Reflections on Ragnar's Relay

"What are you doing this weekend Nic?"

"Oh I've got a relay race, it's from Maidstone to Brighton."

Wait what?!

Yes this was my ridiculous weekend that was Ragnar's White Cliffs. It started on twitter and was such a ridiculous idea that the seed stuck and I just couldn't get out of my head. Run three legs of a relay as part of a team of ten, covering over 170 miles, with some people you've only spoken to on #ukrunchat - what could possibly go wrong?!

Turns out it was really difficult to find a whole team and my summer running was sporadic at best so training wasn't optimal. In the end I managed to convince Liz (@sparkle101_official), Mark and Marissa (@marissuhhh) that this was a good idea and we formed part of team Iron Maidstone kindly organised by Alex (@abazin).

So with our obligatory high vis, head torches, three sets of running gear in zip lock bags and a sense of trepidation we assembled in Maidstone under a giant orange arch.

IMG_7583.JPG

Each runner had three legs totalling between 11 and 25 miles total length. My first leg wasn't until about 2pm, then I ran again about 10:45pm and then again about 9am.

Though I had the shortest legs it was still a real challenge for me. First leg was dead easy, I ran to predicted pace along the coast for nearly 3miles and job done. Running my second leg in the pitch black, on my own, along a deserted beach somewhere near Folkestone was mentally hard. After a mile I did relax a bit and stopped jumping at any little noise but I never felt 100% comfortable. Also because of our other van breaking down I had no idea whether or not my team would be there to meet me! Alex made it, just, and off he went into the night.

 all the night gear, no idea! 

all the night gear, no idea! 

The third leg was always going to be the toughest as it finished up Beachy Head. Just before this leg I made a really good decision. Originally I was so tired after 2hrs 40mins sleep in a car park on Camber Sands I couldn't be bothered to change but a new set of clothes and it made me feel like a new woman! It's amazing how being sleep deprived impaired our decision making and it was the first time I had really experienced that.

 Sunrise from my first wild camping night  

Sunrise from my first wild camping night  

The run itself started with the other van members running a lap of a track with me (probably my favourite moment of the race) before I headed out through Eastbourne. I got a little lost and took a wrong turn and added about half a mile to my route. I know some of the other legs had some really complex instructions and I definitely would have struggled with that in the dark. I was expecting the hill at Beachy Head but even getting up to the coast itself was hilly (at least for me).

Once I got to Beachy Head and the route switched to cross country I slowed to a power walk. At least I was going the right way and to be honest I prefer being off-road. I ran as much as I could but the final climb just about broke me. I even sent a picture of the beast back to the team whatsapp group "Balls 😫" was all it said!

 Huge last hill at Beachy Head  

Huge last hill at Beachy Head  

It was proper hands on knees climbing and when I took breaks (which was quite regularly) I could turn around for this view:

 View back to Eastbourne  

View back to Eastbourne  

I think I got passed by about 3 guys on the hill but that's ok. My kill count ended about -9 but I made it to the finish and got a medal like everyone else did so who cares really. I was really proud I'd conquered Beachy Head and the lack of sleep to become a Ragnarian! Also a bunch of random people, thrown together had managed a 170-ish miles around the south coast, the comradery was awesome so thanks guys for a great weekend.

All I can ask really is where's next? I'd love to do another one, maybe in Scotland or even America, where they have tonnes, but we'll see what next year holds. Do you fancy giving a Ragnar's Relay a go? The medal was epic!!

 Awesome medals that all fit together as a team! 💜 

Awesome medals that all fit together as a team! 💜 

A parkrun PB