Posted by: Joe English | March 1, 2008

Live from Ragnar Del Sol — 3:30AM Day 2

Pinnacle Peak, Arizona – 3:05AM – Waaaah! I’m tired. It’s been a long, dark night in the desert. We’re now camped out in a parking lot in the hills above Scottsdale, just below the Four Seasons Hotel. The thought crossed my mind that maybe we should have gone and rented a room there. Between the six of us, it might have only cost us $100.00 each.

Over the course of our first 40 miles of running, we made progress in reeling in the field of runners ahead of us, yet we didn’t pass even one single team. We could see that we were catching teams ahead of us, because their vans were in the exchange zones each time a little bit closer to the times that we arrived.

The traverse across the desert from Lake Pleasant to Carefree was extremely dark. The exposed desert roads let gusty winds blow our runners around as they made their ways carefully along the narrow roads.

Rob Nichols with map
Rob Nichols studies a map of the relay route

One team was trailing behind us for much of the evening. They were a group of ultra-runners who were doing the relay with six, instead of twelve, runners. As our eleventh runner took the exchange, they trailed us by about nine minutes. By the end of that leg, their runner had pulled within a mile of us.

My leg started out with some very dark, deserted roads and then transferred to a busy divided highway. Running along the highway, I could hear a group of perhaps a dozen coyotes yipping at me in the distance. I thought about picking up one of the traffic cones lining the road to beat them away should they emerge from the bushes. Thankfully they never came into view. At mile four, I turned off the highway into a swanky sub-division of homes in the town of Carefree. The roads turned from extraordinarily dark to very well-lit in a matter of moments, leaving my eyesight reeling.

With two miles to go, I started up a long grade. My pace felt solid, but I was laying back holding it coming up the hill. My support van pulled along side, “the other team is maybe one minute behind you Joe,” shouted our van leader Rob. That was the impetus that I needed to kick it into another gear. After rounding a corner and getting onto somewhat flatter ground, I knocked it into another gear and pulled steadily away. That runner had gained nine minutes on our team in 14 miles, but I think I pulled away by a minute in the last half of a mile of my leg.

Although still back from the field, are team came in just a few minutes behind of scheduled arrival to our next major exchange. Overall, we did exactly what we needed to do to keep the team on pace. Now we’ll need to do it again two more times this morning and this afternoon.

John gets some shut eye
John Hetrick catches some shut-eye under the stars

My team-mates are sleeping around me, some here in the van, others outside on the ground. I can hear the cheers of runners leaving the exchange zone a few hundred yards away. We get a few hours to rest and then we’ll need to take off again. We should be leaving about sun-up. In the mean-time, I think I might just lay my head down and get some shut eye myself.

More to come live from Ragnar Del Sol in the morning.

Related articles:
Running the Ragnar Del Sol Relay with RxRunning1 (the complete story)

Selected photos from the Ragnar Del Sol Relay 2008

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News


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