“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Sometimes the greatest adventures are the ones that deliver the unexpected: the emergence of new friendships, perseverance in the face of challenges, and inevitably, the memories that are made as a result.
On a chilly November weekend, the Dirtbag Runners Team attended the 2018 Los Coyotes Ragnar Relay. The event took place in the mountains behind Warner Springs, a small town roughly an hour or so inland from San Diego on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation.
The air was crisp and our spirits were high – not to mention, we were also really high up – sitting at over 4,800 ft of elevation. We could feel already that this was going to be a challenge.
Only two of our eight-person team had been a part of a Ragnar event prior to Los Coyotes. The rest of us had no idea what to expect, but had only heard great things about Ragnar events.
This event was comprised of three loops that each runner must complete: the Green Loop (3.1 miles), the Yellow Loop (3.5 miles) and the Red Loop (8.2 miles), all under 36 hours. But do not be fooled – this was arguably Ragnar’s hardest trail relay with over 3,300 ft of elevation gain over a total of 14 miles. What made it even more difficult were the race conditions: temperatures were in the 80s during the day and plummeted below 30 at night; the climbs were bigger than any of us could anticipate; the air was a thick blanket of dust as runners scurried in and out of their campgrounds. We struggled hard against the elements.
We were lucky to be fancy dirtbags, set up in the glamping section. It was so nice to not worry about setting up EZ-UPS or our tents for the weekend (I flew in from Portland, Oregon and couldn’t take any gear with me). Needless to say, when the temperatures reached below 30 degrees at night, we were all grateful for a cozy space to hang out in between our loops.
It’s funny how, sometimes, the difficult experiences are the ones that form the strongest bonds. Ragnar Los Coyotes was no different: while we all shivered in our sleeping bags at night, we at least knew we were all suffering together. And that the challenge we had taken on was one being faced as a team.
There is no doubt that Ragnar has something special built within their events. Never before have I attended a running event better set up – with everything from several food trucks (Freaks Brothers Pizzas was pumping out pizzas for over 24 hours non-stop!), to a water fill-up station, a massage booth, free s’mores and an always-burning campfire. It was the luxury trail running event we never knew we needed.
Huge thanks to the Ragnar crew for putting together such an amazing event (Nick and Samantha – I’m looking at you two!). We are looking forward to doing another one of their events someday.
Below are our individual race recaps from the team, and some photos and video highlights:
Ragnar Trail is not an easy event but having an awesome team helps everything! I was very concerned about my yellow loop (middle difficulty), which I was running at night, because of the narrow trails, drop offs, and the steep and technical nature of the trail. Add to that, I was concerned about visibility due to all the dust in the air.
Two teammates that had been out in the dark prior to my loop provided me with reassurance, and reminded me to look up to the skies for reward. They were right! I could do this! And at almost 5,000 feet of elevation with no light pollution, the stars were amazing. That faith in me, along with the support and encouragement they provided, took me to the next level and I am grateful for that.
I will also be grateful for the sense of humor found in trail runners (for instance, when teammates tell you ‘the rest is flat, with no more climbs’ to increase confidence levels, when it couldn’t be further from the truth!). Fortunately, that same humor kept us warm from the freezing temperatures in our tent that night. We were not expecting it to be quite that cold, and none of us could warm up. Knowing that we were all in the same boat was ultimately the only thing that kept me going.
I initially hesitated to accept the call when Crista asked for runners for the Dirtbag Runners team, because I knew I would be coming off a couple of other big races. But I knew if I didn’t, I would forever regret it. This was my chance to meet and run with some fellow ambassadors, so I followed my heart, said yes, and ignored the rest.
I’ve run lots of Ragnar races – Los Coyotes was my fourth one this year. Walking into the Dirtbag tent, for the first time I knew no one, but I never felt more at home. I was worried to tell the team that, due to feet and ankles, my loops would not be 8-10 minute miles. While I was stressed and worried, the other members provided reassurance. This team is exactly where I needed to be!
Los Coyotes was an ass-kicker of a course, and while the terrain and food trucks were welcomed, the dust was not! I loved that this course supports the Indian Reservation, so for that reason alone, I hope this race continues to do well.
Lastly: only in a relay race can you bring eight strangers together and make them a family overnight. The best part of this experience, for me, was watching how each person handled the challenges differently while having the teams best interest at heart. From ensuring everyone was equipped for their loops to ensuring each member was warm at night, we were all in it together.
If given the choice to do it again, I probably would (yes, even with jacked up feet and ankles!).
I signed up for this event, not knowing at all what I was saying yes to. What I did know is that it would involve all of my favorite things: a weekend with friends, time running trails, and nights spent in a tent. As part of the Glamping experience, we were greeted with cookies, a campfire and beer. YES!!
It’s not an adventure until “something” happens, right? That something ended up being freezing temperatures. Brrrr… But even despite the cold and lack of sleep, what a cool event. Running as a team built stronger relationships with current friends and formed instant friendships with strangers.
One of my favorite parts of the entire thing was running my hard loop in the dark. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous about running at night in the very uncomfortable 32 degrees. As I took off on the red loop, I was greeted with single-track trail that wound every which way through sparkling granite boulders and pine trees. As we climbed the mountain, a girl turned to me and suggested I turn off my headlamp and look up. As I gazed toward the sky, the stars and planets were more than pronounced in colors of red, orange, blue and white. I felt almost energized by the land around me.
Ragnar was fun and challenging!
Ragnar was an awesome event to experience. My husband and I met amazing people and enjoyed the team aspect of the race. It was so awesome to run in the middle of the night and see all the stars out. The food vendors were also a plus! It’s definitely worth checking out.
This was my first relay race and it was really fun. I enjoyed the team aspect and met some amazing runners.
My favorite part of any Ragnar is the unique camaraderie, that forever-type of bond you’ll inevitably make with the members of your team as you work together while exhausted, cold, hungry and (yes) grumpy. There’s nothing more motivating than running for the good of a group, rather than just for yourself. And, I love an excuse to run at night!
I’d say the best part of running Ragnar Los Coyotes was it’s immensely challenging, beautiful trails. Those sights sure made the freezing cold evenings that much bearable.