PREFACE: I decided to break this post up in two. It got very wordy and I had so much to say. This post is specific to details about the running of the race where as the next post has to do with some other stories that are more relevant to the impact of the team and experiences we had outside of running during the race. I hope you will read and enjoy them both.
I love Ragnar races! I look forward to them every year. I had no intention of doing one in 2018 though especially after running Vegan Power 50k and then going to Wanderlust Stratton with my friend Pete. Those two events ate away my race time, so a Ragnar was not necessarily on my radar.
About 5 weeks before Ragnar Adirondacks was scheduled I got a message from my friend/ teammate, Jess Ryle. Seems someone dropped and they were having issue finding a fill in. I hadn’t run since VP50k but after working out schedules and stuff, I made the commitment to go to upstate NY and run ADK with Strong Hearts Vegan Power once again and got back to running.
Five short weeks later it was time to get my stuff packed and head out to Glen Falls, aka Tent City. A bunch of us were planning on camping out at Jess and Andrew’s house the night before the race that way we were only 25 minutes from the start line. I decided to make a stop in Albany to not only support one of our sponsors, Berben and Wolffs, but also to try them out because we don’t have stuff like that on ole Cape Cod. I was able to get some seitan buffalo wings, which I devoured on site and a cubano panini for later. Wow, the food is so good. If you are ever in Albany and are looking for vegan grub you won’t be disappointed.
The next morning came quick and we found ourselves in Saratoga Springs at the start line. Everyone found their vans and teams they’d be running with. Running (SHVP) gear was handed out and we all started moving our packs, food and whatever else we were going to need into the vans we’d be living in for the next 24+ hours. Things seemed pretty seamless, I mean heck, this team has been doing this for a bit now so it was like a well oiled machine.
Our first team was headed out at 8am so we all made our way over to see them off. Their was a team to start 8:30am, my team was at 9:00am and our last, and fastest team, the ultra team went off at 11am. My van was the second out of our team so we went off for some breakfast “sandos” (sandwiches) at Healthy Living. We then shot over to the next major exchange where van 1 would meet up with us and it’d be our turn.
We had a great van of people. Marie was our van Captain, driver and van mom. The run grunts were Trish Ann Novelli ( Ragnar vet, an amazingly fast and inspiring woman), Peter Nussbaum (co-founder of Tamerlaine Farm Animals Sanctuary and leg grinder), Steve Reddy (Equal Vision Records owner, krishna hardcore icon and mile crusher), Jonathan Reith (volunteer medic for the Kurdish Peshmerga and all around badass) and myself. This crew has some experience and more grit than We figured it out and the average age of our van was 45; needless to say we took on the moniker of Strong Heart SENIOR Power and started hashtagging our photos on social media with #aarp and #wherearemyreaders.
Fast forward to my first run which was 6.7 miles with 457 feet of elevation gain. That’s not a ton of elevation but considering my training ground is the flat lands of Cape Cod, it slowed my pace a bit. I got this leg done in just over an hour (1:05 and change) and passed off to Trish. Before our next legs were to start there was supposedly some bad weather moving in and Ragnar put a halt to all running for a bit. This was kind of bothersome as nothing ended up happening minus some downpours, but who hasn’t run in the rain before.
Anyhow, Marie got the next batch of runs going after bombing down a hill and killing her 2.2 mile run. She passed off to Steve and unfortunately for him, he got the worst of the weather and was soaked within minutes. Being the positive guy that he is, he cranked it out though and didn’t complain one bit; Steve is one tenacious dude. Peter cranked out his leg, Jonny smashed his and then I was up for my minuscule 1.9 mile night run.
Back it up a bit….
I’ve never been the strongest or fastest runner, I’m just the most bullheaded and won’t stop unless I’ve injured myself hence the reason I hadn’t run in months before this. That said, I’ve never had many “kills” during a Ragnar. As a matter of fact, I think the most I ever got during an event was 2. You read that right! I’m normally the guy that other racers can count as their “kill.”
Definition of a kill: Simply, it’s when you pass someone during a leg and they never pass you back.
During my first leg I had 5 kills and was shocked. So here I was just starting my second leg, the shortest of the three, and I was thinking there was no way I was going to outdo 5 kills in 6.7 miles.
I ended up getting 6!
We kept on going from there and got into our third, and last, legs to run. My run was just under a 5k but had some elevation and ran parallel to the High Falls Gorge on Whiteface Mountain. I had not done a ton of mileage so far, but the lack of running before ADK and not being able to train on real hilly terrain was taking its toll and I felt very sluggish. About 1/4 of a mile before the end of the run I looked behind me and saw another runner creeping on me. Normally I’d let them pass and be done with it but I was not letting this one kill me. I was so close to the end and I didn’t want to be killed in front of my team or their team. I dug as deep as I could and sprinted toward Trish to pass her the slap bracelet.
That runner never passed me!
Trish brought it in and we were done.
Our finishing time of 28:02:08 gave us 20th place overall and 11th in our division. All of our Strong Hearts Vegan Power teams placed within the top 20 and our Ultra team placed 3rd overall and 2nd in their division.
Thank you to all the admins of the team for putting this all together, the work you put in is priceless and appreciated.
Thank you to Jess and Andrew for graciously offering up their home for the guests of tent city.
Thank you to our sponsors Hurraw! Balm, Outdoor Herbivore, HippieCakes Vegan Bakery, Berben and Wolff’s Vegan Delicatessen, Rock Hill Bakehouse Cafe, Raul’s Mexican Grill, Tofurky and Vegan Outdoor Adventures.
Thank you Strong Hearts Vegan Power for making me a better person, I love this team and can’t wait to see you all soon!