12 wacky friends. 2 vans decorated with Christmas lights and disco balls. 196.9 miles from Miami to Key West. No sleep. A lot of giggling. Screaming and cheering for teammates in the middle of the night. Scrambling for shade from the blistering Florida sun. Blasting Lady Gaga, Pink and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” at each exchange point. Running until I threw up a bad decision that was an egg sandwich. Dancing across the road Gangnam Style. Krispy Kreme donuts. Victory cocktails.
That pretty much sums up my weekend running the 2013 Key West Ragnar Relay with “NYC Swagnar,” a team of 5 women and 7 men who run with the kind of guts and grit that inspires me.
I have lamented that my running training has dropped off since Ryan and I started sailing south, but this weekend off the boat with my New York running friends has inspired me to get back to pounding the pavement, sand and trails. Hell, I’ll run in circles on Hideaway’s deck if I have to. Mainly because I never want to run that far and hard again on so little training.
If this is the first time you’ve heard about the Ragnar Relay Series, the 12-person running events held all over the U.S., and you’re thinking you’ll never do one because it sounds crazy and like something designed for ultra-fit running fanatics, I’m here to convince you otherwise. These races are definitely crazy…but in a good-for-everyone kind of way. And they’re definitely not for the ultra-fit alone. There is a place for every kind of enthusiast – fit or unfit – in the Ragnar Relay, whether your thing is costumes, drinking beer, weight loss, charity, having a fitness goal or just hanging out with friends in a beautiful place like Key West.
There were teams in the Key West Ragnar running in prom dresses and tutus, teams of new runners who were walking or jogging 11 and 12-minute-miles, and teams with a great sense of humor, like the gay men’s team called “Can’t Even Run Str8,” who gave out Mardi Gras beads at every relay exchange. We even met the “Biggest Loser” Team (from the TV show), all of whose runners lost 90-150 pounds each before doing the race. How inspiring is that?
And then there was us: NYC Swagnar. We were running to Key West for the second year in a row. Sure, we had a blast, dance-partying our way through the relay exchanges; but we were definitely there to run and run hard. We were running to have fun and beat our previous year’s time.
And not only did we beat our time by 45 minutes, but we also beat 350 other teams in the co-ed division to WIN the race in 26 hours 17 minutes and 54 seconds! That’s right! We WON!!! Sure, I’m still having trouble walking after running a brutal 18 miles, but who cares?! WE WON!!!
I know, bragging’s not polite. But for a good 24 hours after we got our awards, we milked that First Place win for everything it was worth in Key West. Free shots, song requests, dancing on the bar; you name it. It may not have been the classiest picture of victory…But, hey, what happens in Key West stays in Key West.
And now that the fun is over, it’s time to get training for next year! After all, we have a title to defend!
If that doesn’t inspire me to get off the boat to run this year, I don’t know what will.