Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - Let's Get Packin!

I've meant to create a packing list for pretty much the past 3 or 4 Ragnars…or how ever many years I've been bloggin, whichever is longer, but just never got around to it. Well this year you are all getting lucky because I'm going to share with you what I believe is the perfect packing list.  I've learned a lot over the past 5 Ragnar's on how to over pack, what I really wish I had, and finding that balance between minimalist packing and bringing my whole closet.

Side note: Ragnar Northwest Passage is almost 1 WEEK AWAY! I have no idea when this relay snuck up on me but I'm super excited to get this party started and spend 30+ hours with some awesome ladies...and one awesome husband driver too :).

My second Ragnar - 2010!
First up, what are you going to wear? Well in short, running clothes! And depending on the weather (I'll post a forecast next week!) you might need shorts and a tank for one run and pants and long sleeve for another.  Last year we were sweating during the day and FREEZING at night.
  • 3 (well in my case 4) complete running outfits -  I'm talking all the way down to underwear, sports bra and socks. Will you sometimes keep the same outfit on for 2 or more runs? Maybe…but you'll want the option to change. Put each outfit in a ziploc bag and then stuff that sweaty stinky stuff back in it after your run so you don't contaminate the rest!
  • 2 comfy outfits - Especially at Northwest Passage, the weather temps fluctuate greatly. You may want some comfy shorts and a tank for the day but will need to break out the sweats and sweatshirt at night.  You don't need jeans or any sort of fashionable item here…comfort is key!
  • 2 pairs of running shoes - The only exception to this is if there is ZERO percent change of rain. I learned this one the hard way when it poured during my first leg and I was forced to run in soggy shoes the rest of the time…no bueno! 
  • Flippy floppies - Or any other comfy shoe of your choosing.  Pretty sure we all know that amazing feeling after running a race of letting our feet out of our stuffy running shoes and letting them breathe!
  • Team shirts, costumes, etc - Not mandatory but really fun! We do team shirts and try to keep them clean (don't run in them) so we can wear them at the start and finish. Also keep in mind you'll be receive a nice Ragnar tech tee when you check in so that can be used for down time as well.
  • Hats, compression sleeves, etc. - Whatever you run in normally pack that. Compression for recovery is usually pretty nice!
  • Compression is key for an ultra - even better they are Ragnar Pro Compression
  • SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY - Ragnar is serious about safety and requires everyone to have a reflective vest on during certain hours.  Go out and invest in a good running one, you really don't want those bulky construction ones getting in the way during your run.  And get your own headlamp! Although a headlamp for every person isn't required you don't want to share someone else's head sweat and they come in really handy for navigating port-o-potties in the dead of night.
Okay, what about all the other running stuff, toiletries, etc?  You could really overdo it in this department if you wanted but these are the things I find MOST helpful and on my must use for every Ragnar packing list.
After a sweaty humid night run…making baby wipes look good ;)
  • Baby wipes - These little wet delights are pure heaven after a sweaty run and double as a shower in case you don't get one in the 30+ hours you are running (ultra = no showers).  
  • Gadgets - GPS, watch, iPhone, whatever you need to track your running…if you are obsessed with that kind of thing. I will note that Ragnar does NOT have mile markers, only a 1 mile to go sign so it is nice to know how far you are into your run.  
  • Music - I crossed this one out because I honestly don't think you should be listening to music while running Ragnar. You are on open roads with other cars and oftentimes a very small shoulder.  It is really important that you can hear all oncoming traffic. I take the extra cautious approach and assume every single car on the road CANNOT see me, helps keep me on my toes :).  Music for the van…now that is important, keep your iPhone/iPod in there.
  • Toiletries - Keep it minimal and stick with deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, small towel for face washing, hair stuff if you need it, etc.  There is no need to look like you are going out for a night on the town ladies, keep the makeup, perfume, etc at home.
  • Sunscreen - Don't be stupid and get burned.  I discovered Naawk last year when they sponsored us at Hood to Coast and the first time we sprayed that stuff we all went "wow…it smells like a tropical island" and then wondered why we weren't using it as a van air freshener all along.  
