Posted by: Joe English | March 3, 2008

Race Story: Guest writer Duane Slade on his Ragnar Del Sol experience

Editor’s note: One of my teammates on the Ragnar Del Sol relay sent me this funny report about his experiences at the race. You may not know all of the people mentioned in this story, but he gives a nice sense of what it feels like to be a participant in a relay: you really get to know your team and you feel like each sucess is, as he writes, as big as the “duel in the sun” at the Boston Marathon. Thanks Duane for this report and I hope to see you next year as well.

I had a great weekend at the Ragnar Del Sol Relay and the race was just a part of what made it all fun!

Duane at sunrise
Duane Slade as the sun comes up at the Ragnar Del Sol Relay

It all started when I pulled up to Rob’s house and realized I had forgotten all my food and all the supplies that I was responsible for bringing. They were back at my house sitting on my desk. I thought to myself, ‘oh great! these guys are going to think I am a total flake.’ To my surprise Rob and John both told me not to worry about it and that we could make it work. I knew then that it was going to be a fun experience. As we drove out to the first exchange I had to laugh at the thought of 6 grown men jammed up in a van getting ready to drive and run for the next 21 hours. It takes a ‘special’ person to be willing to do this and we were six of them together. The thought just made me laugh.

John started our van off with leg number 7 and did a great job. In fact everyone on the team did fantastic. By the time Dave handed off to me it was around 12:40 in the morning. It was cold and very dark. I felt great when I started off and was starting to slow down about the 4 mile mark. Then all of a sudden I heard a pack of coyotes. I wasn’t sure how far off they were, but I didn’t want to find out so I picked it right back up. By the time I got to the 6 mile mark I was starting to feel pretty good.

I hadn’t seen too many vehicles my entire run, but in the distance I saw a pair of headlights coming my way. I inched over to the side giving the truck plenty of room to move on by. As the truck came closer I noticed he was swerving into me on the side of the road. Luckily I have great agility, quick feet, an intelligent mind, good looks, big muscles, great hair, and a winning smile, so I was able to get out of the way. I couldn’t believe the guy tried to run me over. SOME PEOPLE!! It just happened that the two rent-a-cops had seen this happen so they tracked the guy down and called the police. I understand that the guy is now serving a life sentence and may even get the chair. All of this must of really got my juices flowing because I was able to finish my last mile in a world record, I mean personal record, I mean fast time of 5:46.

Someone logged the wrong time for me. They have me down as a 52 min 7.7 mile run when it was a 49:36. I know we had a very high tech timing system so I was surprised by the mess up. Then I handed off to Joe and he took off like a streak of light.

Our van did awesome on the first leg. We didn’t pass anyone, we didn’t see anyone for that matter except the ultra team behind us that almost caught me and Joe had to fight them off for his last mile as well. It was cool to see how competitive everyone was. We told Joe that someone was a minute behind him and you would have thought that his son was waiting for him at the finish line. He took off and pulled away from the guy that was finishing up a 15 mile leg.

Duane vs Carl Lewis
Duane sprints to the finish of his second leg against someone who wouldn’t give in

Our second leg wasn’t as eventful except for the slow lady that transformed into Carl Lewis as soon as I tried to pass her with a 100 yards left. I was already moving pretty fast and when I pulled up beside her she decided to sprint. Oh my goodness!!! There was no way I was going to let her beat me so I dug down and found another gear. We were flying along and I just barely inched her out at the end. Whew! I am sure Joe has a picture (Please don’t put that on your blog —sorry Duane too late) of me narrowly beating her, even if I did realize later that she might have in fact had a limp.

Joe of course finished strong and Dave hurt his calf, but was able to still run fast. Chris, Rob, and John all had great runs during this leg as well.

Our last leg was great. John and I thought we were going to have to find a new husband for Chris’s wife. He came inches from being a hood ornament out at Usury pass. If it wasn’t for Johns loud girlish scream, I think Chris would have been toast! It was scary. I have to say, if I would have done 7:30’s up Usury in the middle of the day after running two tough legs already, I would have sounded like a girl as well. Fortunately everything turned out just fine.

Rob again threw down the hammer and put out low 6 minute miles. WOW!!

Dave was wondering if he could even finish the race and then he pulls out a performance comparable to “Duel in the Sun” between Salazar and Beardsley in the ’82 Boston Marathon. OK, maybe not that amazing, but it was pretty cool the way he beat that other team.

By the time I got the handoff I was so nervous I wanted to throw up! It must have been the two red bulls and all the cookies. I pushed hard and thought I ran a good leg until Chris said ‘you really looked like you were hurting out there’. It must have been the phone call I received in the middle of my run from Coach Dean asking me where we were? He could obviously tell I was running, but he proceeded to ask me questions about life and how to improve his relationships, you know stuff like that. I told him I would have to give him advice later and that I had a race to finish.

I then handed off to Joe and he finished the race for us. It was great running across the finish line together.

I really had a great time and hope to be invited again next year!

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

Selected photos from the Ragnar Del Sol Relay 2008

Duane Slade, Mesa Arizona
Special to Running Advice and News



  1. The lady pictured She was part of our team. Over 40. 4 months pregnant. had already replaced one injured runner. So, inching her at the finish line must have felt monumental…

  2. In Duane’s defense, he included a line in his submission which included a much more picturesque description of the runner he “inched” at the line at the end of his second leg. The description is pretty close to what you write above, minus the part about being pregnant. When I edited the piece, I felt that she wouldn’t like the description, so I removed it.

    Duane realized that this was no great feat of running, but rather was surprised by her amazing gumption in picking it up at the end of the leg.

    A bunch of us saw the sprint finish and our hats are off to both runners.


  3. I think Hurdle the Dead, is missing some of what we experienced watching Duane and the woman at the end of the leg. We were all impressed by how much kick she had when Duane pulled up next to her. So much so that she made Duane really feel the last bit of the leg. Given that she is 4 months pregnant it makes her effort at the end even more impressive.

    I do not believe that Duane in his writing is trying to claim some great achievement in inching her at the finish line.

  4. I meant no harm or ill will when I wrote about the lady I beat. She was amazing to be able to finish that strong and all it did was surprise me. The fact that she is pregnant makes her that much more amazing. When I wrote the article it was only meant for my team to see. They were all watching the event take place and giving me a hard time about it, so I thought I would add a little humor. Again sorry for any hard feelings this may have caused.

  5. I dont know what everybody is all upset about, if you look closely at the evidence at hand, it would appear Duane is “further” along than the woman. So whats the problem?

  6. Duane Slade is a classy guy and a great athlete. Although very competitive, He would never intentially offend anyone, especially a woman.

  7. As you say, he was just being competitive — and she was too. That’s the spirit of what it’s all about!


  8. […] Running Advice and News. Some pictures of the race can be found here and a second funny race report here Share and Enjoy: If you liked this, you may want to subscribe to the RSS feed and get […]

  9. […] 03 2008 Let’s get my blog going with a story that I wrote that originally appeared in Running Advice and News last month. This is the story of my weekend at the Ragnar Del Sol Relay in Arizona. It was a […]

  10. […] D. Slade (2008) […]

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