Ragnar changed it's legs and some of its routes this year. Last year I was runner 7 and had only a 2.9 mile first leg. This year being runner 12 I got stuck with the short leg again, but it was at night. That said, our runner 7 this year had the optional exchange zone leg. There was a mile long stretch of road the vans would park along and the exchange could happen wherever the runners liked. It wound up being a blessing in disguise since it shortened the leg for our runner who was hurting and the next runner took the extra distance like a champ.
After dinner we prepped for our night time runs. We got our safety gear out and looked all sexy in our vests. The girls all made it through their runs without much issue, except for Krista who had some creepy moments. Once I was up I was off and running once again. I got lost not much after when the road split and there were no signs. I slowed to check my phone for directions and let a runner catch me to figure out where to go. It didn't help that this was a section that doubled back on on the runners coming in for the exchange so all the blinky lights in the dark through me off. This was my slowest mile of the entire event. Finally I was back on track and passing runners once again. The last stretch of the run was along a lakeront trail. There was a steep downhill that I decided to just go with and started flying when a rabbit darted in front of me. I definitely let an expletive fly as it truly startled me. I soon made it to the finish where our van 1 teammates were waiting after having napped in tent city.
Van 2 decided to get out of dodge and avoid sleeping in tent city given the noise, distance from where the van was parked, etc. We headed over to North Chicago High School to see that no volunteers were there yet and everything was pretty much in lock down. A few of us camped out on the porch of the school and the rest in the van. The porch was a good move since the overhang protected us from the thunderstorm that came through during the night. One of the guys on the sidewalk was starting to get wet so he decided to get a little cozy next to me. After a few hours of sleep we grabbed some breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and prepped for our final legs.
One by one we finished our final legs. Early cloudiness and fog gave way to clearing skies and rising temperatures. My last leg was going to be midday and I knew it was going to get rough if it kept getting warmer. My route didn't have a whole lot of shade either. As a team we made up some huge ground on our last legs and I was running a bit earlier than planned, just before 12:30PM. I took the exchange from Suzy and started running from the Northwestern Campus down the lake and Sheridan. It was a lot different from my first 2 legs since I had many pedestrians to contend with. I also had to stop at a lot of lights along Sheridan. There were stretches along the lake that made it so worth it though. I had originally intended to take things easy, especially to give the van a chance to find parking at the finish, but I was feeling pretty good in spite of the heat and just ran with it. I once again destroyed my anticipated pace. It was a bit odd running this leg since we were ahead of nearly all the other open teams. I only passed 3 other runners and was passed once by someone who had to be running in the 6 min range. I managed to capture the last 5 minutes of my leg on GoPro, including when I spotted Sara and told her to move her ass since she'd miss running across the finish line as a team.
Once we crossed the finish we waited for Sara and took a team photo.
After that we headed over for some much needed beers. And since it's never too early to plan, we started discussing ideas for next year. We joked about doing Super Troopers with the "I'm freaking out, van" and the "You are freaking out, van" , but found out later someone already did that team idea. We'll come up with something. After a couple beers and one last browse through the gear shop we jumped in the van and headed back to Mo's dad's. We made a pit stop at Mariano's to use the restroom and then crawled our way back. I dozed in the backseat. My energy was gone. We reached the house, cleaned out the vans and everyone parted ways. I went home and crashed. It was a fun time and unfortunately it had to end.