted with my teammates and then we were waiting to see when Sean would come in so we could cross the finish as a team!
And then he was coming around the corner! We all joined him and ran in as a team. Unfortunately there wasn’t a photographer so it was just for show, but YAY! we were done! Michael ran the first 8 mile loop & Sean the last and they were within seconds of each other time wise.
We got our medals, Ragnar always has special medals that connect together to say something. In this case We are Ragnarians, we believe… Ragnar Trail.
Ragnar had a photographer out there for team photos that were offered for free download a few days after the race.
Sean & I shared an acai bowl after the others left and then packed up our stuff and off we went. It was all over, probably about 28 hours total we were out there.
Would we run another ragnar trail? Sure, but there were a few things I didn’t really like.
I would love to see something done with the camping situation. I really feel like it was a total cluster and I would love to see something like at Javelina with tent city rather than this random put tents where ever thing.
I missed the women’s specific race shirts, I loved the design on the shirt, but in the past, we were able to get women’s specific shirts. I would like to see that brought back.
I was a little disappointed to not see any photographers out on course. In the past there were photographers.
This last comment has nothing to do with Ragnar itself, I would rather run a race at a warmer time of year, yes, I know most people would say that they want to run when it’s cool, but I don’t have any desire to camp in 28 degrees again. I’d rather have slightly (50-60 degrees at night would be much better). I’d probably pick a Ragnar in a warmer area/time of year next time.
But that being said, I did really enjoy this race & both Sean & I discussed it afterwards and said that we would do another under the right circumstances. Being able to eat at the food trucks was awesome. They had a lot of vegan snacks that they gave out to the runners so that was really great for us. This photo shows the treats they give to each team, obviously the RX bars aren’t vegan but the nuts were and they were yummy!
I’m so happy to have been able to be on a team with such a great group of people. Jamie, Michael, Jared, Kristina, Debbie, Sandra & Sean thank you so much for being a part of Team Sweat Pink! And Josh, thank you for being our volunteer!
Have you run a Ragnar? Which one do you recommend if we were to do another?