This year my family decided to try some new territory and we signed up for the Chicago Ragnar. We started in Madison, WI taking mostly back roads and eventually found our way down the shore of Lake Michigan and into Chicago. It was a complete blast. The course was overall very flat, a totally different experience from the Great River Ragnar, which we’ve done the past four years. A good portion of it was also run on trail, paved mostly with a few exceptions of crushed gravel. This was good and not so good. You see, the fun part about Ragnar is that you can follow your runners along the course and cheer them on if they are running along the roadside. When we were on this trail, there was no way to cheer on anyone or support them in any way. We made of the most of it anyhow and it still proved to be a really great experience running through some beautiful parts of both WI and IL.
We negotiated a pretty early start time (6am) with the Ragnar officials, as they originally had us starting around noon on Friday. The start was fairly hectic and I made it to the start line (I was runner 1 for our team) with just enough time to tie my shorts and then we were off. I didn’t even have time to hit the porta potty! My first run was 6 miles around Madison’s Lake Monona on a paved path. It was great to see the sun light up the lake and the city. The lake was filled with triathletes doing their morning swims. The temps were perfect (low 60s) and my legs felt light. I ended up taking the lead of the runners in our start wave and then passed a bunch of runners from the 5:30 start.
Not knowing how many runners were ahead of our team, we continued to pick off runners throughout those first few miles. We somehow managed to run the entire race in either second or first place. It was nuts! In every other Ragnar experience, I have always been surrounded by other runners for the whole course. This was not the case this year. By the time the clock struck 12:30am, we were in first place as I passed a runner along the shores of Racine, WI. We were even creeping up on the van that sets up the exchange points! It was was kind of fun, but also creepy knowing that you are out there all alone with no one around while running in the middle of the night nearing the edges of Chicago. We all made it unscathed and I’m not sure how we placed overall, but we were the 4th team to cross the finish line that afternoon! UPDATE: We finished 145th out of 502 teams. Not too shabby!