Road Thrill Wins the 194 Mile Florida Ragnar Relay

I’m incredibly proud to have been a member of the excellent Road Thrill team:

Team Road Thrill at the starting line

We won the first Florida Ragnar Relay, 194 miles from Clearwater to Daytona. Our team average 6:51/mile for 22 hours and 13 minutes. The second place team, a men’s team called Legends Plus from Florida College, was more than 39 minutes behind us. We had six men and six women (winning both the open and mixed (men and women) divisions):

Women:
Ashley Espy
Jaclyn Solodovnick
Jami Ludwig
Kristine Poyner
Jaclyn Solodovnick
Lindsay Sundell
Melanie Ladenheim

Men:
Oscar Boykin
Ed Dunne
Jake Logan
Julio Palma
Alex Phipps
Andrew Robinson

I hope I won’t embarrass my teammates by heaping praise on them, but I witnessed some truly heroic running on their parts during our 22 hours and 13 minutes over those 194 miles. If you know any of these runners, congratulate them and implore them to regale you with tales of running through the night across Florida.

I twittered the event and you can read those twitter posts here. Some of the pictures from the event are on flickr with my Ragnar tag.

All I can say is that this was an other-wordly experience. Running through the night with such support was amazing. Watching that runner come to the exchange (in my case, Julio Palma) and running to get the baton to the next runner (in my case Jami Ludwig) was really inspiring. The team was split into two vans. I was in Van 1 with Jaclyn, Jami, Kristine, Jake and Julio. It took us a couple of exchanges to get the hang of dropping off a runner, cheering them in the middle (and maybe giving water) and then moving into position so the next runner could go. When it was my turn to run, I knew that after the drop off I could expect to hear my team cheering about 10 minutes later, and I knew I wanted to be looking strong when they went driving by.

You can see all the legs on the Ragnar site. I was runner 3. I did 3.6 miles at 6:31/mile, 9.5 at 6:34/mile, then 3.7 at 6:50/mile. I “slept” for about an hour at exchange 12.

Ragnar tried to arrange it so the teams would arrive in a narrow time window. That meant the slowest teams started first, at 8:00am, and the faster teams later. We started with the last group at 2:00pm. It was exciting, because when we started, no one was behind us. We didn’t see many runners, and the exchanges were dirty and used. As we got a few hours in, we started to pick up runners from earlier start groups. That was really exciting to us. By the second and third sets (legs 13-24) we were really starting to pass a lot of runners. Then, it died off. We were fighting Legends Plus for most of the race, but by the start of the third set it looked like pretty much had them thanks to our van 2, which was by far the strongest van in Ragnar. Towards the end, we heard there were only a few teams ahead of us, all of whom started earlier than we did. We started to get ambitious and hoped to not only win overall, but finish before any team. We almost did it, but one team, Steamed Muscles, that started at 11am, finished about 30 minutes before us. They finished third in the mixed division and fifth overall, congratulations to them! We spoke to some of the second place mixed finishers, “12 Hearts, 36 Legs, No Brains – Brandon Runners”, at the start. They were really nice and very encouraging. Congratulations to them as well.

I look forward to next year. Let’s see if we can go under 22 hours!