Ragnar Relay 101: A Beginner’s FAQ

After hearing about Ragnar Relay the first time, your first question is most likely “what?,” “who would do that?” or “what the hell?” But, the idea of running a relay with 11 teammates from point A to point B through breathtaking parts of the country will take residence in the back of your brain. All of a sudden, it becomes a must run race. Then, the real questions start popping up. Here you’ll learn all the answers to the most frequently asked questions about running your first Ragnar Relay:
 ragnar-team
Do I run the whole 200-ish miles by myself?
No. Ragnar is about doing something together you could never do alone. Teams of up to 12 run the 200-ish miles relay style from the start to end. The race is divided into 36 sections (called legs). You’ll tag team it. Runner one will run the first leg and you’ll meet them at the first exchange point in the van. Then, Runner 2 will take over, and so-on-so-forth until everyone has run three legs (on a team of 12, more if you have fewer runners).
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What are the types of teams?
There are two types of teams at a Ragnar: crazy and crazier. Or, more commonly known as a 12-person regular team and a 6-person ultra team. On 12-person teams, members run three legs a piece, every twelfth leg. They travel in two vans, runners 1-6 are in Van 1 and runners 7-12 are in Van 2. The vans alternate being on course every six legs. On a 6-person ultra team, members run six legs a piece, typically two back to back. (For example, Runner one will run Legs 1 and 2, Runner two will run Legs 3 and 4, and so-on). They travel in one van and stay on the course (or near the course) the whole race. Each classification is divided into divisions for results. Read more about divisions here.
 
How many miles do you run?
Ragnarians will run anywhere from 12 to 25 miles (or double that on an ultra-team) divided into three sections. The exact mileage varies by race. Visit the event page, scroll down to the map, and click the down arrow next to “runner distances” to view your mileage.
ragnar-miles
How do you choose your legs?
There are many ways to pick legs: shortest straw picks last, randomly assigned, strategically or ‘pin the tail on the Ragnar Leg you’ll run.’ In the end you will run three legs every twelfth time. So, Runner 1 will run legs 1, 13 and 25; Runner 2 will run legs 2, 14 and 26; etc. Call dibs on the types of runs you love. For example, if you’re up for a challenge (on top of a challenge) call dibs on the Ragnar Leg powered by Reebok, the hardest leg on the course. If you think of yourself as more of a mountain goat, request the legs with hills. Or, if you’re in it for the beer at the end, ask for the shortest downhill legs. The best thing about a Ragnar is that there’s something for every type of runner.
 
How do you know where to go?
If Dorthy and her Oz crew were to write a song about Ragnar, it would go something like “Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the bright blue signs.” Throughout the 200-mile course are reflective signs attached to bright orange cones or posts. When running, you’ll do the touch-and-turn method. So, you’ll run up to the sign, touch it, and then head in the direction it points. You also have the option of bringing along your phone with the downloaded Ragnar App, including a map of the course and that blinking blue dot that tells you where you’re at in comparison to where you’re supposed to be.
ragnar-directional 
Do I have to be fast?
Anyone can run a Ragnar, as long as you train. We require that teams have an overall pace of 11 min/ mile. This means that you can balance your paces throughout your team. (For example, if one person on your team runs a 14 min/ mile pace, have someone that runs a 8 min/mile pace so that you have an overall pace of 11 min/ mile.) The most important thing is that every team that starts is allowed to finish. If you’re running behind schedule, Ragnar Staff or the “Race Command” will work with you so that you finish before the cutoff.
 
Do you have to run at night?
Typically yes. Ragnar are overnight running relay races that take on average 24-36 hours to complete. Most runners will have at least one run that’s at night, in the dark. But depending on the time of year, and daylight savings it is possible that you might not run in the dark.  You’ll don your safety vest, headlamp and head off into the dark. And despite your initial fear of bears, you may find, like many others, that the night run is the best part of a Ragnar Relay. It’s a time to bask in peace and quiet, to gaze at the stars and run a little faster than you normally do. If you’re still nervous, you have the option to bring along a pacer or your phone. Next thing you know, you’ll be addicted to runs in the dark. Get ready with these 5 Things to Do to Prepare for the Night Run.
ragnar-night-run
Do you get any sleep?
Maybe. But not much. You won’t want to miss a moment of fun with your team, and since they’ll be up most of the night, you will too. You may be able to sneak in an hour or four here or there, but don’t expect your typical 8-hours of sleep. Just remember, everything is funnier when you’re sleep deprived.
 
Where do you sleep?
You will sleep at designated sleeping areas along the course. These are places you can roll out your foam mat, throw down your sleeping bag and catch a few quick zzz’s. You can also sleep in the van or some teams rent a hotel room midway through the course close to a major exchange where they can go while the other van runs. Don’t expect your sleep to be all that comfortable. Part of the challenge of Ragnar is pushing yourself on little amounts of sleep.
ragnar-sleep-area 
Does Ragnar provide the vans?
No. Team Captains are in charge of renting the vans, but Ragnar helps you out. We partner with Enterprise, Budget and Avis to get you the best deals on 12-passanger vans, minivans and SUVs. (Something you never thought you needed until now.) Visit the “Plan Your Trip” section of the race-specific page to learn more.
What do you eat?
After a Ragnar, you can eat whatever you want, because you will deserve it. During a Ragnar, you should eat what you feel comfortable running on. Stop by fundraisers throughout the course hosted by local community groups that often offer food such as pasta for dinner and bagels for breakfast. Or head to the grocery store for peanut butter sandwiches and bananas. Leading up to the race, see what food you can run on without getting side aches or an upset stomach. Then, don’t do anything crazy at the race. Even if that full bag of gummy worms seems to be calling your name.

What do I get?
At a Ragnar, you get 200-ish memories (or more) with old friends and new. Plus, a shirt, a medal, food and beverages for all finishers, the chance to get swag from our partners at exchanges and a 24+ hour, unforgettable experience.
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Learn the ins-and-outs of running a Ragnar by reading Reebok Ragnar Relays: How Does it Work? Or, find your next Ragnar here.
What questions do you have about running a Ragnar Relay?

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9 Comments

  • I would love to connect with a team who needs a runner. I have put it on the FB page, but that does not seem to be the best place to hook up.

    • I think our team is short one person…Don’t know how it works as far as adding another runner at this point since it’s my first Ragnar. But here’s my captain’s email… Hope it’s ok to share it…GiaccoS1@aetna.com

  • I would love to join a team and run my first Ragnar Relay. Have a bunch of 15ks 5ks and half marathon done . Please let me know

  • Could I participate in a Ragnar race with my team from a different location? For instance, I signed up with a team, can’t make it to the race location. (I live in jersey) the race is in Lake Tahoe.
    Could I run my leg in Jersey and just track my miles via FB or one of those running apps and have it count with the Tahoe team?

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