Let me be blunt, I have NEVER ran a race like this EVER.
Before you think it was a horrible race, it wasn’t, well not in it’s entirety. You can’t predict the weather and you can’t control the weather.
Before I begin, I have to say the Ragnar staff was amazing. This was one of the most organized Ragnar Relay’s I have done. They did the best they could, and I think they handled the whole
mud mess of a situation quite well.
Holly and I arrived to Salt Lake on Thursday night. Of course Ned picked us both up. What would we do without him!! Seriously he saved our butts a lot during this trip. We stayed at Holly’s friend house, who equipped us with sleeping bags, blankets, towels, and a huge duffel bag to fit ALL our stuff in.
Without Ned and Ross, we would have looked like city girls trying to fit in, with our nice luggage (don’t get me wrong, I have camped before numerous times, I am from Montana, it doesn’t get anymore country then that). It was a blessing having friends in the area so we didn’t have to travel with a bunch of stuff. When you are camping there’s a lot that’s needed.
We left early Friday morning to head to Zion (about a 4-5 hour trip, but Ned doesn’t mess around so we arrived way earlier than expected). Our team’s start time wasn’t until 3:30 p.m.. Basically we had hours to set up our camp and prepare for the start, plus Holly and I were runner 5 and 6, so we had a LONG time to wait. Megan, Sean and Rira were already there. We were just waiting for Catey, Sophie and Charles.
Ned set up our 5 star camping site, complete with a rug from Saudi Arabia.
We were also fortunate enough to know Ned’s friend who had a nice cabin, which turned out to be our saving grace by the end of this adventure. I was excited for trail running, as I love trails. But Holly has never ran trails so she was freaking. Our team would watch the runners run past, some limping, some in casts, others in braces. They were dropping like flies and we kept making jokes about it. This trail running was no joke.
Our first teammate took off and the party began.
Oh and I can’t forget the very interesting toilet situation. It was great they were doing a 0 waste event, but covering poop with sawdust is new to me.
The clouds rolled in not long after we were off. Rain was in the forecast. I thought no big deal, rain will help the dust storm. The wind was blowing so hard, dust was going everywhere. Black was not the color of choice. I could feel the dust in my teeth.
By 7 p.m. I was up to run. Now take a special note of my clothing. I was in a tank and shorts. I did start with arm warmers, but quickly rolled them down. It was warm!!
And check out the sunburn that happened before the time the clouds rolled in, with a mixture of wind burn. My first leg was 4.54 miles. The first couple miles were a nice climb. The climb was even more tough at nearly 7,000 feet, and with sandy trails. My calves were screaming. I had never ran on sandy trails. The footing was really hard and climbing hills in sand is no bueno!!
(Heading out on my first loop, passing the campsite)
There was a nice descent before climbing again, switchbacks. My favorite part because it was finally dirt. Then a descent into the exchange area. The views were breathtaking, but sadly I forgot my phone so I didn’t get any pictures.
I handed off to Holly who had the longest loop of 8 miles. it was starting to get dark by this time.
It still felt great outside and it wasn’t raining. After Holly got back after 9 p.m., we headed to the cabin to snooze some before our next legs. We wanted warmth. Before 2 a.m. we heading back to the campsite so I could be there in time to relieve Sean from his 8 miles. By this time it was drizzling and soon it was pouring.
I knew the trails were going to be a muddy mess. More than muddy, because the trails were more sand like than dirt, but I wasn’t entirely prepared for what lay before me. Sean took longer than we expected and when he came in he was soaked and covered in mud, this explained the time lag. He told me to be careful out there it’s like an ice rink on mud. He said he slipped a lot.
I only had just over 3 miles, so I thought it can’t be that bad. I knew I would be running mostly down hill, in a dried up creek bed. I took off and within 1/2 mile I had already slipped and covered myself in mud. It was dark, which didn’t help. I had my headlamp, which did no good. Thank goodness for my knuckle lights, which by the end were mud covered.
I could hear people ahead let out a yell before I saw their headlamp fall towards the ground. Everyone was slipping and sliding. It was like wet clay. My shoes were bricks and I couldn’t keep my footing. I tripped and slipped numerous times, but had 4 big falls. I was glad it was a softer landing in clay, but my knee was sore the next day.
I didn’t wear my watch, so I had no idea how far I had gone, but it seemed like forever. I slowly climbed down the creek bed. I was able to run, but it was a very slow pace so I wouldn’t fall. I was hating every bit of the run. People were cursing, the rain was still coming down and most people were walking.
Running in the dark wasn’t helping. After trudging up a climb I finally saw the switchbacks. These were the easiest part because it was dirt and sliding wasn’t an issue.
Down a little hill into the exchange zone….My shoes heavier with every step. I couldn’t imagine how bad Holly’s run was going to be. I warned her of the slippery slopes that lay ahead. She said “Great” and was gone.
I fell back asleep in the tent and woke up to a text from Holly saying it was going to be awhile. The rain had stopped, so I thought this is GREAT, no more rain!! Holly comes stumbling in yelling my name…..
I asked how she was, and I commented on how the rain stopped. Holly said “Bry it’s SNOWING!! There’s 2 inches of snow on the tent!!” No wonder it felt warmer, the snow insulated our tent.
I stepped outside to find this great stuff……
Holly was covered in mud.
Teams were dropping like flies and we had a team meeting deciding we weren’t finishing. It was too dangerous and with two prego’s on the team, not a smart idea. Within minutes Ragnar called the race. Safety first!! Snow was making it hard to see the trails and it was a ice rank out there.
It was a mad dash to load everything up. Ned slid his way into our campsite with his car. We made a beeline for the warmth of the showers at the cabin (thankful we made it through the mud).
Cars were sliding and were getting stuck left and right in the snow and mud. Ned said it was crazy at the campsite when he went back to get the tent. Before we knew it we were on the road and head back to Salt Lake. Fastest trip and run ever!!
I haven’t experience sunburn, windburn, and near frost bite in a matter of less than 24 hours since living in Montana and never at a race. We literally ran through all the elements.
Special thank you to my great team, Nuun Hydration for yet another great sponsored run, Ragnar Relay Trail, and Ned and Ross (and the cabin). Without all these great peeps none of these adventures would have been possible….who am I kidding without the snow and rain there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell…..so thank you snow and rain, I guess (and the mudslides that followed). ; )
Check out’s Nuun’s blogpost for some more great photos of Nuunlite Runners adventures!!