Whenever I tell my friends I'm running another relay race, they stare at me in disbelief. "Crazy," "weird" and "masochist" are words I often hear in their responses, or see in their eyes.
But that's okay. I prefer the crazy ones.
On Friday, September 12, the 2014 Ragnar Relay race from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. begins. 12-person regular and six-person ultra teams will embark on a 200-mile journey, taking them by foot and, at times, by van to the nation's capitol.
According to Ragnar's website:
"With a course that will take you through historic towns and sites and a finish line party in the nation's capitol, this course is often called 'Ragnar's Best Kept Secret.' You'll start running from the town of Cumberland, Maryland and your team will head east through thick forest trails and scenic paths. Around nightfall, you'll run through the quiet streets of many charming historic Civil War-era towns, ultimately passing within the shadows of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Celebrate with your teammates as you storm the finish line together in Washington DC. This is a running event you don't want to miss."
Having completed four Ragnar Relays and a Ragnar Trail Relay during the past year and a half, I'm happy to add D.C. to my collection and call it an even six.
Running overnight relays like Ragnar provides the stoic sense of zen I often seek from long-distance running. Sure, short speed-focused races like the mile are making a comeback, but you can't beat the big feats of endurance. And that's the point - you're not supposed to.
It's not about going fast or achieving a new PR. It's about enduring, making it through to the end just because you can.
Or, as Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times puts it, "the overall experience...was full of rewards....I dropped two belt sizes. I learned that a man in a tutu commands a certain perverse respect."