Race Report: Ragnar ADK with Strong Hearts Vegan Power

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On Friday/Saturday, I participated in Ragnar ADK with Strong Hearts Vegan Power. For those who are not familiar with this race, it is a 200(ish)-mile relay race through the Adirondacks. Teams consist of twelve members that run three legs each. The legs range from approximately 2 miles to approximately 10 miles. Strong Hearts Vegan Power reprented with four teams – so many awesome vegans!!

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I headed to the race Friday morning with my friend and teammate Mike. Normally, you don’t get much sleep during a Ragnar race, but this year, we would be even more sleep deprived because of the start times. We left Syracuse at 2:30am and arrived in Saratoga Springs to collect our gear and cheer for the other Strong Hearts Vegan Power teams starting earlier in the day. My team’s start time was initially set for 1:00pm, but we ended up taking off at noon.

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Going into the race, I had only met four of the eleven other people on my team. It was great to meet new people and chat with folks. I was runner number 3 and my first leg was 6.3 miles. I was a little nervous because I had run a marathon six days prior and I was still a little sore. Once I got going, I realized it was going to be okay. My legs were a little tired but it wasn’t a huge deal. I averaged 5:54/mile for my first leg. As an added bonus, I got to hand off to my friend and teammate, Laura.

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After the six runners from our van went, we got a little break, and Van 2 took over the running duties. It gave Van 1 a nice opportunity to test out some of the amazing snacks that were provided for us. While all of the snacks were amazing, my faves are still Munk Packs and Glo Bars.

As a result of the start time and the schedule, the rest of the race would be in the dark for our van. I can’t remember exactly (because I was already deliriously tired), but I think my second leg was around 11:00pm or so. However, at the relay exchange, there was a pretty fantastic dance party going on (thanks, volunteers), which helped wake everyone up! My second leg had some great downhills at the start and I was able to average 5:48/mile for 5.8 miles.

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After the six runners from my van finished, we found our way to the middle of nowhere, which is where we would be spending the next few hours while the runners from Van 2 were doing their thing. Some people attempted sleep, but I decided to wander around in the cold and take in the full Ragnar experience. There was such an interesting collection of people and the time passed quickly. Before I knew it, our van was getting ready to run our final legs!

Sometime around 4am, I took off for my final leg. My legs were a little tired and I was just tired in general! I felt like I was stumbling a bit and it was foggy and there weren’t as many runners from other teams around. It was a surreal experience! Toward the end of my leg, one of the other Strong Hearts’ vans pulled up near me and gave me a great boost! It was just what I needed to get to the finish. I picked up the pace a bit, and I managed to average 6:08/mile for my 5.7-mile leg. I was officially done and went into full-time cheer mode.

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A short while later, the rest of my van finished up. Instead of heading to the finish, we decided to become Van 2 groupies. We were actually still racing really close to another team that had also started at noon the day before (thanks for the excitement, Danger Zone). I have literally no evidence to back this up, but I think it was one of the closer Ragnar ADK finishes ever! Anyhow, it was great seeing all the runners from Van 2. They all did such an amazing job!

Overall, this was a great experience. I loved the people in my van – Laura, Mike, Alan, Ellie and Peter. The rest of my team was amazing, and all the teams did a fantastic job. It was great getting to meet more vegans, and of course, I could watch people run all day, every day.

The official results will be out in a few days. With that being said, my team finished 200(ish) miles in 22 hours, 47 minutes and 9.6 seconds.

I can’t remember exactly when I first heard about Ragnar and Strong Hearts Vegan Power from Joel. I try and picture that first conversation… “Do I want to run 200 miles through the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of people I hardly know?” It turns out, the answer is yes.