Running with Team Nuun: Ragnar Wasatch Back Review
Thanks to some obstacles life threw my way, I've been delayed on my Race Review on Ragnar Wasatch Back. I've also missed telling you about all the adventure of running with Nuun. With a whole NEW adventure on the horizon, I'm finally sharing my story!
Team Nuuniacs at the Ragnar Wasatch Back Finish!
I've ran a Ragnar Relay before. But Ragnar Wasatch Back is the original Ragnar Relay! And the extra special icing on the Ragnar cake? I ran it with Team Nuun Hydration! A team of fun, friendly social media runner/bloggers who all share the same passion for Nuun that I do. But I'd never met any of them... only chatted via social media...so I was nervous.
I arrived in Salt Lake City and met the first person from the team, Colleen (aka @livefreeandrun). From there it was like the opening season of "Real World" or "Big Brother". We would start meeting other teammates in the airport, at the hotel, etc. And of course, we all had to ask "what's your Instagram handle?" before we truly recognized each other. LOL And as you'll be able to tell, we all started getting along just fine.
|First selfie with @livefreeandrun, @relatablyfit, and @mindysmith17|
Once all the team had arrived and we had a chance to all officially meet, it was off to our first team dinner. We laughed over the dinner table, got to know each other a little more, and spotted the Oiselle Team and sized up the competition!
After dinner, we went back to our hotel to relax and do some van decorating! And of course, more group photos. Because once we started in the morning, the entire team wouldn't be together again until the finish!
Eventually we had to hit the sack early. We definitely were going to need the rest! In the morning, Van 1 had to get an early start so they were up while those of us in Van 2 got to sleep in. That was definitely a perk of being in Van 2!
|Van 1 off to the start!|
Van 2 had some time to kill before needing to get to our first exchange, so we checked out of the hotel and hit the "beach"! Was great to spend some time together outside the van, bonding as a team before tackling the challenge we knew was ahead.
Meanwhile... while we were playing on the beach... Van 1 was starting our journey!
Eventually we had to start our legs of the race, so we met Van 1 at exchange 6 and it was time to start our adventure! Our first legs varied. Some were knocking out their hardest legs first, others their easiest. But it seemed all the energy from beginning the race and all the excitement really helped us all start off strong.
While waiting for my team members to come through (I was runner 11, second to the last runner), I was able to take some time to enjoy the views. While there were plenty of hills for us all to tackle, the one great thing about running through the mountains was the SCENERY. Amazing sites and so excited to have enjoyed them all first hand.
We had gotten the chance to explore the beach while Van 1 ran... and we got a little payback seeing what they were up to while WE were running. Taking NAPS!
My first leg ended up starting when it was already dark. All day it had been pretty unusually warm for the area, but at night it cooled down... a lot! It got pretty cold in fact. But that's typical for most Ragnars. You usually have to prepare for at least one warm run, and one cold one. There's usually at least one "best weather" run, and fortunate for me, I got to start off with that one!
It was chilly, but just the right amount. Once I got started running it was perfect! There were definitely some hills in on my first leg. But I pushed through and surprised myself by running faster than I thought I would. As I mentioned, all the excitement really helped push us all a little further on our first leg.
Once I handed off to Mindy and we got to the next major exchange... I swapped out for a dry pair of clothes (highly recommend changing each time when running a Relay). I also REALLY had to use the restroom... and turns out while I was there, the rest of the team was taking selfies! :-/ Which began the van trend of "#WheresJeremy". Oh well.. when nature calls, that takes priority over selfies! LOL
|Team Nuuniacs (minus me and Mindy): @briangorun, @relatablyfit, @georgeokinaka, @cmcphers, @livefreeandrun, @carolinajoy_tjl, @ewallerscott, @arielledora, @marathonrun, and @cateyball.|
Once our van had completed our first legs, it was time to hand over the reigns to Van 1 and get some well-deserved shut eye! Although I think we all ended up only getting cat naps in.
After we had a chance to get a small nap in, it was time to get back out on the road and start round 2! This section was definitely the tough part. Little sleep, wee hours of the night/morning. We were freezing standing around.. but we made sure that at every exchange we were there to cheer on the next runner, no matter how cold! And besides, what better way to bond with your teammates than huddled under a blanket together? Plus, we got to run during the sunrise!
|@livefreeandrun passing off to @georgeokinaka|
I've already mentioned that the scenery was AMAZING... but I can't say it enough. The views were incredible! My second leg was hilly, but the views took my mind off the tough course and kept me going strong.
Did I mention hills? Yeah, I can't complain about MY hills though. Because THE hill award goes to Brian (community manager at Nuun, and wrangler of Team Nuun athletes). His third leg earned participants the "Longest Hill" award in Ragnar History. 10.5 mile, 2,800 feet of climbing! Yeah, it was TOUGH. Absolutely breathtaking scenery.. but also tough.
Brian though, of course managed to tackle that hill like a freakin' CHAMP! As we drove up to the top of the mountain, we passed hundreds of runners and you could see the physical and emotional pain in on their faces. I wasn't jealous at all that this challenge was all Brian's.
We were all down to our final legs and the weather was back to being warm again. Plus we were nearing the end. This was when being in Van 2 had it's disadvantages. Van 1 had already finished and we were left bringing up the rear. It was all mental at this point. The final home stretch of this 24-hour challenge!
From Brian's mountain-of-a-hill on, traffic became crazy. Wall to wall vans backed up for miles. This would be my only "con" for Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back. However, the race organizers have already decided to cap next year's race and help solve that issue quickly. You can read more about that HERE. I highly recommend getting registered early!
We pulled together as a team and pushed through to the end. Each tackling our own final challenges with the determination that only a strong team can give you when you need it most.
Finally... we made it to the finish! At last our journey had come to an end. Emotions were raw. Adrenaline high, and stomachs grumbled loudly! We'd just ran roughly 200 miles together. An amazing experience you have to live for yourself.
Once we were officially done, we took off to the hotel for what I have to say was my favorite part of the entire adventure: pizza and beer! It wasn't the food or the beer that was so memorable, it was the company and conversation. We swapped stories from each other's vans, shared inside jokes and personal struggles. And I hadn't laughed as hard as I did around that table than I have in a long time.
We had started as strangers...and ended as MORE than a Team... we'd ended as friends. It created a bond between ambassadors that you can't get from social media posts, comments, or likes. Genuine friendships were created and memories to last a lifetime.
*Nuun Adventure 2.0* I'll be running the Hood to Coast Relay for another, even bigger adventure with Team Nuun once again THIS WEEKEND! I'll meet new Team Nuun members, tour Nuun headquartes... and be blessed with another amazing adventure! Follow my journey starting Wednesday through Sunday on my Instagram page, @runner_blogger_az or follow the entire team by searching #NuunHTC all weekend long.