  • Bug Spray - There are some parts of the Northwest Passage course near rivers at night that mosquitoes just love. A bottle for the whole van is probably sufficient!
  • Sleeping Bag/Pillow - You can get away with just a blanket too.  If you get to stop and sleep there are plenty of indoor options at Northwest Passage and even a van seat is pretty comfortable when you are that tired.  On the note of sleep, just prepare to get NONE and if you get a couple hours, lucky you.  And I'll remind you that it usually gets COLD at night so have stuff to get warm!
Besides food (which I'll touch on briefly at the end) there is all that other van stuff that you will find useful.  If you are the captain it would be really really nice of you to stock your van with the following before heading up to the start line…you can always charge your runners for their portion.
  • Paper products - A roll of paper towels, a couple rolls of TP and a box of kleenex will all come in handy. Although I have never ever encountered a Ragnar Northwest Passage port-o-potty without TP it's better safe than sorry or for when a mid run emergency might happen…CODE BROWN! 
  • Water and Nuun - I'm not just saying Nuun is essential because I am an ambassador. I'm saying it's essential because you really do need more than just water for long hot runs and all that hydrating that needs to happen in between. Even better, Nuun Energy for those middle of the night runs where you need a caffeine and B vitamin kick.  They will be selling tubes at exchange 6 in case you forget some!  Don't worry about packing all the water you'll need at the start, there are plenty of gas stations and grocery stores along the route to pick up more...same with ice.
Kona Cola is my BFF during Ragnar!
  • Garbage bag - I don't think this needs explaining…1-2 bags will do!
  • Phone Numbers - Have a printed out piece of paper with everyone on your team's cell phone numbers…you never know when you might need them.
  • Recovery Tools - Running alot, sitting alot, then repeating makes for tight muscles.  Agree to bring one foam roller and marathon stick if you have them so you have the tools you need to work out those muscles before your next run. 
  • Van markers - You aren't really running a Ragnar relay without marking up your van! Decorate it, mark your kills (number of runners you pass), make funny running jokes, and showcase your team name/spirit. FYI - White and Yellow show up best on windows.
AHHH, the satisfaction of checking off that last run!
Food is really up to individual teams in my opinion.  As an ultra team we all bring everything we are going to eat (meals, snacks, etc) in the van with us since we don't have time to stop for a meal. 12 man teams have large breaks and can go out for proper meals between legs.  I will say that finding a place open to eat in the middle of the night in the middle of the Northwest Passage course is pretty difficult so even 12 man teams should have something a bit more significant than snacks to curb those late night cravings and nutrition needs pre and post middle of the night runs.  One year we made the mistake of hitting up McDonald's before going to bed and we ALL had very tough runs after that...just sayin! Anacortes is really the last biggish city that has grocery stores/restaurants open at night before you get onto Whidbey Island for the night hours.  I'm thinking about bringing the following for myself next week:
  1. A quinoa chicken dish for meals
  2. Sun butter and raspberry sandwiches
  3. Hard boiled eggs
  4. Homemade oatmeal protein bars to share
  5. CHIPS...I crave salt
  6. Yogurt with granola
I will still be on the I Quit Sugar 8-week program during this relay which stressed me out when I realized it in the beginning but now that I'm more than half way through I'm confident I can still be sugar free for the relay...but we will see how well I do when we drive past the Dairy Queen on the way to the ferry!

The MOST important thing to pack, however, is a positive attitude and the willingness to keep on running when all you want to do is sleep/eat/cry.  Your team will power you forward way more than you think, so cheer your runners on, cheer other runners on and JUST HAVE FUN! 

Power arches really do work!

QUESTION: I'm sure I missed something…what are you packing that I forgot? Also, are you running Northwest Passage? What is your team name, start time…I want to say HI!


Lisa @ Lisa Runs for Cupcakes said...

Power arches most definitely work!

Tracy Hill said...

Great list! Thanks for sharing. Have you mentioned how your 4 leg ultra works yet? I would be interested in hearing more about that. I ran on an ultra team the last 2 years and am trying it the 12 man way this year. Good luck and have fun out there :)

Marathon Lar said...

Thanks, hope you can use it! I haven't talked about running 4 times as an ultra...but I plan on it with my race recaps...Ragnar snuck up on me this year so I don't think I'll have time to post about it beforehand. Enjoy all the wonderful downtime and rest a 12 person team allow :).